Paris-Nice 1: Gustav Erik Larsson wins opening time trial

Wiggins misses top spot by one second

This article was originally published on Cyclingnews.com.

Gustav Erik Larsson (Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling) won the opening stage of the 2012 Paris-Nice with a time of 11:19 in the 9.4km time trial from Dampierre-en-Yvelines to Saint-Rémy-lès-Chevreuse.

The Swedish national time trial champion beat Sky’s Bradley Wiggins by one second with Levi Leipheimer (Omega Pharma-QuickStep) finishing four seconds back. World time trial champion and last year’s winner of Paris-Nice, Tony Martin (Omega Pharma-QuickStep), lacked his usual cutting edge and finished in 28th place, 25 seconds down on Larsson.

"Of course I am very happy with the win," said Larsson. "It was a great course and the season started well for me. A great bonus when winning a prologue are all the jerseys and the lead in the general classification. I will work hard to defend that lead."

Vacansoleil-DCM directeur sportif Hilaire Van Der Schueren was pleased with Larrson's performance, noting that for the second straight year his team has won the opening stage at Paris-Nice. "I am really happy with this win after a lot of second places in the early season. Due to the weather we divided our time trial specialists over the schedule and that worked out fine. Last year it was De Gendt with his first win for his new team and now Larsson rewards the confidence of the team with a great win."

Alexandre Geniez (Project 1t4i) was the first rider out of the start house, kicking off the 70th edition of Paris-Nice. But the first significant time was posted by Thomas De Gendt, who rocketed up the 3rd category climb of the Côte des Dix-sept Tournants. The Belgian’s time was so impressive on the climb that he will wear the king of the mountains jersey on stage 2.

The likes of Alejandro Valverde (Movistar), Ivan Basso (Liquigas Cannondale) all came through the finish line without disturbing the leading names but it was Larrson who eventually dislodged De Gendt from the leaderboard, wit the Belgian falling to fifth by the end of the stage.

Brad Wiggins in action

Wiggins, Martin and the evergreen Andreas Kloden were yet to start but just as all three began their march to the start house the heavens began to open. It was far from torrential but Richie Porte (Team Sky) and Tejay Van Garderen (BMC) were the last significant challengers to make it home before the road conditions were effected.

Wiggins started his effort conservatively, reaching the climb five seconds down on De Gendt but one second ahead of Larsson, and five ahead of Tony Martin.

The Brit pulled even further ahead of Martin in the second half of the undulating course, as the German faded on the slick roads.

But Larsson, the silver medal in the Worlds TT in 2009, had done enough. A combination of dry roads and fine riding, enough to secure his first win for his new team.

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