Britain: Zanini takes lead

Patrick Lefevere's Quickstep team continued their summer knack of success in smaller stage races in

Patrick Lefevere's Quickstep team continued their summer knack of success in smaller stage races in
Quick Step's Stefano Zanini took the first stage of the Tour of Britain, but team-mate Tom Boonen lost out after heading off course. Large crowds came out onto the route of the first stage on Wednesday to see the riders that many have only seen on their TV screens compete against home-grown talent. Good weather helped swell the number of roadside spectators who were especially out in force on the major climbs of the day, while large numbers saw Italian Stefano Zanini lead home a bunch sprint on Corporation Street in central Manchester. But the race was marred by dangerous racing conditions as police struggled to keep traffic off the course, especially around Blackpool and Preston [see separate story]. Confusion in the run-in into the Manchester finish, compounded by major roadworks in the final kilometres, also forced a number of riders off course with 500 metres to go where the route split into two to allow race vehicles to move off the course. Zanini's team-mate Tom Boonen, winner of two stages at this year's Tour de France, was one of those caught up in the confusion while hoping to repeat his success on the Champs Elyses in Paris in July in Manchester. "But I was never on Zanini's wheel. Stefano was in the small breakaway in the last three kilometres. We caught them at 700-800 metres to go, and then there was. I don't know what happened." "There was big chaos with the 'deviation': some guys went right, some guys went left. But Stefano was sitting in third wheel and managed to finish the sprint and win," Boonen explained, who still managed to finish fifth. The last man of the day's long breakaway, Rodney Green (Barloworld) was finally caught by the bunch with just 22km left to race of the 207km stage. Green had joined Scotand's Duncan Urquhart and Wales' Robert Partridge in the first kilometre, and after Partridge was dropped on the first-category climb of Nick o'Pendle after 45 kilometres, Green and Urquhart worked well together to build a maximum lead of 18 minutes. Green pushed on alone over Belmont, the final climb of the day, but Urquhart had done enough to ensure that he will wear the King of the Mountains jersey on Thursday's second stage. The fact that many of the spectators waited at the finish to see an exhausted Urquhart come home alone, over 20 minutes down on the bunch showed that, despite the traffic problems, this Tour of Britain has captured the imagination of the public on the back of the Olympic succeses of the British team in Athens. Now they will be looking for British riders like Roger Hammond ( and pursuit gold medallist Bradley Wiggins (Credit Agricole) to show themselves over the next couple of days. Stage one: Manchester-Manchester 1 Stefano Zanini (Ita) Quick Step 207km in 5.01.23 2 Kevin Van Impe (Bel) Lotto-Domo 3 Alejandro Alberto Borrajo (Arg) Ceramiche Panaria 4 Julian Dean (NZl) Credit Agricole 5 Tom Boonen (Bel) Quick Step 6 Roger Hammond (GBr) 7 Maksym Rudenko (Ukr) Chocolade Jacques 8 Yanto Barker (GBr) Wales 9 Paride Grillo (Ita) Ceramiche Panaria 10 Ben Day (Aus) Overall standings (includes bonus seconds won on the finish line, and at intermediate sprints) 1 Stefano Zanini (Ita) Quick Step 207km in 5.01.13 2 Kevin Van Impe (Bel) Lotto-Domo 0.04 3 Alejandro Alberto Borrajo (Arg) Ceramiche Panaria 0.06 4 James Vanlandschoot (Bel) Relax-Bodysol 0.09 5 Andrea Peron (Ita) CSC 6 Julian Dean (NZl) Credit Agricole 0.10 7 Tom Boonen (Bel) Quick Step 8 Roger Hammond (GBr) 9 Maksym Rudenko (Ukr) Chocolade Jacques 10 Yanto Barker (GBr) Wales
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