Cadel Evans wins Dauphine opener

Contador second ahead of Valverde

Australia's Cadel Evans won Sunday's first stage of the Dauphine Libéré cycling race, a 12.1km time trial around Nancy on Sunday.

The Silence team rider was followed home by his Spanish arch rival for honours in this year's Tour de France, Alberto Contador, who was eight seconds adrift.

Last year's Dauphine winner Alejandro Valverde took third, 23sec behind.

The race against the clock was a less taxing version of what awaits Evans and company in Monaco where the Tour de France starts on July 4.

"Before thinking of Monaco I'd prefer to concentrate on tomorrow's stage," reflected Evans who with this opening success will now have pretensions on a Dauphine victory when the race concludes in Grenoble next Sunday.

"The gaps (back to his rivals)? That's a nice surprise," he said.

Evans, runner up in the last two editions of the Tour de France, comes into the Dauphine in which he also finished second in 2007 and 2008, after a one month rest and training camp in Spain's Sierra Nevada.

"This victory will bring some welcome confidence to the team," added Evans who admitted to having had a bumpy start to the season. "I was criticised but I've worked and it's going better and better now."

Monday's second stage is a 228km ride from Nancy to Dijon.

© AFP 2009

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