Cancellara beats Armstrong by two seconds
Fabian Cancellara emphasises his huge talent by edging out Lance Armstrong to win the Tour prologue.
On his first appearance at the Tour de France, Fassa Bortolo’s Fabian Cancellara made much the same impact as Britain’s Chris Boardman did a decade ago when he won the race’s opening prologue, beating defending champion Lance Armstrong into second place by just over a second and a half. The 23-year-old Swiss rider from Berne recorded a time of 6-51 for the 6.1-kilometre course, averaging 53.56kph, the third fastest prologue in Tour history behind Boardman’s efforts in Lille in 1994 and Dublin in 1998. Going off 45 riders from the end and well before most of the prologue favourites, Cancellara knocked 10 seconds off the time set by Phonak’s Oscar Pereiro as he became the first rider to clock inside seven minutes for the straightforward out-and-back course. From then on it was a case of watching and hoping for the young Swiss. Before last man off Armstrong set out, Illes Balears’ Jos Ivan Gutierrez came the closest to Cancellara, but the Spaniard was a distant eight seconds down. A bad day for Australia that started with Matt White crashing out while training for the prologue continued as Michael Rogers crashed during his ride, but did manage to finish, and then 2003 prologue winner Brad McGee came in nine seconds down for fourth place on the day. Some of the race favourites were also struggling. Haimar Zubeldia, third in last year’s Paris prologue, finished a huge 27 seconds back, with team-mate Iban Mayo no doubt much more satisfied at his loss of 21 seconds. Mayo’s effort looked even better when Tyler Hamilton came in 18 seconds slower than Cancellara, and a minute later Jan Ullrich was just a second faster than Hamilton. In the end, only defending champion Armstrong came close to depriving the Fassa Bortolo time trial specialist of the yellow jersey. Two seconds down at halfway, the typically determined looking Armstrong was one of the few who gained time on the second half of the course, although not enough for him to win the day. However, this second place was certainly enough for Armstrong to send out an unmissable statement of intent to his rivals. A number of them beat him in the Paris prologue last year, but none of his likely yellow jersey rivals finished within 10 seconds of him today. Ultimately, it may have been Cancellara’s day, but Armstrong will have plenty reasons to smile as well. Prologue, Lige 1 Fabian Cancellara (Swi) Fassa Bortolo 6.1km in 6.51 (53.65kph) 2 Lance Armstrong (USA) US Postal 0.02 3 Jos Ivan Gutierrez (Spa) Illes Balears 0.08 4 Brad McGee (Aus) fdjeux.com 0.09 5 Thor Hushovd (Nor) Crdit Agricole 0.10 6 Oscar Pereiro (Spa) Phonak 0.11 7 Jens Voigt (Ger) CSC 8 Christophe Moreau (Fra) Crdit Agricole 0.12 9 Bobby Julich (USA) CSC 10 George Hincapie (USA) US Postal 11 Jos Enrique Gutierrez (Spa) Phonak 0.14 12 Angel Vicioso (Spa) Liberty Seguros 0.15 13 Levi Leipheimer (USA) Rabobank 14 Carlos Sastre (Spa) CSC 15 Kurt-Asle Arvesen (Nor) CSC 0.16 16 Jan Ullrich (Ger) T-Mobile 0.17 17 Floyd Landis (USA) US Postal 0.18 18 Tyler Hamilton (USA) Phonak 19 Slava Eikmov (Rus) US Postal 0.19 20 Andrea Peron (Ita) CSC 26 Iban Mayo (Spa) Euskaltel 0.21 32 Stuart O’Grady (Aus) Cofidis 0.23 56 Haimar Zubeldia (Spa) Euskaltel 0.27 63 Mark Scanlon (Ire) Ag2r 0.28 70 Ivan Basso (Ita) CSC 0.29 72 Julian Dean (NZ) Crdit Agricole 0.30 77 Denis Menchov (Rus) Illes Balears 81 Baden Cooke (Aus) fdjeux.com 0.31 96 Robbie McEwen (Aus) Lotto-Domo 0.33 104 Roberto Heras (Spa) Liberty Seguros 0.37 114 Allan Davis (Aus) Liberty Seguros 0.38 121 Michael Rogers (Aus) Quick Step 0.40 143 Gilberto Simoni (Ita) 0.42 147 Scott Sunderland (Aus) Alessio-Bianchi 180 Nick Gates (Aus) Lotto-Domo 0.57 181 Matt Wilson (Aus) fdjeux.com