Tour de France 2012: Stage 1

USA's Tejay van Garderen impresses

Tour de France 2012: Stage 1

Sunday's stage started again in Liège, but finished in Seraing, both in Belgium. The stage was 198 km, or 123 miles, with five category-4 climbs and one sprinting opportunity.

Tour Talk
People are liking best young rider Tejay van Garderen (USA). Tejay is on team BMC along with Cadel Evans who is the team's projected leader, but Cadel has had his moment, and as one of the older riders, maybe it's time to let the younger cyclists step up. Though van Garderen is known as one of the calmest sweetest riders out there, maybe he'll develop a mean streak and decide to compete for the overall. It wouldn't be the first time there has been an in-team rivalry.

Stage Highlights
• Well, it wasn't broadcast, but Tony Martin had a crash early on in the stage. Although he is back on his bike, the road rash on the back of his arm and the nasty scrapes on his elbow and leg don't lie. Only two stages into this year's Tour and it looks like the promising young star just can't catch a break.
• It would appear that the typical (though, really, there's nothing typical about them) Tour fans are out in full form this year. Crazed Lance fans, just a taste of the types of folk who come out for the Tour (we are in good company-ish).
• Ex-track cyclist turned road cyclist Michael Morkov (Denmark) is keen for the polka dot ("King of the Mountains") jersey. Evidenced by the fact that he is pushing it for every opportunity at a King of the Mountains point this stage. He goes for the first one in a sprint and gets it.
• Tejay being in the white jersey is not only a great start for the young rider, but a significant gain seeing as how the only American rider to be in the white jersey before Tejay was one of the greatest champions to come out of the USA, none other than Greg Lemond.
• Now that Mark Cavendish and his old teammates on team HTC Columbia have been forced to disband – thanks to lack of funding – Cavendish has got exactly one lead-out man left on his new team Sky. Not only that, but the most significant loss for Cavendish is the loss of one lead-out man in particular, Mark Renshaw (Australia), or "Prince Harry" as he is known. P. Harry was arguably just as responsible for many of Cavendish's stage wins as Cav himself. Now they are rivals.
• Approaching the opportunity for the sprint point in today's stage. There has been a lot of speculation on whether or not Cavendish would attempt to go for Green. I'm glad he has accepted the challenge. So it's basically "The Manx Missile" (Cavendish) and all of his old lead-out men racing for the green jersey.
• Cavendish went for it full force taking out all of the competitors, proving that he is a force to be reckoned with, with or without Renshaw. However, right before the finish line, Cavendish backs off and Matty Goss gets the win. What?!
• Morkov gets the second available King of the Mountains point in a sprint, securing the polka dot jersey for himself.
• Just when we got into some steady clear weather at the end of the stage, a crash occurs at the back of the peloton taking out riders from Sky, Movistar (moh-vee-stahr), and Rabobank. Notably, Mike Rogers (Australia) and Samuel "Sammy" Sanchez (Spain). Twenty km (12 miles) to go.
• Barely 10 minutes later and we've got another crash on our hands, caused by a photographer who got too close to the road. One rider swerved to avoid him, causing other riders to swerve to avoid him, causing even more riders to swerve … you get the idea. Massive pile-up.
• At 8 km (5 miles) to the finish, the peloton catches the breakaway.
• Overall contenders Fabian Cancellara, Bradley "Wiggo" Wiggins, and Evans are all up front in the peloton.
• Another rider who doesn't seem to be able to catch a break, on what is potentially his second retiring year, Vino (Vinokourov) gets a flat tire and loses precious seconds. Vinokourov is an overall contender.
George Hincapie and Peter Sagan have both moved up front. It's looking promising for a stage win by Sagan.
• The climb to the finish is incredibly steep! I'm surprised the riders aren't going backward down the slope!
Sylvain Chavanel makes a breakaway, but Cancellara is quick on his tail.
• 1.4 km (1 mile) to the finish.
• Chavanel is caught, Fabian is in the lead, looking pained. Sagan has moved up behind Cancellara. It's between the two of them for the stage win.
• Sagan comes up strong and gets the win with Cancellara coming in right behind him. A perfect stage. Young rider Sagan wins the stage, and Cancellara pulled it together and kept the yellow jersey for a second day.
• Peter Sagan is 22 years old and just won a stage in his first Tour de France. What were you doing at 22 years old?

Jersey Lineup End of Stage 1
Yellow Jersey (best overall): Fabian Cancellara (Switzerland) RNT
White Jersey (best young rider): Tejay van Garderen (USA) BMC
Green Jersey (best sprinter): Fabian Cancellara (Switzerland) RNT

Top 10 After Stage 1
1) Fabian Cancellara (Switzerland) RNT
2) Bradley Wiggins (Britain) Sky
3) Sylvain Chavanel (France) OmegaPharma-QuickStep
4) Tejay van Garderen (USA) BMC
5) Edvald Boasson Hagen (Norway) Sky
6) Denis Menchov (Russia) Katusha
7) Philippe Gilbert (Belgium) BMC
8) Cadel Evans (Australia) BMC
9) Vincenzo Nibali (Italy) Liquigas
10) Ryder Hesjedal (Canada) Garmin-Sharp-Barracuda

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