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Cancellara takes yellow jersey in Tour de France prologue

The Swiss rider was fastest in Liege today.

Cancellara.
Cancellara.

FABIAN CANCELLARA BEGAN the Tour de France with victory in the opening individual time-trial for the fifth time, as Cadel Evans finished 13th.

As the second-last rider to begin the traditional prologue to the Tour on Saturday, Cancellara’s target was Bradley Wiggins’ time of seven minutes and 20 seconds.

The Swiss time trial specialist put in a typically strong performance in the Belgian city of Liege, beating Wiggins’ time by seven seconds, to win his seventh individual time-trial, and eighth stage in total, at the Tour de France.

Frenchman Sylvain Chavanel of Quick Step was third, ahead of Evan’s BMC team-mate, American Tejay van Garderen.

Ireland’s Dan Martin finished on 7:37:24 to hand him 55th spot while Nicolas Roche was a single second behind him.

Reigning champion Evans was the only rider to start after Cancellara and could not match the 31-year-old RadioShack-Nissan rider over the 6.4-kilometre course, finishing in seven minutes and 30 seconds.

Australian Evans will head into the first proper stage of the Tour on Sunday in 13th place on the overall standings, 10 seconds behind Team Sky’s Wiggins, the man many consider to be his main rival for successive titles.

British rider Wiggins was forced to withdraw from last year’s Tour after breaking his collarbone in a crash during Stage 7.

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German Tony Martin of Quick Step, the reigning world time trial champion, had to switch bikes mid-way through his ride on Saturday, meaning he finished a distant 23 seconds behind Cancellara.

Orica GreenEdge’s Brett Lancaster was the early leader with a time of seven minutes and 24 seconds.

In his team’s Tour de France debut, Lancaster held on until Team Sky’s Edvald Boasson Hagen finished a fraction ahead of the 32-year-old Australian.

Norwegian Boasson Hagen eventually finished fifth, with Lancaster sixth.

Patrick Gretsch (Argos-Shimano), Denis Menchov (Katusha), Philippe Gilbert (BMC) and Andriy Grivko (Astana) completed the top 10 on Saturday.

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