Behind a strong win by Fabian Cancellara (Saxo Bank), Alberto Contador, Andreas Kl?den, Levi Leipheimer and Lance Armstrong took 2nd, 4th, 6th and 10th, making Team Astana the winners for the Team classification.
Contador was first at the halfway check point on the summit of the climb, earning him the King of the Mountains polka dot jersey which he will wear on stage two Sunday. Overall it was a smashing opening-day success for Astana Cycling Team, a position the team intends to improve on during the next 20 stages. "The mountain jersey is very nice, but I prefer to change the color in a few weeks," smiled Contador.
After the race Contador said, "I am very glad with the result. I didn’t come here to win the stage but to go as fast as possible. I knew Cancellara would be to hard to beat. In the Tour of Switzerland he was already flying. I took not much time on the favorites for the GC but this is good for my confidence." Asked about leadership for the team, he continued, " I don’t want to talk about who is leader now in our team. Most important is that I saw that I am in good shape."
Starting just seventeen minutes into the first stage was Lance Armstrong, making his much-anticipated return to the Tour a reality at last. Straight out of the blocks and up out of the saddle, Armstrong gave it full effort right from the start. Showing steady rhythm and power on the bike, he looked entirely comfortable on his time trial machine as he methodically went about setting the best time in the early part of the stage, stopping the clock at 20:12 on the finish line along the port of Monaco. But his top position didn’t last long as just behind him Tony Martin (Columbia) quickly took over the top slot with a finish time of 20:05.
Armstrong had this to say, "very technical, hard to find the rhythm but I am happy with the ride. I had no real racing after the Giro. It was a tough way to start but I am content about it."
"I didn’t have big illusions. I didn’t expect to win or take the jersey. I was nervous which is logical. It’s been a long time since I was on a ramp of a TT in the Tour." He continued, "I am happy and having fun. I really wanted to be here. What a beautiful setting here in the Principality. The people were great." Armstrong said on his ambitions to win his eighth tour.
Leipheimer took to the course and set the new time to beat at 20:02Levi’s time held up for well over an hour until teammate Kl?den became the first rider to go under the 20-minute mark with a time of 19:54, showing that he is another card the team can play in the three-week Tour.
Contador was the final Team Astana rider on course, starting just behind Cancellara. Alberto set the fastest time at the top of the only checkpoint. Riding for the first time in his Spanish national Time Trial kit won last week, Contador looked truly fast to the naked eye as he pushed over the pedals and chased Cancellara. But the Swiss champion dominated his specialty once again and claimed the spoils in the opening stage of this year’s Tour. Other team riders rode well too, with Sergio Paulinho taking 33rd at 1:15 off the winning pace.
Sunday’s stage two takes the riders up over a climb to get out of Monaco and back to France on the 187km/116mi course from Monaco to Brignoles in the first of many sprint stages.
Top Ten Results
1 Fabian Cancellara (Swi) Team Saxo Bank 19:32
2 Alberto Contador Velasco (Spa) Astana 0:18
3 Bradley Wiggins (GBr) Garmin – Slipstream 0:19
4 Andreas Kl?den (Ger) Astana 0:22
5 Cadel Evans (Aus) Silence – Lotto 0:23
6 Levi Leipheimer (USA) Astana 0:30
7 Roman Kreuziger (Cze) Liquigas 0:32
8 Tony Martin (Ger) Team Columbia – HTC 0:33
9 Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Liquigas 0:37
10 Lance Armstrong (USA) Astana 0:40