World champion time-trialist fulfills expectations; but look at contenders
Great Britain's got young talent in Tony Martin. He tackled the 8.9 kilometer Prologue course early before rain set in and set a fast mark that stood until the next to last rider of the day: 10 minutes, 10 seconds. Only heavily favored Fabian Cancellara of Switzerland bested Martin, finishing right at 10 minutes. Cancellara will wear the first Yellow Jersey as the overall race leader, but Martin will wear the first White Jersey for the best young rider (under age 26).
WHAT ABOUT THE CONTENDERS? Time trial specialists are expected to do well in the Prologue. But what about the cyclists who have their sights set on winning the Tour de France? Here's how some of those considered to vie for the best in the General Classification (GC, best overall time) finished the Prologue (place and time down to Cancellara):
4th - Lance Armstrong (USA) -22
6th - Alberto Contador (SPA) -27
8th - Levi Leipheimer (USA) -28
18th - Alexandr Vinokourov (KZK) -38
22nd - Cadel Evans (AUS) -39
23rd - Luis-Leon Sanchez (SPA) -39
68th - Carlos Sastre (SPA) -54
78th - Denis Menchov (RUS) -58
CONTENDER SEPARATION. Being down by 30 seconds or a minute or more to the race leader after the Prologue is not insurmountable for any contender. The Alps and Pyrenees mountains will quickly erase those distinctions for most contenders. But it still means that Armstrong and Contador--who will both do as well in the mountains as any other contender--have set themselves up as the race favorites and the other contenders will be playing catch up..
ADVANTAGE ARMSTRONG. As for the Armstrong vs Contador showdown in this 3-week long shoot out, it's Armstrong - 1, Contador - 0. Stay tuned. It's psychological warfare. It's now Contador's move. This is gonna be crazy!