Cycling: Millar powers Garmin to win and Hushovd into yellow

Five seconds split top five teams as Sky's Thomas just misses out on overall lead

A blistering team time trial ride yesterday by David Millar's Garmin-Cervélo squad propelled reigning world champion Thor Hushovd to yellow and Millar to second overall, whilst Sky's agonisingly close third place saw Welshman Geraint Thomas narrowly missing out on the overall lead.

On a flat and largely straightforward course of just 23 kilometres, not even strongly gusting winds could widen the minimal margins between the top five team finishers, with Garmin-Cervélo's advantage over a trio of chasing squads – Americans BMC, Sky and Leopard – just four seconds.

That said, Garmin-Cervélo had pulled out every stop available to ensure they could take the team's first ever Tour de France stage, travelling to the Vendée's patchwork countryside of hayfields and meadowlands two days earlier than other squads last week specifically to check out the time trial route.

Despite losing their stocky Kiwi sprinter Julian Dean early on and American fastman Tyler Farrar a little later, Garmin-Cervélo kept a perfectly controlled single line formation as they blasted along the straight, tree-lined country lanes west of Les Essarts.

Whilst Millar's time-trial skills meant he was one of the riders taking the biggest turns at the front, Hushovd's burly figure was the first to power across the line and – after a prolonged and increasingly tense wait as 13 more teams completed the course – earned the Norwegian the right to his first yellow jersey since he won the opening prologue of the 2006 Tour.

Ironically enough, Hushovd's strong performance was what kept Millar out of the yellow himself, given the Scot said afterwards that, had the reigning world road-race champion been dropped, "the team would have continued without him."

"The big goal for us was the stage win. The yellow jersey is the icing on the cake," Millar pointed out. "Everybody suffered massively, going way over the limit, because this is the hardest team time trial to win of them all.

"But experience makes a big difference in team time trials and there were a core of four or five of us who have done team time trials together many times, and we were able to make the most of that."

If Hushovd and Garmin-Cervélo team manager Jonathan Vaughters turned a shade nostalgic on the podium, that was understandable, given they had been team-mates when their GAN squad had won the Tour's team time trial back in 2001.

"Obviously I didn't do anything on the bike today, but this race was going to be tight and to put together a group of riders that could win is a very special feeling," Vaughters said. "I know what they had to do and to be able to support that makes me very proud."

Millar himself was content to savour the flavour of his first Tour stage win since 2003, rather than focus on the remote possibility of taking the lead himself in the coming week, saying simply "I'm taking it on the day by day."

Fourth overall, Thomas was philosophical in coming so close at exchanging his white jersey as leader of the Best Young Rider's competition to yellow of overall lead.

The Welshman had been instrumental in Sky's top-level performance, taking a big turn as soon as the nine riders shot out of the starting lanes, then shouldering more than his proportional share of the work at the head of the Sky string as they sped over the pancake flat course.

After marking the best time at the first intermediate split, Sky seemed more than in line for victory.

However, after losing two riders, Xavier Zandio and German powerhouse Christian Knees, simultaneously midway though the course, Sky faltered slightly and, as Vaughters pointed out when discussing another team, "this course was so close you couldn't afford to make a single error."

"It was full gas and Brad was going fast, I suffered then," Thomas said later. "But everybody did their bit – they didn't slow it down, which is the main thing. I don't think we could have done it differently – it was pretty tough and we did quite well. When there's nine guys flat out in the wind like that, it can be tricky."

Wiggins himself was "slightly disappointed" that Thomas did not make it into yellow, but overall the British contender had a very satisfying day.

After Saturday's crash-ridden finale earned Wiggins 75 seconds on the favourite Alberto Contador, Sky's top-three finish yesterday gained the Londoner another 24 seconds on the Spaniard, whose Saxo Bank team took a low-key eighth.

"Team time trials are Garmin's speciality. We gave it 100 per cent and we ran them very close,"Wiggins said afterwards. "Overall, though, it's been a fantastic start to the Tour de France, and a complete contrast to how things went last year."

Rounding out a strong British performance all round, Mark Cavendish's HTC-Highroad squad ran fifth but were left cursing their bad luck after losing key team player Bernie Eisel, who crashed after a corner, almost as soon as the race began. The Manxman may well plan to put the record straight on today's first mass bunch sprint stage of the race.

Race details

Saturday: Stage 1 (Passage du Gois La Barre-de-Monts - Mont des Alouettes Les Herbiers, 191km):

1 P Gilbert (Bel) Omega Pharma-Lotto 4hrs 41mins 31secs

2 C Evans (Aus) BMC Racing Team + 3secs

3 T Hushovd (Nor) Team Garmin-Cervelo + 6secs

4 J J R Gil (Sp) Movistar Team

5 J Van Den Broeck (Bel) Omega Pharma-Lotto

6 G Thomas (GB) Sky Procycling

7 A Kloden (Ger) Team RadioShack

8 R Taaramae (Est) Cofidis; Le Credit En Ligne

9 C Horner (US) Team RadioShack

10 T Martin (Ger) HTC-Highroad

11 L Gerdemann (Ger) Leopard Trek; 12 F Schleck (Lux) Leopard Trek; 13 P Velits (Slovak) HTC-Highroad; 14 T Voeckler (Fr) Team Europcar; 15 D Cunego (It) Lampre-ISD; 16 D Millar (GB) Team Garmin-Cervelo; 17 A Vinokourov (Kaz) Pro Team Astana; 18 F Cancellara (Swit) Leopard Trek; 19 N Roche (Rep Ire) AG2R La Mondiale; 20 G Bole (Sloven) Lampre-ISD all at same time.

Selected Others: 63 B Wiggins (GB) Sky Procycling + 6secs; 153 M Cavendish (GB) HTC-Highroad at same time; 154 B Swift (GB) Sky Procycling at same time.



Stage 2 Team time-trial (Les Essarts-Les Essarts, 23km): 1 Team Garmin-Cervelo 24mins 48secs; 2 BMC Racing Team +4secs; 3 Sky Procycling at same time; 4 Team Leopard-Trek at same time; 5 HTC-Highroad +5secs; 6 Team Radioshack +10secs; 7 Rabobank Cycling Team +12secs; 8 Saxo Bank Sungard +28secs; 9 Pro Team Astana +32secs; 10 Omega Pharma-Lotto +39secs; 11 FDJ +46secs; 12 Team Europcar +50secs; 13 AG2R La Mondiale +53secs; 14 Quick Step Cycling Team +56secs; 15 Liquigas-Cannondale +57secs; 16 Saur-Sojasun +1min 2secs; 17 Lampre-Isd +1min 4secs; 18 Katusha Team at same time; 19 Movistar Team +1min 09secs; 20 Vacansoleil-Dcm +1min 15secs; 21 Cofidis Le Credit En Ligne +1min 20secs; 22 Euskaltel-Euskadi at same time

General classification after Stage 2: 1 T Hushovd (Nor) Team Garmin-Cervelo 5hrs 06mins 25secs; 2 D Millar (GB) Team Garmin-Cervelo at same time; 3 C Evans (Aus) BMC Racing Team at 1secs; 4 G Thomas (GB) Sky Procycling at 4secs; 5 L Gerdemann (Ger) Leopard Trek at same time; 6 F Schleck (Lux) Leopard Trek at same time; 7 F Cancellara (Swit) Leopard Trek at same time; 8 E B Hagen (Nor) Sky Procycling at same time; 9 M Quinziato (It) BMC Racing Team at same time; 10 A Schleck (Lux) Leopard Trek at same time; 11 J Fuglsang (Den) Leopard Trek at same time; 12 B Wiggins (GB) Sky Procycling at same time; 13 G Hincapie (US) BMC Racing Team at same time; 14 T Martin (Ger) HTC-Highroad at 5secs; 15 P Velits (Slovak) HTC-Highroad at same time; 16 T Van Garderen (US) HTC-Highroad at same time; 17 L Ytting Bak (Den) HTC-Highroad at same time; 18 M Cavendish (GB) HTC-Highroad at same time; 19 M H Goss (Aus) HTC-Highroad at same time; 20 A Kloden (Ger) Team RadioShack at 10secs. Selected other: 24 B Swift at 11secs.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Experienced Bookkeeper - German Speaking - Part Time

£23000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This firm of accountants based ...

Recruitment Genius: Operations Manager

£30000 - £38000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They are a financial services c...

Ashdown Group: Field Service Engineer

£30000 - £32000 per annum + car allowance and on call: Ashdown Group: A succes...

Recruitment Genius: Sales & Marketing Co-Ordinator

£15000 - £17000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Well established small company ...

Day In a Page

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

How a costume drama became a Sunday night staple
Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers as he pushes Tories on housing

Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers

Labour leader pushes Tories on housing
Aviation history is littered with grand failures - from the the Bristol Brabazon to Concorde - but what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?

Aviation history is littered with grand failures

But what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?
Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of Soviet-style 'iron curtains' right across Europe

Fortress Europe?

Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of 'iron curtains'
Never mind what you're wearing, it's what you're reclining on

Never mind what you're wearing

It's what you're reclining on that matters
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence