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Belgian rider soaks up a victory

by The Associated Press | July 2, 2022 at 2:03 a.m.
Yves Lampaert of Belgium finishes first in the first stage of the Tour de France on Friday in Copenhagen, Denmark. Lampaert finished the 8.2-mile ride in 15:17. More photos at arkansasonline.com/72tour22/ (AP/Daniel Cole)


COPENHAGEN, Denmark -- Although Belgian rider Yves Lampaert caused a surprise by winning the Tour de France opening stage, two-time defending champion Tadej Pogacar wouldn't have been bothered at finishing third on Friday.

His priority was testing his race legs and placing ahead of his Slovenian countryman and main rival Primoz Roglic, the 2020 runner-up, who was eighth in the time trial.

"I'm feeling confident, satisfied, even though it was tense and tight for me," Pogacar said. "It's still one of my best Tour starts."

Lampaert is a former world champion in team time trial but this was his first stage win at the three-week Tour. He clocked 15 minutes, 17 seconds on the eight-mile route around Copenhagen.

The Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl rider was five seconds ahead of countryman Wout van Aert -- Roglic's Jumbo-Visma teammate -- and seven ahead of Pogacar, who leads UAE Team Emirates. Pogacar was a measly nine seconds clear of Roglic.

Lampaert could scarcely believe it when he realized he won, wiping away tears and putting his hands on his mouth.

He couldn't believe another thing, either, beating Van Aert -- a three-time cyclo-cross world champion, multiple one-day classics winner and two-time national time trial champ.

"I beat the great Van Aert! It's unbelievable for me, I never thought about wearing the yellow jersey. My head's exploding," Lampaert said. "I was expecting to finish in the top 10. That would have been very good, and now I've beaten all the best."

The rain was teeming when Roglic finished under grey skies shortly after 4:30 p.m., and still lashing when Pogacar set off around 40 minutes later. Even though he is a specialist in the wet weather, Pogacar looked cautious taking the first turn.

It might have cost him victory.

Riders set off to loud cheers.

"There was so much noise you could hardly hear anything in the earpiece," French rider David Gaudu said.

The noise level went up again when local rider Jonas Vingegaard -- Roglic's teammate and the Tour runner-up last year -- rolled down the start ramp. He placed seventh, one second ahead of Roglic.

Large parts of the Danish capital were shut down. The wet roads made the route treacherous -- especially the section across the square of Amalienborg Palace, the main residence of Denmark's royal family, which is paved with cobblestones.

Swiss rider Stefan Bissegger fell off twice, but continued.

The stage went past the city's other best known landmarks, including the Little Mermaid statue, sitting on her perch at the entrance of the harbor.

There are two more stages in Denmark this weekend, including crossing the Great Belt Bridge that links the Zealand island, where Copenhagen sits, and the central isle of Funen.

The first start in Denmark -- but the 24th time the race has started outside of France -- was supposed to be held in 2021 but postponed a year because of the coronavirus pandemic.

After the Danish stages, the riders travel to France with a stage between Dunkerque and Calais.

The race ends in Paris on July 24.

  photo  Stage winner and new overall leader Belgium's Yves Lampaert wipes a tear on the podium after the first stage of the Tour de France cycling race, an individual time trial over 13.2 kilometers (8.2 miles) with start and finish in Copenhagen, Denmark, Friday, July 1, 2022. (AP Photo/Daniel Cole)
 
 
  photo  Stage winner Belgium's Yves Lampaert, wearing the overall leader's yellow jersey, celebrates on the podium after the first stage of the Tour de France cycling race, an individual time trial over 13.2 kilometers (8.2 miles) with start and finish in Copenhagen, Denmark, Friday, July 1, 2022. (AP Photo/Thibault Camus)
 
 
  photo  Slovenia's Tadej Pogacar passes the Little Mermaid statue by Edvard Eriksen during the first stage of the Tour de France cycling race, an individual time trial over 13.2 kilometers (8.2 miles) with start and finish in Copenhagen, Denmark, Friday, July 1, 2022. (AP Photo/Daniel Cole)
 
 
  photo  Fans cheer prior to the first stage of the Tour de France cycling race, an individual time trial over 13.2 kilometers (8.2 miles) with start and finish in Copenhagen, Denmark, Friday, July 1, 2022. (AP Photo/Thibault Camus)
 
 
  photo  Slovenia's Primoz Roglic rides during the first stage of the Tour de France cycling race, an individual time trial over 13.2 kilometers (8.2 miles) with start and finish in Copenhagen, Denmark, Friday, July 1, 2022. (AP Photo/Daniel Cole)
 
 
  photo  A French gendarme, part of the security detail of the race, takes pictures of the Little Mermaid statue by Edvard Eriksen prior to the first stage of the tour de France cycling race, an individual time trial over 13.2 kilometers (8.2 miles) with start and finish in Copenhagen, Denmark, Friday, July 1, 2022. (AP Photo/Daniel Cole)
 
 
  photo  Belgium's Wout Van Aert rides during the first stage of the Tour de France cycling race, an individual time trial over 13.2 kilometers (8.2 miles) with start and finish in Copenhagen, Denmark, Friday, July 1, 2022. (AP Photo/Daniel Cole)
 
 
  photo  Slovenia's Tadej Pogacar rides during the first stage of the Tour de France cycling race, an individual time trial over 13.2 kilometers (8.2 miles) with start and finish in Copenhagen, Denmark, Friday, July 1, 2022. (AP Photo/Thibault Camus)
 
 


  photo  Denmark’s Magnus Cort Nielsen passes the Little Mermaid statue by Edvard Eriksen during the first stage of the Tour de France on Friday in Copenhagen, Denmark. The three-week race, which concludes July 24 in Paris, has two more stages in Denmark this weekend. More photos at arkansasonline.com/72tour22/ (AP/Daniel Cole)
 
 



 Gallery: Tour de France 2022: Time trials



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