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Sagan wins prologue at 2013 Tour of Alberta

Slovak powerhouse lands first leader's jersey in Alberta

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Peter Sagan won the prologue at the Tour of Alberta in Edmonton on Tuesday night. Sagan (Cannondale) blazed the 7.3-kilometer individual time trial in 8:28 to best Rohan Dennis (Garmin-Sharp) by 13 seconds.

Tobias Ludvigsson (Argos-Shimano) was third, at 14 seconds.

Sagan pulled on the first-ever leader’s jersey for the inaugural event and will carry the overall lead into Wednesday’s first stage. Stage 1 travels 158km from Strathcona County to Camrose.

“After tour of Colorado [USA Pro Challenge] I feel very good,” said Sagan. “I was trying to do well also here, and the first stage was very important. I was hoping to take victory today, and I did a very, very good prologue.”

Tuesday’s prologue opened the first-year event with a power riders’ showdown. The course dropped 60 meters in the opening 2km before gradually climbing to the finish. Simon Geschke (Argos-Shimano) started first and set the early fast time of 9:03, but a steady run of riders would displace him atop the leaderboard late in the evening.

With 15 riders still to finish, Dennis took to the hot seat, registering an 8:41. The Aussie’s time held for 12 starters, but, as many expected, Sagan blasted his way toward the podium along the Saskatchewan River.

“I knew there was still Cadel [Evans] to come and Peter,” said Dennis. “I was confident that I would get top three, but Peter destroyed me by 13 seconds or something. I didn’t expect it to be by that much. … He’s got the horsepower, and he’s always going to be that good at that distance.”

The night’s final two starters — 2011 Tour de France champion Cadel Evans (BMC Racing) and 2012 Giro d’Italia champion Ryder Hesjedal (Garmin) — finished fourth, at 20 seconds, and 10th, at 30 seconds, respectively.

“It would have been better to put time into [Sagan] today, but he’s proven many times,” said Hesjedal, the most famed of the Canadians in the race. “People knew that he was capable of winning this race today and take time bonuses and sprint, too. He can easily win the GC here based on his ability and the course. That’s if things go by the normal script, but we all know things can happen, and that’s why we get on the bike every day.”

Sagan said he would try to defend the leader’s jersey, but pointed toward the Grand Prix Québec City and Montréal as his main objectives in a two-week Canadian campaign.

“I feel good,” he said. “I try hard to hold the yellow jersey, but I am still preparing for Quebec and Montreal. I will have to see what I can do and what the team will do, day by day.” contributor Mike Marino contributed to this report.

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