By VeloNews Interactive, Copyright AFP2003
Fassa Bortolo’s Alessandro Petacchi resumed his winning ways by taking the first stage of the Tour de France Sunday, a 168km ride from the outskirts of Paris to Meaux.Australian Bradley McGee will spend his second night in the Tour de France leader’s yellow jersey after the crash-marred first stage Sunday in which compatriot Robbie McEwen came second to take the green points jersey.
A crash just inside the final kilometer of the 168km ride from the outskirts of Paris to here looked to have snagged 27-year-old fdjeux.com rider
McGee but moments later he crossed the finish line with team-mate Sandy Casar.
“Thankfully nothing’s broken, everything’s okay but I’m a bit worried about Jimmy,” said McGee, referring to his teammate Jimmy Casper who was taken to hospital after flying over his handlebars while riding at over 55kph.
McGee, who came off his bike but got back up and rode over the finish line with the arm of teammate Casar around his shoulders, added: “It was a calm stage until then. Having a crash is unfortunate but it’s something that sometimes can’t be avoided in cycling.”
McEwen, the 31-year-old sprinter with the Belgian Lotto team, took hold of the green jersey he won last year after stopping Erik Zabel from winning it for a seventh straight year.
Another Aussie sprinter, fdjeux.com’s Baden Cooke, came fifth to notch up his sixth top-seven finish on the Tour after an impressive debut last year.
Petacchi, the Fassa Bortolo sprinter who recently won six stages at the Giro d’Italia, where McEwen himself won two, coming second behind his Italian nemesis on a few occasions.
“It’s always the same, second place,” McEwen lamented after the race.
“Tomorrow’s another day and hopefully the team will be able to work as hard for me then as they did today.” The polka dot jersey for the best climber went to fdjeux.com rider Christophe Mengin, who was part of a three-man breakaway that escaped after the day’s first intermediate sprint.
Copyright AFP2003To see how today’s stage unfolded, check our Live Update and check back soon for a full stage report from Andrew Hood, complete results, photos from Casey Gibson and Graham Watson, as well as a diary from Michael Rogers, analysis from John Wilcockson and word from our Aussie on the scene, Rupert Guinness.