By Bryan JewVeloNews Senior Writer
The story of Stage 1 of this year’s Tour de France seems typical enough for an opening road stage: a slow early pace; a long, eventually unsuccessful breakaway; a mass field sprint; and a stage win by one of the star sprinters of the Tour, Telekom’s Erik Zabel.
Routine enough, but the 194.5km stage from Saint-Omer to Boulogne-sur-Mer in the very north of France was anything but an ordinary, flat, sprinters stage.
The stage began in the town of Saint-Omer, about 50km inland from the North Sea. Under gray skies and a light drizzle, 188 starters rolled out of town. Lotto-Adecco’s Fabian De Waele was the only non-starter, victim of a hairline fracture of his right hip, suffered during a crash in Saturday’s prologue in Dunkirk.
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