Quick-Step's Lampaert shocks 'big guys' in Tour de France opener

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Defending Tour de France champion, Tadej Pogacar, about to start his damp time trial in Copenhagen. (Photo: UAE Team Emirates)
Defending Tour de France champion, Tadej Pogacar, about to start his damp time trial in Copenhagen. (Photo: UAE Team Emirates)

Belgian Yves Lampaert won the first stage of the Tour de France on Friday, gate-crashing the opening day individual time-trial as crowds defied the rain along the 13.2km route in downtown Copenhagen.

Quick-Step rider Lampaert suffered less from the rain with his later start than the pre-race favourites, finishing five seconds ahead of compatriot Wout van Aert, with defending champion Tadej Pogacar third best seven seconds off the pace.

Massive crowds packed the route in the Danish capital that sped past the Little Mermaid statue, the harbour-front Blox building and the Amalienborg palace, where Crown Prince Frederik joined the celebration.

Tour de France
Yves Lampaert was not among the favourites for a win but mastered the tricky conditions in Copenhagen. (Photo: Wout Beel)

Flat tyre for the World Champ 

The 31-year-old Lampaert was overwhelmed with emotion when he realised he will wear the overall leader's yellow jersey on Saturday's second stage.

"I was hoping for a top ten, but not this," said the 2021 Belgian time-trial champion. "I beat the big guys."

Dutch rider Mathieu van der Poel had set the early pace when the rain was at its heaviest, but could not survive the passing of the big guns. World champion Filippo Ganna, suffered a puncture on the route, undoing his chance at a win.

Tour de France
The conditions might not have been ideal, but the Tour de France spirit was strong, in Copenhagen. (Photo: A.S.O/Pauline Ballet/Charly Lopez/Jered Gruber)

Defending champ - in white

Slovenian Pogacar then threw down the gauntlet to his title rivals cruising through the puddles, the 23-year-old all-rounder sprinted out of every corner in an expert ride. 

Two-time defending champion Pogacar pulled on the white jersey as the fastest under-25 rider. "It's great to be back on the Tour, the white jersey was my aim today," said the Team UAE leader.

After a week of sweltering sun with Danes flocking to their beach lidos, rain began to fall on Copenhagen an hour ahead of the race.

But Danes enjoy an outdoor lifestyle and were almost uniformly equipped with colourful ponchos, producing a party atmosphere.

French sports minister Amelie Oudea-Castera was in Copenhagen for the race and said up to 600 000 fans had turned up for the what she described as "a lovely course in a magnificent city".

Wind and rain are forecast along the 202km coastal route for Saturday's stage two from Roskilde to Nyborg which should see a shake up the standings with a predicted crosswind on the giant 20km Grand Belt Bridge at the end of the race.

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