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Stage 1 Winners and Losers

Robbie McEwen got an early jump on the points comp today, which would come as no surprise whatsoever to anyone who didn't see it. But with 10km to go, McEwen was furiously struggling to catch back on to the main group after a small crash, surrounded by teammates but with pain in his wrist. McEwen indeed made it back on, fought his way into position, and blasted past the cream of the sprinting crop with unbelievable ease. So, naturally, he gets our star of the day. Let's see who else did something.

  • David Millar is a winner, coming away from home with the spotty jersey on his back. Sure, that's a consolation prize, but Millar's prospects for anything else weren't good, and he claimed the KOM prize in the most impressive fashion, launching a ridiculous attack just after the neutral start in London. All was nearly lost, as Stéphane Augé caught him in time for second place at the first KOM, and stayed away to win the second KOM, but Millar - by then back in the peloton - wound it up for his own second placing, earning the jersey on some sort of tiebreaker I don't understand. So good for him. The home crowds were unbelievable today, they deserved something to cheer.
  • Thor Hushovd put to rest rumors that he came here in less than top form by coming around Tom Boonen for second place. There was nothing anyone could do to stop McEwen, but Thor showed he'll be a contender, after some people were left wondering from his lack of results so far this year.
  • Tom Boonen heads the loser category. This was a stage made for him: long, straight finish, McEwen down on the tarmac close to the line, and he had his "train" out front doing their best to set him up to win. But the train disintegrated in the last KM (with Milram swarming to the front for Erik Zabel, or maybe just out of habit), and Boonen couldn't match either Thor or McEwen for speed. This is not an encouraging sign for either rider or squad, all of whom still have something to prove in the Tour.
  • Daniele Bennati was the lowest placed of the sprint kings, at 52nd. His teammate Danilo Napolitano was near the front but got boxed in and wound up 19th. Another Italian success in France, er England. Tomorrow is another day, but those zeros are hard to overcome in the points competition.
  • Mark Cavendish had the worst day (except for the Agritubel guy who DNF'ed). He fell with McEwen and a couple others at the 20km mark to go, and had some further bike trouble to boot. That and no pink jerseys around to help bring him back put paid to his chances of a dream home win. These things happen, but it was a hard lesson for the 22-year-old sprinter, who'd been on a roll before today.