Erik Zabel won the first road stage of the Tour de France from Saint-Omer to Boulogne-sur-Mer with an explosive sprint finish. He beat off Romans Vainsteins of the Domo team and Frenchman Jimmy Casper. The German Telekom rider managed to survive the overcast conditions to clinch his ninth Tour stage victory and recapture the green points jersey, which he will hope to win for a record sixth time.
The early part of the stage saw the enthusiastic Jacky Durand and compatriot Christophe Oriol escape for over 120km, and despite a failed attempt at a last minute move from Laurent Brochard, the stage was destined for a tight sprint finish. Zabel skilfully came through the pack to win by a bike length, despite the lack of team support to lead him out.
There was little change at the top of the overall standing, so Christophe Moreau of the Festina team will keep his yellow jersey for the stage to Antwerp. However David Millar and American Jonathan Vaugthers lost contact with the front of the bunch and dropped nearly six minutes. The young Brit is now laying a disappointing 177th overall. It was also a disasterous day for Italian national champion Daneile Nardello who suffered a terrible fall and came in at over 12 minutes down.
Stage one results. Saint-Omer to Boulogne-sur-Mer
1st Erik Zabel (Team Telekom) 5h’55m’15s.
2nd Romans Vainsteins (Domo)
3rd Jimmy Casper (FDJ)
4th Thor Hushovd (Credit Agricole)
5th Jaan Kirsipuu (AG2R)
6th Damien Nazon (Bonjour)
7th Steven de Jongh (Rabobank)
8th Christophe Capelle (Big Mat)
9th Sven Teutenberg (Festina)
10th Nico Mattan (Cofidis) all at same time.