Tour de France: Lampaert in yellow as Thomas rallies after a clothing error | Tour de France
Ineos Grenadiers’ Geraint Thomas threw caution to the wind in the Copenhagen rain as the 2022 Tour de France got underway with a treacherous opening stage individual time trial in the Danish capital.
Thomas, who won on an equally tough course at the start of the 2018 Tour in Düsseldorf, “pulled the pin” on a nervous start to the stage, but that was not enough to propel him into the top 10, as defending champion Tadej Pogacar (UAE Emirates) was faster than all his rivals for the final victory in Paris. Belgium’s Yves Lampaert, riding for Quickstep-Alpha Vinyl, was deemed an unexpected stage winner despite his time trial pedigree, and claimed the first yellow jersey, as controversy over the team’s omission of the sprinter Mark Cavendish has finally calmed down. “My mind is exploding,” Lampaert said in tears after his win.
Thomas raced in a sleeveless vest over his aero kit after forgetting to take it off after his warm-up. “It was the worst first half of a time trial I’ve ever done,” said the Welshman. “Everyone tells you to take it easy, but the main thing when I won in Düsseldorf is just fluidity. It was so small, stop and start. When I heard the time gaps, 18 seconds behind Mathieu van der Poel, I thought: “Come on, race” and then I got better.
“The legs were good anyway, but it’s a shame for that flashing vest. Because I zipped it up tight, I forgot I was wearing it and no one spotted it. I thought about removing it but that would have been a bit dodgy.
“The main thing is that the legs felt good, really good to be fair. When I cut the power I had plenty of them. Mentally it was one of the time trials the harder than I’ve ever done.
The stage was dominated by the Jumbo-Visma riders with Wout van Aert, Primoz Roglic and Jonas Vingaard all finishing in the top 10. Among the early starters, Van Aert set the fastest time but as the rain came subsided, later in the afternoon his time was overtaken by Lampaert.
Still, the dice already seem cast with Pogacar finishing the fastest of the main contenders for overall victory. The 23-year-old Slovenian, reserved in the earlier and more technical sections of the course, picked up the pace towards the finish in a display suggesting he had retained the flying form that recently secured victory on his home tour.
Thomas and his British teammate, Adam Yates, unsure of his form after a recent fight with Covid-19, will rightly point to the thousands of kilometers of racing still to come, but it is already clear that the two-time Slovenian Tour winner will , as expected, be the racer to beat.
Yates, sporting an oversized helmet and visor last worn by Darth Vader, posted a better time than expected and could return to his best form as the race progresses.
The Tour superstars opted to pick their start times based on forecasted weather conditions, but the best-laid plans backfired when the skies opened up almost at the start of the stage. Staying upright and minimizing risk on the first stage of the Tour immediately became the priority, but even so the slippery city streets surprised some.
As Pogacar watched, his main rivals, Slovenian compatriot Roglic and Danish team-mate Vingaard fueled the expected leadership battle within their Jumbo-Visma team by finishing just a second apart. Their duel for supremacy, alongside their battle to overthrow Pogacar, will likely be one of the talking points of the Tour.
In what should be a stressful and hectic race weekend, ahead of Monday’s long transfer to northern France, an all-too-familiar second story follows the peloton after French prosecutors, in coordination with Europol, confirmed that their third raid in a year, and second in a week, in the Bahrain Victorious team, was in search of banned substances.
“Law enforcement and judicial authorities in France, Belgium, Spain, Croatia, Italy, Poland and Slovenia have taken coordinated action against the use of banned substances in cycle races,” said Europol said in a statement.
“The investigation was carried out by OCLAESP under the supervision of the French public prosecutor’s office in Marseille to examine possible allegations of doping by a cycling team participating in the Tour de France.
“Three people have been interviewed. The investigation is ongoing and the evidence seized is undergoing forensic examination.
“The properties of several riders and their staff were raided in Belgium, Spain, Croatia, Italy, Poland and Slovenia.”
Meanwhile, a statement from the French prosecutor’s office in Marseille, where the investigation is based, contradicts what the Bahrain Victorious team said after Thursday’s raid, when they said “no objects were grasped”.
According to the French authorities, “electronic equipment (telephones, computers, hard drives) and medicines – the nature and origin of which remain undetermined, or which require a prescription – were seized”.