FABIAN CANCELLARA OF Switzerland held on to the Tour de France yellow jersey Sunday after being pipped at the finish line of the first stage by Slovakian Peter Sagan.
Meanwhile, Ireland’s representatives Dan Martin and Nicolas Roche finished in 8th and 18th respectively, meaning Martin is 24th and Roche 25th in the overall standings.
RadioShack rider Cancellara took the race leader’s jersey thanks to his opening day win on Saturday, when he repeated his Liege feat of 2004 to claim the fourth prologue win of his career.
But despite leaving a gaping hole when he pulled away from the peloton with 1.5 km remaining on the 2.4 km-long uphill finish, the Swiss was upstaged by on-form Liquigas rider Sagan.
The Slovakian soon attached himself to Cancellara’s back wheel and for the remaining 1200 metres refused to collaborate by taking a relay at the front to allow the Swiss a breather.
Norwegian Edvald Boasson Hagen of Team Sky, meanwhile, caught up with the pair to create a three-man sprint at the finish.
But after Cancellara started to sprint inside the final 300 metres, Sagan pulled in front to claim his maiden win on the race and continue his impressive season so far.
1. Fabian Cancellara (SUI/RSH) 5h05min 32sec
2. Bradley Wiggins (GBR/SKY) at 0:07.
3. Sylvain Chavanel (FRA/OPQ) 0:07.
4. Tejay Van Garderen (USA/BMC) 0:10.
5. Edvald Boasson Hagen (NOR/SKY) 0:11.
6. Denis Menchov (RUS/KAT) 0:13.
7. Philippe Gilbert (BEL/BMC) 0:13.
8. Cadel Evans (AUS/BMC) 0:17.
9. Vincenzo Nibali (ITA/LIQ) 0:18.
10. Ryder Hesjedal (CAN/GRM) 0:18.
24. Daniel Martin (IRL/GRM) 0:24.
25. Nicolas Roche (IRL/ALM) 0:25.