Aside from the first winner of this year's Tour, Fabian Cancellara, the clear winner was Team sky who sent the message to anyone concerned, that they were here to win this thing.
Looking like a sleek black bull in his Radio-Shack/Nissan skinsuit, Cancellara charged through the streets of Liege to best the best riders in the world by seven seconds. It shouldn't have been much of a surprise that Cancellara won, now the Tour's only five time winner of the opener, but the day was not without some unexpected moments and results.
Team sky won the team competition with strong performances from of course Bradley Wiggins (2nd +:07), but from Bosson-Hagen (5th +:11), and Dark Horse Froome (11th, +16) as well. Not much of a surprise here either.
Hometown favorite Phillippe Gilbert had a fantastic ride and was clearly spurred on by the huge crowds lining the course, finishing just 13 seconds off the winning pace of Cancellara. However, it was Sylvain Chavanel who arguably had the ride of the day, finishing third behind Wiggins and 'Spartacus'. He held the 'hot' seat for quite a while today before he had to give it up, but he's surely not disappointed his ride.
Tejay van Garderen wears the White jersey of the best young rider and it appears that the American is starting to grow into his expectations.
Eventhough he is wearing the legendary 'Number 51' Vincent Nibali didn't gain any extra strength from the assignment finishing within ten seconds +/- or so of the other contenders, and now resides in the same standings neighborhood of Evans, Menchov, and Gesink.
Big disappointing performances of the day belonged to Frank "I told you so" Schleck and David "I like to make jokes when I lose" Zabriske. Zabriske, sounding like a 12 year old boy tweeting "I'm 69 ing this race to death", referring to his placing (69) and race number (#69) I'm sure. Mechanicals marred a couple of stellar rides by some TT favorites (Martin, tire; Sagan, pedals) that might have shaken up the results had everything been working properly.
Stage 1 Preview
A relatively long first stage winds through the Ardennes tomorrow. The profile shows a nice little bump at the end that might favor local boy Gilbert who is only :13 seconds away from the yellow jersey and who surely knows these roads well enough to time one of his explosive attacks. Everyone else might have their eyes on Peter Sagan who could use his power to pull away from a surely charging field into Seraing. Keep your eyes on Samuel Sanchez as well. He's a bit down in the standings, and might be off everyone's radar just enough to 'pop' a Stage 1 surprise.