Frenchman Julien El Fares (Cofidis) was the surprise winner of the opening stage of Tirreno-Adriatico after being part of a two-rider breakaway that held off the sprinters.

The 23 year-old second year professional broke away with Vladimir Duma (Flaminia) after 30km of the 145km and then beat the Ukraine rider to take the first win of his career.

Daniele Bennati (Liquigas) won the sprint for third ahead of Alessandro Petacchi (LPR) and Tom Boonen (Quick Step) but the bunch 12 seconds finished behind the two breakaways after letting them get too much of a gap before the final climb.

Mark Cavendish (Columbia) finished in a chase group after being forced to change bikes at the foot of the last climb 18km from the finish. His chain became entangled with his rear gear and with the Columbia team car in 19th place in the race convoy; Cavendish had no chance of getting back on.

The other British riders in Tirreno-Adriatico also lost some time. Daniel Lloyd (Cervelo) was best British finisher in 73rd place, 1-16 down. Charly Wegelius (Silence) was 133rd at 1-57, Steve Cummings was 142nd, Geraint Thomas was 154th, and Roger Hammond (Cervelo) was 160th, all at 4-43.

El Fares is the first French rider to win a stage at Tirreno-Adriatico since Laurent Jalabert. Thanks to time bonuses he leads Duma by five seconds, with Bennati third at 21 seconds.

?I?d hoped to show myself in my second season at Cofidis but I never imagined I?d win a stage at an important race like Tirreno-Adriatico,? El Fares said after his win.

?I think we were a little but lucky with the break. I attacked first, Duma came with me and we worked really well together. I honestly thought the peloton would still catch us but there was a strong tail wind, they hesitated on the climb, perhaps waiting for their sprinters and then we dived down the descent to the finish.?

?I was always confident in the sprint and managed to make Duma a little nervous.?

The sprinters will be out for revenge on Thursday?s second stage from Volterra to Marina di Carrara but El Fares believes he can hold onto the green and white race leader?s jersey for several stages.

?I?m a good puncheur and climber so I don?t see why I can?t keep the leader?s jersey even after Saturday?s stage to Montelupone,? he said confidently.

?I?m not scared of the steep climb to the finish but perhaps I?ll lose time in Sunday?s time trial. Whatever happens I?m happy to have won my first race as a professional.?

The 177km second stage includes the Monte Serra climb near Pisa and then two short climbs near the finish.

Tirreno-Adriatico stage one: Results

1. Julien El Fares (Fra) Cofidis 145km in 3hr 34min 3secs


2. Vladimir Duma (Ukr) Ceramica Flaminia at same time

3. Daniele Bennati (Ita) Liquigas at 12secs

4. Alessandro Petacchi (Ita) LPR Brakes

5. Tom Boonen (Bel) Quick Step

6. Fabian Wegmann (Ger) Milram

7. Enrico Rossi (Ita) Ceramica Flaminia

8. Leonardo Duque (Col) Cofidis

9. Assan Bazayev (Kaz) Astana

10. Matti Breschel (Den) Saxo Bank all same time

British

76. Dan Lloyd (Gbr) Cervelo at 1min 16secs

133. Charly Wegelius (Gbr) Silence at 1min 57secs

142. Steve Cummings (Gbr) Barloworld

154. Geraint Thomas (Gbr) Barloworld

160. Roger Hammond (Gbr) Cervelo all at 4-43

183. Mark Cavendish (Gbr) Columbia at 7mins 14secs.

Overall classification after stage one

1 Julien El Fares (Fra) Cofidis


2 Vladimir Duma (Ukr) Ceramica Flaminia at 5secs

3 Daniele Bennati (Ita) Liquigas at 21secs

4. Alessandro Petacchi (Ita) LPR Brakes

5. Tom Boonen (Bel) Quick Step

6. Fabian Wegmann (Ger) Milram

7. Enrico Rossi (Ita) Ceramica Flaminia

8. Leonardo Duque (Col) Cofidis

9. Assan Bazayev (Kaz) Astana

10. Matti Breschel (Den) Saxo Bank all at 25secs

British

73. Dan Lloyd (Gbr) Cervelo at 1min 29secs

133. Charly Wegelius (Gbr) Silence at 2min 1secs

142. Steve Cummings (Gbr) Barloworld

154. Geraint Thomas (Gbr) Barloworld

160. Roger Hammond (Gbr) Cervelo all at 4mins 56secs

183. Mark Cavendish (Gbr) Columbia at 7mins 27secs.


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