Germany?s Stefan Schumacher is the first leader of the Eneco Tour ProTour cycling race after winning the opening 5.8km prologue time trial around the northern Dutch town of Den Helder on Wednesday.
The 25 year-old Gerolsteiner rider set a time of exactly seven minutes for the flat coast that included a long section along the beach. America?s George Hincapie (Discovery Channel) finished second in a time of 7:01, with Dutchman Joost Posthuma (Rabobank) third in a time of 7:01.8. Current world champion Tom Boonen of Belgium finished an impressive fifth in 7:04. He will try and take the leader?s jersey from Schumacher by winning the flat stages and taking time bonuses.
Britain?s Bradley Wiggins (Cofidis – pictured) finished just outside the top ten with a time of 7-13. The Eneco Tours marks the start of Wiggins? build up to the world time trial championships in Salzburg, Austria on September 21.
Schumacher won two stages of the Giro d?Italia in May and wore the race leader?s pink jersey for two days with some aggressive riding. He is determined to get similar results in the Eneco Tour and considers himself an overall contender for the eight-day race that crosses Holland and Belgium.
?I started the race determined to do well and I knew I had a chance of winning the prologue,? he said.
?I?m going to try and win the race overall because the course suits me. The stage four time trial around Landgraaf and the final stage to Ans in Belgium seem made to measure for me. Of course there are still seven stages to go and anything can happen because there are a lot of other potential winners.?
Schumacher will wear the race leader?s jersey during Thursday?s stage one from Wieringerwerf to Hoogeveen in northern Holland but may lose it to Boonen if the big Belgian can win the expected sprint and take the time bonus.