Bradley Wiggins stayed in yellow on a rainlashed first stage of the Dauphine Libere. The Briton had a trouble-free 219 kilometre ride from Grenoble to Roanne staying close to the front end of the bunch and well-protected by his Cofidis team-mates.
?I must have done the best bunch sprint ever in my career.? Wiggins half-jokingly told CW after the stage finish at Roanne, where he took 22nd. The stage win went to young German Heinrich Haussler (Gerolsteiner) who put in a late surge to beat no less a star than Tom Boonen (Quick Step).
?Things worked out exactly as planned.? Wiggins added. ?We wanted to keep the jersey, I got through the stage with no problems at all.?
The other problem were the extremely heavy rainstorms which lashed the bunch from time to time. ?That made it heavy going, particularly for anybody at the back on the bunch.? Wiggins observed.
The only negative factor for Cofidis was the lack of support from the sprinters teams until almost the last possible moment. ?We were expecting them to start doing more work for the last 50 kilometres, instead we were working all the way to 15 kilometres to go.?
Nonetheless Wiggins stayed in yellow and is now one day closer to his objective of leading the race on the Ventoux in honour of Tom Simpson.
Tuesday?s 157 kilometre stage between Saint-Paul-en-Jarez and Saint-Etienne is his first obstacle – far hillier than Monday?s stage, it could see a move go clear.
Hurdle number two will be the 40.7 kilometre time trial in Anneyron on Wednesday, which Wiggins says will ?be difficult. My only real reference point is seventh in the World Championships in Madrid back in 2005.?
However, his morale is good and as Wiggins himself says, ?with the form I?ve got at the moment, I might get through.?
DAUPHINE LIBERE: STAGE ONE, GRENOBLE – ROANNE
1 Heinrich Haussler (Ger) Gerolsteiner 219km in 5-35-05
2 Tom Boonen (Bel) Quick Step
3 Graeme Brown (Aus) Rabobank
4 Sebastian Chavanel (Fra) Cofidis
5 Andrei Greipel (Ger) T-Mobile
6 Thor Hushovd (Nor) Credit Agricole
7 Sebastian Siedler (Ger) Milram
8 Leonardo Duque (Col) Cofidis
9 Peter Wrolich (Aut) Gerolsteiner
10 Manuel Qunziato (Ita) Liquigas at st
22 Bradley Wiggins (GBr) Cofidis
123 David Millar (GBr) Saunier Duval-Prodir
1 Bradley Wiggins (GBR) Cofidis 5-39-55
2 Levi Leipheimer (USA) Discovery Channel at 1sec
3 Andrey Kashechkin (Kaz) Astana at 2sec
4 George Hincapie (USA) Discovery Channel at st
5 Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Caisse D?Epargne at 3sec
6 Dave Zabriskie (USA) CSC at st
7 Tom Boonen (Bel) Quick Step at 4sec
8 Nick Nuyens (Bel) Cofidis at 5sec
9 Egoi Martinez (Spa) Discovery at st
10 Sebastian Joly (Fra) Fdjeux.com at 6sec
11 David Millar (GBr) Saunier Duval-Prodir at st.