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Philippe Gilbert (second from right) finished fourth and is one of three BMC Racing Team riders in the top 10. (©BMC/Tim de Waele.)
Philippe Gilbert (second from right) finished fourth and is one of three BMC Racing Team riders in the top 10. (©BMC/Tim de Waele.)

Tour de France, Stage 1: Gilbert Finishes Fourth

1. July 2012

Philippe Gilbert sprinted to fourth place for the BMC Racing Team Sunday after giving furious chase to a leading trio that escaped on a short climb near the finish of the opening road stage of the Tour de France.

Nervous Day
Gilbert took advantage of the chasing efforts of teammate Cadel Evans, who pulled the peloton along after stage winner Peter Sagan (Liquigas-Cannondale) followed the attack of race leader Fabian Cancellara (Radioshack-Nissan) and Edvald Boasson Hagen (Sky Procycling) caught the pair in the final kilometer. Gilbert said registering his second-best result of the season (after a third place at Flèche Wallonne and fourth on Stage 5 of the Tour of Belgium) capped a nervous day. "At 23 km to go, someone touched my wheel and I thought I was going to crash," he said. "I stayed up, but lost a lot of places. Then I dug deep to come back in the final two kilometers and took some risks in the last descent. It's a bit of a pity because I finally won the bunch sprint, but it wasn't for the win."

Van Garderen Still Best Young Rider
BMC Racing Team's Tejay van Garderen held onto the "best young rider" jersey by finishing 21st, one spot behind Evans, but in the same time as the stage winner. He remains fourth overall, 10 seconds behind Cancellara, while Gilbert climbed to seventh, 13 seconds off the lead. Evans is eight, at 17 seconds. Van Garderen said he, too, was fortunate not to be caught up in several small pile-ups that occurred in the final 25 kilometers – one of them caused by a spectator videotaping in the road. "The last 60 kilometers or so it got pretty hectic," van Garderen said. "Our mindset was to be at the front, stay together and try to stay out of trouble. Sometimes sticking your head in the wind a little bit is easier and safer than to try to behind behind the bunch."

Evans: Team Is Working Well
Evans himself stayed out of danger on the 198 km stage with help from Marcus Burghardt and later, 17-time Tour de France participant George Hincapie, who towed him up to fifth wheel as the climb began three kilometers from the finish. "Marcus took me along on the last flat section there to the bridge," Evans said. "We were doing 74 kilometers an hour just to move up on the flat." The defending Tour de France champion said the team had information that the wind might have been favorable to split the race near the end, which is why the BMC Racing Team took to the front as the pack closed in on a six-man breakaway that had been away nearly the entire stage. "As it was it was, it was a headwind, which makes it easy for everyone to stay on your wheel," he said. "But the team is working well and functioning well and I'm glad to get one road stage done and the routine going."