Brailsford hails Wiggins efforts

01 July 2012 / 18:32

Bradley Wiggins has successfully negotiated the first stage of the Tour de France in a frantic and pulsating finish in Seraing.

Team Sky principal Dave Brailsford declared mission accomplished as Wiggins finished 16th on Sunday's 198-kilometres undulating loop through the Ardennes region of Belgium around Liege with the same time as rising star Peter Sagan of Slovakia, who claimed victory on his Tour debut.

"It was a good effort," Brailsford said. "All in all it was important that Brad didn't lose any time."

Wiggins remained second overall behind race leader Fabian Cancellara (RadioShack-Nissan), who was second on Sunday, with Edvald Boasson Hagen (Team Sky) third. Defending champion Cadel Evans (BMC Racing) was 20th to remain 17 seconds behind Cancellara and 10 adrift of Wiggins.

Wiggins was wearing the green jersey on behalf of Cancellara, who was in the yellow jersey, and all nine Team Sky riders were wearing yellow helmets as leaders of the team classification following the opening prologue. Sagan will wear the maillot vert on Monday as he is second behind Cancellara in the points competition.

Wiggins and his Team Sky colleagues were prominent at the front of the peloton throughout the day, but dropped back on a wide expanse of road by the river Meuse as the route returned towards Liege before moving through the bunch on the final 2.4km ascent to the finish.

"He was quite confident," Brailsford added. "We'd had a look that on the climb he could cruise up. It was easier to move up on a climb than it was on the flat. He just waited for that and moved up very easily on the climb."

After the day's early six-man break was swallowed up Cancellara attacked a third of the way up the final climb and it seemed only Sagan (Liquigas-Cannondale) could go with him. Boasson Hagen bridged the gap and the trio were clear with 500m to go, but Sagan powered away to claim a first Tour stage win of his career.

Yohann Gene (Europcar) led the six-man escape, which began from the moment the peloton left the neutralised zone, at the intermediate sprint to collect 20 points. Two minutes 35 seconds behind them, the peloton crossed, with world champion Mark Cavendish contesting the sprint.

Cavendish (Team Sky) was beaten by former HTC-Highroad team-mate Matt Goss (Orica-GreenEdge) and claimed eight points. It was an eventful day for Team Sky, with Michael Rogers involved in the first of two crashes in the peloton, with a second caused by an amateur photographer. Neither caused any significant problem.