Yves Lampaert wins Tour de France opening time trial; Tadej Pogacar leads GC contenders

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Belgian Yves Lampaert was the surprise winner of the Tour de France’s opening time trial, while two-time defending champion Tadej Pogacar gained seconds on his biggest threats.

Lampaert, 31, earned the biggest victory of his career in Copenhagen. He started after all of the favorites and overtook countryman Wout van Aert by four seconds, crossing the 8.2-mile course in 15 minutes, 17 seconds.

Lampaert could scarcely believe it when he realized he won, wiping away tears and putting his hands on his mouth.

“My mind is exploding,” Lampaert said. “I came with expectation a top-10 would be great. Now I beat all the best riders in the world. I’m just a farmer’s son from Belgium. To do this, I never expect it.”

Pogacar was third, seven seconds behind, followed by world time trial champion Filippo Ganna of Italy.

Pogacar gained eight and nine seconds on Jonas Vingegaard and Primoz Roglic, respectively, his top rivals to claim the Tour title in Paris in three weeks.

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The rain was teeming when Roglic finished under grey skies shortly after 4:30 p.m., and still lashing when Pogacar set off around 40 minutes later. Even though he is a specialist in the wet, Pogacar looked cautious taking the first turn.

It might have cost him victory.

Riders set off to loud cheers.

“There was so much noise you could hardly hear anything in the earpiece,” French rider David Gaudu said.

Large parts of the Danish capital were shut down. The wet roads made the route treacherous — especially the section across the square of Amalienborg Palace, the main residence of Denmark’s royal family, which is paved with cobblestones.

Swiss rider Stefan Bissegger fell off twice, but continued.

The stage went past the city’s other best known landmarks, including the Little Mermaid statue, sitting on her perch at the entrance of the harbor.

Among the thousands of fans, some waving the red-and-white Danish flag, was Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen.

“I grew up with my dad being glued to the television screen to watch Tour de France,” Frederiksen said.

Earlier, Denmark’s Crown Prince Frederik rode the route.

“It is great to see the great support for the Tour at home,” said the 54-year-old Frederik, sporting a helmet, shorts and a T-shirt. The palace also published Instagram vintage photos of Danish royals riding bicycles, including Frederik’s great grandfather, King Christian X and the current Queen Margrethe.

There are two more stages in Denmark this weekend, including crossing the Great Belt Bridge that links the Zealand island, where Copenhagen sits, and the central isle of Funen.

The first start in Denmark — but the 24th time the race has started outside of France — was supposed to be held in 2021 but postponed a year because of the coronavirus pandemic.

After the Danish stages, the riders travel to France with a stage between Dunkirk and Calais.

The race ends in Paris on July 24.

Meanwhile, police have been closely investigating the Bahrain Victorious team and seized more than 450 capsules of unidentified substances at a house in Slovenia during raids across Europe, the European agency Eurojust said Friday.

Riders and staff had their homes raided and the team’s hotel in Denmark was searched this week.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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