HONCHAR IN YELLOW AFTER TIME TRIAL
Serhiy Honchar (T-Mobile) pulled on the yellow jersey at the Tour de France on Saturday after storming to victory in the 52km time trial around Rennes
Honchar, or Gontchar -depending on which translation of his Ukraine name you prefer, churned a huge gear to set a time of 1-01-43 and was the only rider to break the 50km/h barrier.
Floyd Landis (Phonak) had to change bikes after nine kilometres due to a broken handlebar but finished second at 1-01, with Sebastian Lang (Gerolsteiner) a surprise third at 1-04. World time trial champion Michael Rogers was fourth at 1-24.
David Millar (Saunier Duval) finished a disappointing 37th in a time of 1-05-17, 3-34 behind Honchar. Bradley Wiggins (Cofidis) was 25 seconds faster than his British rival in a time of 1.04.53.
In the overall standings Honchar now leads Landis by 1-00, with Rogers third at 1-08.
"I've been trying to win a big time trial in a major Tour and now I've finally done it," Honchar said with a smile after pulling on the yellow jersey.
"I got into a good rhythm straight away and felt good. I suffered at the end but kept it together and just had to fight the pain and make it to the finish."
Despite losing team leader Jan Ullrich before the race when he was implicated in the Spanish doping investigation, T-Mobile have now won two stages, have Honchar in yellow, Patrick Sinkewitz fifth at 1-45 and Andreas Kloden sixth at 1-50. They will have lots of tactical options when the Tour heads into the Pyrenees on Wednesday.
"It's a difficult moment for T-Mobile but this is a good win and our second of the race, which is good form moral," Honchar said.
"I've got the yellow jersey but we'll take things day by day. I don't know how long I can keep it."
Apart form Landis all the American riders under performed. Levi Leipheimer (Gerolsteiner) lost five minutes and has blown any chance of overall victory, while George Hincapie (Discovery Channel) was disappointing and finished more than two and a half minutes slower than Honchar.
Dave Zabriksie (CSC) was favourite to win the stage but he finished with a time of 1-03-40, two minutes behind Honchar. Things were worse for team mate Bobby Julich. He crashed on a roundabout and was forced to retire with a suspected fractured right wrist.
1 Serguei Gonchar (Ukr) T-Mobile 52km in 1.01.43.60 (50.54 km/h)
2 Floyd Landis (USA) Phonak 1.00.62
3 Sebastian Lang (Ger) Gerolsteiner 1.04.27
4 Michael Rogers (Aus) T-Mobile 1.23.87
5 Gustav Larsson (Swe) Francaise Des Jeux 1.33.48
6 Patrik Sinkewitz (Ger) T-Mobile 1.38.65
7 Marcus Fothen (Ger) Gerolsteiner 1.41.77
8 Andreas Klöden (Ger) T-Mobile 1.43.26
9 Denis Menchov (Rus) Rabobank 1.43.90
10 Joost Posthuma (Ned) Rabobank 1.44.41
Overall standings after stage 7
1 Serguei Gonchar (Ukr) T-Mobile 30.23.20
2 Floyd Landis (USA) Phonak 1.00
3 Michael Rogers (Aus) T-Mobile 1.08
4 Patrik Sinkewitz (Ger) T-Mobile 1.45
5 Marcus Fothen (Ger) Gerolsteiner 1.50
6 Andreas Klöden (Ger) T-Mobile
7 Vladimir Karpets (Rus) Caisse d'Epargne 1.52
8 Cadel Evans (Aus) Davitamon-Lotto
9 Denis Menchov (Rus) Rabobank 2.00
10 David Zabriskie (USA) Team CSC 2.02