David Millar and Geraint Thomas put Great Britain in the thick of the action at the Tour de France Prologue in Rotterdam. Though just off the pace of winner Fabian Cancellara, The two placed third and fifth respectively.
Thomas was the only rider to get near the time of early leader Tony Martin until the first Millar, and then the race favourites came along. Thomas stopped the clock at 10 minutes 23 seconds, just 13 seconds off of the German.
Millar was the first to bump Thomas down the order, then Lance Armstrong and finally prologue winner Fabian Cancellara. It puts Thomas in exulted company for the first road stages and is encouraging for the Welshman who hopes to return one day and mimic Cancellara’s performance – win the time trial and take the yellow jersey.
“It’s not bad, is it? I think I paced it pretty well. I didn’t feel great, but it was just a hard course. These distances suit me. Clearly, from the track I am good over four kilometres, but anything between four and 10 kilometres is ideal,” said Thomas.
“It is all good practice, I keep learning all the time. When I set down with Dan Hunt, Matt Parker and the directors, we will just pick it apart to see what I can learn from it and what I can take from it.”
Thomas and Sky team-mate Wiggins went off early hoping to avoid the rain and get an advantage on their rivals. Thomas must have wondered what could have been, given Martin rode in lighter rain and Cancellara faced a near-dry course.
“You decide and then you have no control over the rain. It could have rained later as well, that’s just bike racing and the risks. We decided to go early.”
Garmin-Transitions’ Millar was one of the late starters, though the course was still drying when he finished with a time of 10 minutes 20 seconds.
“I think we all had the same conditions, it rained nearly the whole day. Perhaps it was better for the first 15 riders, because that is just when it started to dry, before it rained again,” said Millar.
“I could have gone faster in the corners, it wasn’t as all slippery. It was fine out there. I felt fast, I can’t ask for more than that.”
Millar’s third is a step up from the beginning of May, when he placed seventh in Giro d’Italia’s opener. He said that today’s was much less technical than the Amsterdam city circuit that Wiggins won.
“This was like a velodrome in comparison. It was not dangerous at all.”
The green points jersey waits for Millar tomorrow morning since Cancellara will be in yellow and Martin will be in white for the best young rider. And Thomas? He will race in his British Champion’s road jersey for the first time.
“The jersey looks pretty pimp,” added Thomas, “and there is a nice matching helmet to keep it gangster.”
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Tour de France 2010: Stage reports
Prologue: Cancellara pips Martin to win
Tour de France 2010: Photos
Prologue photo gallery
Tour de France 2010: Race guide
Tour de France 2010: Cycling Weekly’s coverage index
Official start list, with race numbers
Brits at the Tour 2010
Tout team guide
Tour jerseys: What they are and what they mean
Brits in the Tours: From Robinson to Wiggins