The 2011 Tour De France got off to an exciting start as Philippe Gilbert pulled away over the final 500 meters to secure the yellow jersey after one day. The first stage was a road stage with a slight uphill climb and as expected, most of the cyclists hung with a fairly sizable pack. Two-time tour runner up Cadel Evans came in second, three seconds back of Gilbert. Strong man Thor Hushovd came in third, six seconds back with a group of 75 other riders.
This large pack at six seconds included Bay Area native Levi Leipheimer and four of his Radio Shack teammates. Fellow Radio Shack teammate Chris Horner, winner of the 2011 Tour of California was part of that group. As discussed in our stage preview, the goal of many riders was to stay with the pack towards the front of the race to avoid accidents.
Defending champion Alberto Contador was not quite so lucky in this strategy as he was caught up in a pair of crashes that left him 1:20 back of Gilbert. The first crash occurred with approximately nine kilometers left after an Astana rider clipped a spectator, causing a pile-up that stopped Contador briefly. That was followed by a second accident inside the final three kilometers. While Contador did not get into any serious trouble, the stops hurt his final time.
Bay Area-based BMC Racing got off to a solid day one start. Second place finisher Cadel Evans is a member of BMC. Additionally, Manuel Quinziato, George Hincapie, and Marcus Burghardt all finished with the pack six seconds back of first. BMC is currently in second place in the team standings behind Omega Pharma.
Leipheimer and Team Radio Shack will take part in a 23 kilometer team time trial on Sunday that will likely see a sizable shakeup at the top of the standings. Coverage starts on VERSUS at 5:00am pacific.
We'll be here for the entire race providing news updates and stage previews and recaps, particularly as they relate to Bay Area cyclist Levi Leipheimer. For more in-depth discussion on the 2011 Tour De France, head over to Podium Cafe. For more general Tour coverage, head over to the SB Nation story stream.