New Zealand’s Greg Henderson (Team Sky) survived a crash-strewn first stage of Paris-Nice on Monday to take the sprint win ahead of Lampre’s Grega Bole and Saur Sojasun’s Jeremy Galland.
Prologue winner Lars Boom finished with the front group and will retain his leader’s jersey, increasing his gap over second-placed Jens Voigt by winning two bonus seconds at intermediate sprints.
Overall race favorite Alberto Contador crashed with less than 3 kilometers to go and quickly got up to finish. He was credited with a time 17 seconds behind Henderson, leaving him in eighth place overall.
Americans Levi Leipheimer and Chris Horner also crashed, with about 44km to go. Leipheimer lost about 17 seconds at the finish line, and is now tied on the GC time with Contador. Horner came in more than seven minutes behind the winner, but appeared to have no serious injuries.
The windy 201.5km race from Saint Arnoult en Yvelines to Contres rolled over some narrow, twisty roads in its final kilometers, perhaps contributing to the number of crashes.
Top ten for the stage:
1. Henderson Greg (NZL) Team Sky in 4:22:17
2. Bole Grega (SLO) Lampre-N.G.C, s.t.
3. Galland Jérémie (FRA) , s.t.
4. Kolobnev Alexandr (RUS) Team Katusha, s.t.
5. Belmonte Alejandro Valverde (ESP) Caisse D’epargne, s.t.
6. Roche Nicolas (IRL) Ag2r La Mondiale, s.t.
7. Voigt Jens (GER) Team Saxo Bank, s.t.
8. Marcato Marco (ITA) Vacansoleil Pro Cycling Team, s.t.
9. Martin Tony (GER) HTC – Columbia, s.t.
10. Kreuziger Roman (CZE) Liquigas Doimo, s.t.
Top Ten GC:
1. Lars BOOM (Netherlands) Rabobank
2. Jens VOIGT (Germany) Team Saxo Bank, at 0:05
3. David MILLAR (Great Britain) Garmin-Transitions, at 0:13
4. Luis Leon SANCHEZ GIL (Spain) Caisse D’epargne, at 0:14
5. Roman KREUZIGER (Czech Republic) Liquigas Doimo, at 0:15
6. Greg HENDERSON (New Zealand) Team Sky, at 0:20
7. Levi LEIPHEIMER (United States) Team RadioShack, at 0:25
8. Alberto CONTADOR VELASCO (Spain) Astana, at 0:25
9. Peter SAGAN (Slovakia) Liquigas Doimo, at 0:29
10. Xavier TONDO VOLPINI (Spain) Cervelo TestTeam, at 0:29