Danilo Napolitano (Team Katusha) won the opening 157-kilometre road stage of the Tour of Luxembourg on Thursday. The Italian out-sprinted Steven Caethoven (Agritubel) and Tom Veelers (Skil-Shimano) in the bunch gallop to the finish in Mondorf-les-Bains.
"It was a nervous and very fast stage," said Napolitano. "Astana kept the pace high to catch the escapees. In the sprint my teammates Horrach, Markov and Mikhailov brought me to the front and then I took the wheel of CSF Group-Navigare's Dall’Antonia. He started his sprint at 200 metres to go which may have been a little bit early because of the headwind."
Switzerland's Grégory Rast (Astana), who won Wednesday's prologue, remained in the race lead by two seconds over Jonathan Hivert (Skil-Shimano) and four seconds ahead of Romain Feillu (Agritubel).
After only 25 kilometres of racing five riders formed the race-long break. Sébastien Turgot (BBox Bouygues Telecom), Alexandre Usov (Cofidis, Le Credit En Ligne), Amets Txurruka (Euskatel-Euskadi), Nicolas Jalabert (Agritubel) and Silvere Ackermann (Vorarlberg-Corratec) attacked and would attain a maximum advantage of five minutes over the peloton. When the Astana-led peloton cut their margin to under two minutes, Jalabert attacked the leading group and stayed away until 10 kilometres remaining in the stage.
The teams of the sprinters then kept the race together until the finish line for their field sprint to decide stage honours.