Hincapie in yellow as Casper takes a long shot; Hushovd injured by spectator in sprint
George Hincapie (Discovery Channel) only had to wait just one day before donning the maillot jaune of race leader in the Tour de France. The tall American picked up 2 bonus seconds in an intermediate sprint - enough to take the lead from Thor Hushovd. Then Jimmy Casper (Cofidis) rode an incredible final 300 metres to hold off Robbie McEwen (Davitamon-Lotto) and Erik Zabel (Milram) to claim the first stage, which ended in a bunch sprint in Strasbourg.
Yesterday's winner Hushovd was looking good for a top three in today's rush to the line, but had his right arm gashed open by an object held by a spectator with 50 metres to go. After the finish, Hushovd collapsed and was taken away in an ambulance.
The stage was dominated by a seven man break that started after only 3 km when Stéphane Augé (Cofidis), Matthieu Sprick (Bouygues Telecom) and Benoît Vaugrenard (Française des Jeux) went clear, and were joined by Nicolas Portal (Caisse d'Epargne), Fabian Wegmann (Gerolsteiner), Unai Etxebarria (Euskaltel) and Walter Bénéteau (Bouygues Telecom). The leaders gained a maximum of five minutes, but the various sprinters teams always had them in check. Bénéteau was the last to be caught at just over 7 km to go, and the expected bunch sprint produced a slightly unexpected winner in Jimmy Casper.