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Safely out of harm's way

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Thor Hushovd (CA)

Thor Hushovd (CA) (Image credit: AFP)
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Robbie McEwen throws for the line.

Robbie McEwen throws for the line. (Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Stuart O'Grady

Stuart O'Grady (Image credit: Giorgio Masnikosa)
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McEwen explains what happened.

McEwen explains what happened. (Image credit: Giorgio Masnikosa)

Blood, sweat and tears and… more blood for Hushovd by John Trevorrow

Powerful overnight leader Norwegian Thor Hushovd's upper arm was deeply sliced by large paper hand only 100 metres from the finish in Strasbourg. The gash was so severe that both he and Spaniard Oscar Friere, who was directly behind him when the incident occurred, were splattered in blood. On crossing the line Hushovd collapsed to the ground and an official had to try and hold the bicep together while blood spurted through his fingers.

Australia's two big hopes for high honours in this tour, Cadel Evans and Michael Rogers, avoided the crash and finished comfortably in the front peloton. Rogers is lying in seventh place at eight seconds after his strong showing in the prologue. Evans is a further seven seconds back.

Aussie sprinters on the hectic finale

In a rough and hectic finale it was popular Frenchman Jimmy Casper who just held off a fast finishing Robbie McEwen to take the 184-km stage.

Stuart O'Grady, who finished a strong seventh, noted that it was ironic that it was a green paper hand from PMU who sponsor the green jersey that did the damage to the overnight leader of that competition, "It is a real problem," O'Grady said. "It's getting to the stage were you hesitate to sprint alongside the barricades in the final 300 metres."

Robbie McEwen, who was unable to find a way through the charging sprinters to the line, said, "It was a hectic sprint and Boonen hit the front a bit early. He just got left there with 350 [metres to go], I was on his wheel and he tried to slow it down and go again and then Casper went and Boonen just died and I had to try and find a way out of there."

McEwen did not get a clear run to the line until the final 60 metres, "Zabel was on Casper's wheel so I had to wait and wait and wait and by the time I could go it was too late. I was coming but there was just not enough road left," a disappointed McEwen said.

Tuesday might be my day - Gerrans

Simon Gerrans (AG2R-Prevoyance) is hopeful that Tuesday's hilly stage could suit his style, "Tomorrow is going to be pretty straightforward, much like today, but the day after there a few hills towards the finish and there could be a few breakaways. I might try to get into that," he said.

Gerrans was glad that the real racing had started at last, "It's just good to get that first stage out of the way. It's good to get the Tour going actually, those few days before the Tour hanging around the hotel drag a bit,

"It wasn't too bad actually, a bit nervous being the first day. Once the break got clear, Credit Agricole started riding just about straight away. Rode with tempo, never let the break get too far away, then the sprinters' teams took over," he said.

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