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Belgian Lampaert wins Tour de France opener in Copenhagen rain

Belgian Yves Lampaert won the first stage of the Tour de France on Friday, gate-crashing the opening day individual time-trial as crowds defied the rain along the 13.2km route in downtown Copenhagen.

Quick-Step rider Lampaert suffered less from the rain with his later start than the pre-race favourites, finishing five seconds ahead of compatriot Wout van Aert, with defending champion Tadej Pogacar third best seven seconds off the pace.

Lampaert was overwhelmed with emotion when he realised he will wear the overall leader’s yellow jersey on Saturday’s second stage.

“I was hoping for a top ten, but not this,” said the 2021 Belgian time-trial champion. “I beat the big guys.”

Dutch powerhouse Mathieu van der Poel set the early pace when the rain was at its heaviest, but could not survive the passing of the big guns.

His face creased in pain from the relentless effort and stress of the rain slick-road van Aert took the lead ahead of his arch-rival world champion Filippo Ganna, who suffered a puncture along the way.

Slovenian Pogacar then threw down the gauntlet to his title rivals cruising through the puddles, the 23-year-old all-rounder sprinted out of every corner in an expert ride.

Britsh hope Adam Yates was a picture of grim determination at the start gate but after producing a top drawer chrono, finished 23sec off the winner.

After a week of sweltering sun with Danes flocking to their beach lidos, rain began to fall on Copenhagen an hour ahead of the race.

But Danes enjoy an outdoor lifestyle and were almost uniformly equipped with colourful ponchos, producing a party atmosphere.

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