Damien Gaudin took a surprise win as Paris-Nice got under way
Damien Gaudin took a surprise victory in the prologue at Paris-Nice to move into an early race lead.
Last Updated: 04/03/13 10:20am
The Frenchman (Europcar) delighted the home crown on day one of the 'Race to the Sun' with a spectacular time of three minutes and 37 seconds on the 2.9-kilometre course in Houilles.
Gaudin was able to edge out compatriot Sylvain Chavanel (Omega Pharma - Quick-Step) by just over a second after the French time trial champion appeared to have set a winning time.
Third on the course went to last year's runner-up Lieuwe Westra, the Dutchman (Vacansoleil-DCM) just fractions slower again on a day where 57 riders found themselves within 10 seconds of the winning time.
Also in that general classification mix was Team Sky's Richie Porte, the Tasmanian being handed leadership for the prestigious stage race and ended the opening blast nine seconds back, with a time good enough for 39th overall.
A tight and technical circuit made up of 11 corners caused the leading contenders to weigh up the risk and reward of pushing hard early on.
The early best time was shared as Borut Bozic (Astana) and Peter Velits (Omega Pharma - Quick-Step) produced a 3:40, a time which stood firm until Geoffrey Soupe (FDJ) shaved a second off the benchmark.
Wilco Kelderman (Blanco Cycling) was the next to move things on as he went six tenths quicker than Soupe and would end the day fourth fastest.
As the day wore on Chavanel was looking set to take the lead, only for Gaudin to emerge moments later to snatch the glory and become the first recipient of a yellow jersey in 2013.
Prologue result / general classification
1 Damien Gaudin (Fra) Europcar, 3:37
2 Sylvain Chavanel (Fra) Omega Pharma - Quick-Step, +1sec
3 Lieuwe Westra (Ned) Vacansoleil-DCM, same time
4 Wilco Kelderman (Ned) Blanco, +2
5 Geoffrey Soupe (Fra) FDJ, st
6 Peter Velits (Svk) Omega Pharma - Quick-Step, +3
7 Tony Gallopin (Fra) RadioShack - Leopard, st
8 Borut Bozic (Slo) Astana, st
9 Sebastien Turgot (Fra) Europcar, +4
10 Andriy Grivko (Ukr) Astana, +5