Schumacher wins Tour Time Trial, Grabs Lead

July 8, 2008 11:43:07 AM PDT
Germany's Stefan Schumacher surged to the overall lead in the Tour de France on Tuesday by winning the first individual time trial of the three-week race. He completed the 18.3 miles in 35 minutes, 44 seconds, ahead of Kim Kirchen of Luxembourg and David Millar of Britain. Time-trial world champion Fabian Cancellara of Switzerland struggled and finished fifth.

"My head is down, but you have to keep your head up when you see things you can do better for the next time trial," Cancellara said. "It wasn't my day today, I think. I couldn't find the rhythm."

Schumacher took the yellow jersey from France's Romain Feillu, who won it Monday. The German most likely will hold the lead for at least for another day. Schumacher is 12 seconds ahead of Millar and Kirchen.

Wednesday's stage favors sprinters and the pack is expected to stay together. The 144-mile route from Cholet to Chateauroux is the race's longest and flattest stage.

"I didn't come to win the Tour," Schumacher said. "My goal was to wear the jersey one day and to win a stage. I reached this goal, so everything else is a bonus."

Millar said "everything went perfect" in his third-place ride.

"I'm really pleased. ... I was at 100 percent," he said.

The big winner Tuesday may have been Australia's Cadel Evans - he finished fourth and his main rivals for the overall title lost time to him. Alejandro Valverde of Spain was 23rd, more than a minute back, with countryman Carlos Sastre another five places and nine seconds behind.

"I gave a lot yesterday, and I was very nervous today," said Feillu, who finished five minutes behind Schumacher. "I didn't have the strength."

In January, German police said they detected amphetamines in Schumacher's blood when he was stopped for drunken driving Oct. 7, six days after he won a bronze medal at the road race world championships.

He was not disciplined by cycling authorities because the use of amphetamines outside competition is not considered a doping offense.

"I was really not proud that I went into the car drunk," he said. "I am a public personality and I also have to be an example for other guys. It wasn't good for me, but I didn't take drugs."

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AP Sports Writer Jerome Pugmire contributed to this report.


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