LIEGE, Belgium (AFP) –
Dutchman Tom Veelers of the Argos-Shimano team got the 99th edition of the Tour de France under way Saturday when he started first from the 198-strong peloton in the prologue.
The prologue is a 6.4 km time trial around Liege with the fastest rider being rewarded with the race leader’s yellow jersey which he will wear into Sunday’s opening stage over 198 km from Liege to Seraing.
Switzerland’s Fabian Cancellara (RadioShack) is hoping for a repeat of his yellow jersey prologue feat in 2004, but will not start his short but intense effort until 1716 local time.
Reigning Tour de France champion Cadel Evans of Australia, of BMC, is the last off the start ramp at 1717.
Among Cancellara’s biggest challengers, at least on paper, is Germany’s Tony Martin (Omega-Pharma), Britain’s Bradley Wiggins (Sky) and Liquigas rider Peter Sagan of Slovakia.