Belgian Surprises in Tour de France; American LeMond is Eighth Overall
Rudy Matthijs of Belgium was the surprise winner Saturday of the first stage of the 72nd annual Tour de France bicycle race.
Matthijs finished the 159.7-mile leg in 6 hours 32 minutes 52 seconds, just ahead of countryman Eric Vanderaerden. The latter was also second in Friday’s four-mile prologue and established himself as the overall leader.
Sean Kelly of Ireland was third Saturday, Guido Bontempi of Italy fourth and Francis Castaing of France fifth.
The top American finisher, Greg LeMond, was 30 seconds behind Matthijs and in eighth place overall.
Bernard Hinault, the four-time Tour de France winner who was heavily favored to gain a record fifth victory this year, came in 56th.
The Tour continues today with the 150-mile second stage from Lorient to Vitre.
The first leg was held in sunny, warm weather. Saturday’s event was the first of 22 stages in a 2,485-mile test around France that ends July 21 in Paris.
“Everybody around here was looking for Hinault,” Matthijs said, “But it is good that they see there are plenty of others here who have just as good a chance.”