Alberto Contador (Astana) wasted no time today, scorching the first stage of Paris-Nice by taking the 9.3-kilometer time trial in the city of Amilly. He beat Olympic track champion Bradley Wiggins (Garmin) by seven seconds and Spanish TT champ Luis Leon Sanchez (Caisse d'Epargne) by nine.
The pouring rain and heavy winds made it tricky for the riders today; Contador said he "did not take extreme risks in the corners" because of the weather. Some favorites crashed on the wet roads and lost time, such as Saxobank's Gustav Larsson, who was holding the second best time-split on the road until he went down.
Today's opening stage shows that Contador has every intention of winning this race. He's clearly in top all-around condition, especially considering his lean, climber's build would normally not be suited to a short, fast, and flat time trial.
He starts tomorrow's stage two in the yellow jersey, but may wish to relinquish it to the sprinters' teams for the next couple of days so his powerhouse team is ready to set the pace in the high mountains later in the week.