Tour de France

Tour de France prologue: photo gallery

The prologue stage of the 2012 Tour de France lived up to all the expectation.

Fabian Cancellara (RadioShack-Nissan-Trek) one of the most popular riders in the sport, returned to his rightful place at the top of the time sheet with an emphatic performance after a crash at the Ronde Van Vlaanderen in April threatened to ruin his season.

Philippe Gilbert kept the home fans happy with a typically gutsy performance and will start tomorrow’s stage from Liege to Seraing among the favourites.

The only disappointment in Liege came as Tony Martin punctured, almost certainly depriving the world time trial champion of a place on the podium and depriving the crowd of a thrilling battle for victory.

Here are some of the key moments of the day, captured through the lens of official UCI WorldTour photographer, Stefano Sirotti.

Sylvain Chavanel finished third, but he was the early pace setter, and his time withstood several challenges

Local hero, Phillipe Gilbert, produced one of the most aggressive rides of the day and finished ninth

Vincenzo Nibali is a fancied outsider for GC. His opening effort has left him only one second behind Evans and 11 seconds behind Wiggins

Wiggins rode a time trial of two halves, hauling back six seconds on Chavanel in the closing three kilometres

The crowds roared on comeback king, Fabian Cancellara, who rode to his first victory since injury derailed his season at the Ronde van Vlaanderen in April


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