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Swiss rider takes yellow jersey

Rubens Bertogliati celebrates his victory wearing the overall leader's yellow jersey Keystone Archive

Switzerland's Rubens Bertogliati has won the first stage of the Tour de France, taking the leader's yellow jersey from three-time champion Lance Armstrong.

Bertogliati sprinted across the finishing line just ahead of the main pack and finished the 192.5 kilometres stage, which began and ended in Luxembourg’s capital, in four hours, 49 minutes and 16 seconds.

“When there is a chance like this to take, you have to go for it,” Bertogliati told reporters.

With his stunning result, the 23-year-old has now taken the overall lead, ahead of the Frenchman Laurent Jalabert. The American Lance Armstrong, who is the overwhelming favourite to win a fourth straight Tour title, is currently in third place of the overall ranking.

“It’s incredible. I’m very happy and I don’t know what to say,” Bertogliati, who races for the Lampre-Daikin team, said after the race.

Same time

Bertogliati finished in the same time as Armstrong, who began the stage in the yellow jersey after winning Saturday’s prologue in Luxembourg.

However, the Swiss rider had bonus seconds taken off his overall time for placing first, and overtook Armstrong in the race standings.

Bertogliati already impressed the cycling world on Saturday by finishing as the best Swiss rider in the race’s prologue in Luxembourg.

His 19th place in the individual time trial came as a bit of a surprise as the rider from Ticino was expected to play a more peripheral role next to fellow cyclist, Laurent Dufaux, who only came 35th on Saturday.

The 33-year-old Dufaux, who skipped last weekend’s Swiss championships, only finished in 42nd place in Sunday’s race, his fellow rider, Beat Zberg was the 119th rider to cross the finishing line.

Monday’s stage will take the riders on a 181-kilometre course from Luxembourg to Saarbrücken in Germany.

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SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR

SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR