Gilbert wins Stage 1 of Tour de France

July 2, 2011 at 1:27 PM

LES HERBIERS, France, July 2 (UPI) -- The Tour de France kicked off Saturday with Belgium's Philippe Gilbert capturing the first stage of the cross-country cycling race.

Gilbert, one of the pre-race favorites, lived up to his billing with a time of 4 hours, 41 minutes, 31 seconds in the 118.9-mile dash from Passage du Gois to Mont des Alouettes.

Cadel Evans of Australia crossed the finish line 3 seconds behind Gilbert and 3 seconds ahead of Norwegian Thor Hushovd.

Defending champion Alberto Contador of Spain got caught in traffic after a late crash along the course and finished the day in 82nd place, 1 minute, 20 seconds behind Gilbert.

The race continues Sunday with a 14.2-mile race around the town of Les Essarts. The Tour culminates July 24.

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