Wiggins remains 2nd after stage one of Tour de France

Bradley Wiggins on his bike.
A job well done: Bradley Wiggins remains 2nd after Stage One Photo: PA

Chorley's Bradley Wiggins successfully negotiated the first stage of the Tour de France to remain second behind overall leader Fabian Cancellara.

Team Sky principal Dave Brailsford declared mission accomplished as Wiggins finished 16th on today's 198-kilometres undulating loop through the Ardennes region of Belgium around Liege with the same time as rising star Peter Sagan of Slovakia, who claimed victory on his Tour debut.

Stage One of the Tour de France saw the riders travel through Belgium
Stage One of the Tour de France saw the riders travel through Belgium Credit: PA
Mark Cavendish
The Isle of Man's Mark Cavendish won the Green Jersey in 2011 Credit: PA

Defending champion Cadel Evans (BMC Racing) was 20th to remain 17 seconds behind Cancellara and 10 adrift of Wiggins.

"It was a good effort," Brailsford said. "All in all it was important that Brad didn't lose any time."

Wiggins and his Team Sky colleagues were prominent at the front of the peloton throughout the day, but dropped back on a wide expanse of road by the river Meuse as the route returned towards Liege before moving through the bunch on the final 2.4km ascent to the finish.

"He was quite confident," Brailsford added.

"We'd had a look that on the climb he could cruise up. It was easier to move up on a climb than it was on the flat.

"He just waited for that and moved up very easily on the climb."

Wiggins has lost time on short, sharp ascents in the past, but was buoyed by wins in the Paris-Nice, Tour de Romandie and Criterium du Dauphine stage races this season.

Brailsford added: "As everybody was going full gas up there he was riding up the outside making up 10, 15, 20 places.

"He was comfortable. I don't think that's still the case any more."

The Isle of Man's Mark Cavendish won the green jersey in 2011 but was beaten by former HTC_Highroad team-mate Matt Goss today and claimed eight points.

The Manx Missle had support from Boasson Hagen and it was an indication that he is not yet willing to give up the maillot vert without a fight.

But Brailsford admitted intermediate sprints are not key on the agenda for Team Sky and Cavendish, who is prioritising the Olympic Games road race on July 28, six days after the Tour reaches Paris.

Brailsford added: "If you're there yes, you've got to compete for it, but I don't think any of the top guys will be thinking that's an absolute priority once you've got six or seven guys up the road."