Honchar wins Tour de France time trial, takes race lead

Serhiy Honchar became the first Ukrainian to take the Tour de France leader's yellow jersey Saturday, dominating the field in the first long time trial of this year's race.

The T-Mobile rider, a former world time trial champion, was by far the strongest in the race against the clock, beating American Floyd Landis in the seventh stage by more than a minute. Sebastian Lang from Germany was third.

After a week of mostly flat stages that favored sprinters, the first long individual time trial of the Tour was expected to give an indication of the overall race favorites.

The shakeout didn't end up exactly that way, though many anticipated favorites ranked in the top 20 in the overall standings after the stage.

The biggest surprise was the performance of the T-Mobile squad despite losing its leader Jan Ullrich in connection with a doping scandal and the relatively lackluster stage of the top Americans, except for Landis.

Honchar was timed at 1 hour, 1 minute, 43 seconds over 52 kilometers (32 miles) from Saint-Gregoire to Rennes at an average speed of 50.55 kilometers an hour (31.41 miles an hour). The stage win was Honchar's first in three Tours. He has won five time trials at the Tour of Italy.

Landis, of the Phonak team, was 1 minute, 1 second behind Honchar, and moved to second in the overall standings. Lang was a further three seconds back, and was 15th overall.

Australian world time trial champion Michael Rogers of T-Mobile finished fourth and climbed to third overall. Teammate Andreas Kloeden who was runner-up to American star Lance Armstrong in the 2004 Tour finished sixth and was eighth overall.

Honchar, who turned 36 last week, grabbed the front of the yellow jersey in delight after it was slipped onto his shoulders on the podium. He said it was the best day of his career since he won the world time trial title in 2000, reports AP.

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