Gilbert takes first stage in Tour

The Belgian Philippe Gilbert won Saturday's first stage of the Tour de France to take the yellow jersey -- as defending champion Alberto Contador lost more than a minute because of a late crash. The Belgian rider, who dazzled fans by winning three classics races in April, sped ahead from the pack in the final several hundred meters (yards) and kissed his jersey as he crossed the line.

"It was the last 500 meters, I had a lead ... (and) I went for it," Gilbert said. "It was an extreme effort and I was able to take advantage."

Two-time Tour runner-up Cadel Evans of Australia was second, and Norway's Thor Hushovd was third.

The first stage of the 98th edition of cycling's most prestigious race took the 198-rider pack over 191.5 kilometers (119 miles) from La Barre-de-Monts to Mont des Alouettes in the western Vendee region.