WILMINGTON, DEL. — WILMINGTON, Del. -- Jelle Nijdam isn't silly enough to take his win in the prologue of the Tour Du Pont cycling event last night and make something grand out of it.
Nijdam is, after all, a specialist in these kinds of races, the sprints that determine seeding for the first stage of the main event.
In that sense, Nijdam, 29, is the Brady Anderson of the WordPerfect team, and it's his job to smooth the way for the team's heavy hitter, Raul Alcala of Monterrey, Mexico.
So, even though Nijdam was the only participant in the 118-man field to ride the 2.98-mile course in less than 6 minutes (5:55:07) and the fact that the last three prologue winners have gone on to win it all, the native of Zundert, Holland has no pretensions about what will happen.
"Raul will wear the yellow jersey [worn by the leader] at the end. I will not win the Tour Du Pont. I'm sure about that. Big hills are coming," said Nijdam.
Perhaps Nijdam, who won two stages of the Tour de France, won't even be leading when the first two stages of the Tour Du Pont are over tonight, but he will always have the memory of
yesterday, when he rode a nearly flawless race.
Alcala -- one of 11 racers to smash the record of 6:18:18 set by last year's overall champion, Greg LeMond, over the same prologue course -- had turned in a sparkling time of 6:05:95.
Alcala, who nearly was late getting to the starting ramp because hiswatch was five minutes slow, was fielding questions from reporters about his time when Nijdam roared across the finish line with a time 10 seconds faster.
Granted, yesterday's nearly perfect weather conditions made the course a bit easier than last year, when LeMond battled mist, rain and 50-degree temperatures, but Nijdam's effort was impressive.
"He [Nijdam] has a lot of power. He is a specialist in the prologue," said Alcala, who won the event in 1990 when it was called the Tour de Trump.
Lance Armstrong, whose 6:07:03 was the fastest American time, placed third and said of Nijdam's time, "I'm not surprised who it came from, but to be 10 seconds ahead of Raul was a shock. In the big picture, I'm not sure that he will be there, but I don't think anyone is surprised that he won."
Alcala remains the favorite heading into today's stages: a mid-morning, 56-mile ride from Dover to Wilmington and the evening's team time trials, where each seven-member squad races the clock, with the time of the fifth-place rider applied to every individual on the team.
With Alcala and Nijdam taking the top two spots, their Utah-based WordPerfect team would seem to have an advantage.
But Armstrong's Motorola team, which placed three other riders in the top 11, the Chevrolet-L.A. Sheriff's team, which took the third and fourth spots, and the Coors Light team, with three riders in the top 10, should contend.
Armstrong said, "WordPerfect's got an edge, but I hope Motorola will be there and Chevrolet and Coors Light are certainly capable. It should be interesting."