MIKE Loeser set the pace for the 2012 Tour of Fiji winning the first of the five stages from Lami to Pacific Harbour yesterday.
The German time trial specialist clocked one hour, six minutes and 25 seconds during the 40-kilometre cycle with an average speed of 36 kmph.
Fiji's Christian Carling came so close at second place with a time of 1:09:50 and Brian Hennessey was third in 1:12.25.
A field of eight cyclists started stage one with four more stages to go as the Tour of Fiji circumnavigates Viti Levu for the first time.
Race director and Cycling Fiji president Dom Sansom said this was the fourth Tour of Fiji with the first held in 2009.
"We have been building a 5-day tour around Viti Levu and this year the Fiji Day public holiday on a Wednesday allowed us to start on Fiji Day and finish back in Suva on Sunday," he stated in a press release last night.
"It is a really tough race this year with very long stages from Pacific Harbour to Lautoka on Thursday and Rakiraki to the top of the hill in Colo-i-Suva on Saturday. We already had two cyclists pull out. One retired after a crash."
Stage two continues today from Pacific Harbour to Lautoka while stage three is set for Lautoka to Rakiraki tomorrow and stage four is from Rakiraki to Colo-i-Suva. Stage five is scheduled on Sunday in Suva.
Stage One results: Mike Loeser 1:06:25; Christian Carling 1:09:50; Brioan Hennessey 1:12:25; Jonathan Bower 1:13:42; Tony Weir 1:22:19; Ian Curtis 1:40:37