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With the fastest time trial in the history of the race, Dennis won the opening stage of the Tour de France to take the first maillot jaune; Martin was second and Cancellara third while Nibali won the battle of the Fab Four

Photo: Sirotti

FABIAN CANCELLARA

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NEWS

ROHAN DENNIS

RIDER PROFILE
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TONY MARTIN

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TOUR DE FRANCE

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04.07.2015 @ 18:08 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Rohan Dennis (BMC) upset the three big favourites in the opening time trial of the Tour de France when he took the biggest win of his career to claim the first yellow jersey in the race. With the fastest time trial in the history of the race, he stopped the clock in 14.56 to go 5 seconds faster than pre-race favourite Tony Martin (Etixx-QuickStep) and 6 seconds faster than Fabian Cancellara (Trek) while Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) won the battle of the Fabulous Four by gaining 7 seconds on Chris Froome (Sky), 15 seconds on Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo) and 18 seconds on Nairo Quintana (Movistar).

 

Going into the opening time trial of the Tour de France, everybody was talking about the big battle between Tony Martin, Fabian Cancellara and Tom Dumoulin. Rohan Dennis was only mentioned as a strong outsider but the Australian had planned to upset the favourites.

 

One month ago he went to Utrecht to check the course very early in the morning and he has secretly focused on this stage for the entire year. He revealed his meticulous preparation at the pre-race press conference yesterday and was fully ready to go when he rolled down the ramp as an early starter.

 

At the time check he was one second behind surprise leader Jos van Emden (LottoNL-Jumbo) but he did an amazing finale to stop the clock in 14.56 which was a massive 31 seconds faster than the Dutchman’s mark. From there he faced a long wait in the hot seat as all the big favourites were among the late starters.

 

Gradually, it became clear that his time would be hard to beat, especially when it came out that he had done the fastest ride in the history of the Tour. He still held a comfortable lead over van Emden when the first of the big favourites, Dumoulin, hit the course.

 

The local hero was just 1 seconds off the pace at the time check and things were looking good as most riders improved in the second half. However, it became apparent that Dennis had been amazingly strong in the finale as the Giant-Alpecin leader missed out on the win by an 8-second margin.

 

Martin was the pre-race favourite but he was 3 seconds behind Dennis at the time check. Unlike Dumoulin, he was almost able to match the Australian in the second half but in the end he came up five seconds short.

 

As outsiders like Adriano Malori (Movistar) and Matthias Brändle (IAM) had to settle for spots in the lower part of the top 10, Cancellara was the only rider who could potentially challenge Dennis. The Swiss was 2 seconds behind at the time check and at the finish he missed out by six seconds to finish on the podium.

 

While Dennis started to celebrate the win, the fight for the GC was still roaring. Nairo Quintana had been an early started and done a surprisingly good ride with 15.57. As Chris Froome and Alberto Contador both had disappointing rides to finish outside the top 35, the Colombian has to be very pleased with time losses of just 11 seconds and 3 seconds respectively.

 

However, the GC winner was defending champion Vincenzo Nibali who finished 28th and gained 7 seconds on Froome to move into the first position among the favourites. However, Thibaut Pinot (FDJ), Wilco Kelderman, Robert Gesink (LottoNL-Jumbo) and Bauke Mollema (Trek) all did even better to position them firmly near the top of the leaderboard, Kelderman even finishing the stage in 9th.

 

With the win, Dennis also takes the leader’s jersey which he will try to defend tomorrow in the first road stage. It is a completely flat affair but as it is held along the windy coast in the Zeeland province and rain is forecasted, it is going to be a very nervous and treacherous affair.

 

A flat course

For the first time since 2012, the Tour de France started with a time trial. This year’s opener was held on a 13.8km course in the city of Utrecht and was a completely flat, non-technical affair suited to the big specialists.

 

It was a very hot day in the Netherlands when Daniel Teklehaimanot (MTN-Qhubeka) rolled down the ramp as the first rider. The Eritrean stopped the clock in 16.30 to set an early mark but he was quickly beaten by Marcel Wyss (IAM) who was 22 seconds faster.

 

Van Emden takes the lead

Jack Bauer (Cannondale) was the next rider to take the lead with 16.07 but everyone was already waiting for van Emden who has set an amazing split time. The Dutchman stopped the clock in 15.11 to beat the previous leader by a massive 56 seconds.

 

Luke Durbridge (Orica-GreenEDGE) had hoped to take the early lead by he came up short by a massive 31 seconds. Greg Van Avermaet (BMC) had a good ride to slot into third before Imanol Erviti (Movistar) set the fifth best time and Ian Stannard (Sky) slotted into fourth.

 

Best time for Dennis

Sylvain Chavanel (IAM) was disappointed with a time of 15.41 that was only good enough for second and he was quickly beaten by Gesink who did the time trial of his life to slot into second with 15.29. Svein Tuft (Orica-GreeNEDGE) did his best time trial for a while to take third, fractions of a second faster than Chavanel.

 

Everybody was eagerly waiting for Dennis to finish as he had been just 1 seconds behind at the time check but he did an amazing finale to take the lead. Jonathan Castroviejo (Movistar) confirmed his good condition with 15.19 which was good enough for third.

 

Disappointment for Porte

Surprisingly, Richie Porte (Sky) could only manage 9th and he was quickly beaten by Tanel Kangert (Astana) who was slightly faster. Markel Irizar (Trek) pushed both riders one spot down before Wilco Kelderman (LottoNL-Jumbo) delighted the home fans by setting the fourth best time.

 

Rigoberto Uran (Etixx-QuickStep) set the sixth best time to show that he is ready for the challenges while Simon Yates (Orica-GreenEDGE) created a surprise by taking 10th. John Degenkolb (Giant-Alpecin) did even better with 15.41 which was good enough for 8th.

 

Good ride by Pinot

Quintana stopped the clock in 15.57 to slot into 14th before Rein Taaramae (Astana) was the next rider to crack the top 10 with 15.41. Steven Kruijswijk (LottoNL) continued the goo showing by his team by taking 11th.

 

Andriy Grivko (Astana) missed out on the top 15 and instead it was Bob Jungels (Trek) who was next rider to make it into the top 10 with the sixth best time. However, it was Pinot who got all the attention when he stopped the clock in 15.37 to slot into 8th.

 

Dumoulin comes up short

Dylan van Baarle (Cannondale) was the next Dutchman to shine as he set the seventh best time before Michael Rogers (Tinkoff-Saxo) slotted into 19th. However, all eyes were on Dumoulin and Mollema who were two of the big local heroes.

 

Mollema did a fantastic second part to slot into sixth but the home public were left disappointed when Dumoulin had to settle for second. Alex Dowsett (Movistar) could only manage 7th after a good start to the race.

 

Martin misses out

Stephen Cummings (MTN-Qhubeka) was the best Brit as he set the sixth best time but he was quickly beaten by Brändle who slotted into fifth. That didn’t get much attention though as Martin was on the course but he had to settle for second.

 

Malori was disappointed with a seventh place while Lars Boom (Astana) made into 20th. However, it was Cancellara who was expected to challenge but he had to settle for third.

 

Nibali wins the GC battle

The GC riders were now on the course and Andrew Talansky (Cannondale), Rui Costa (Lampre) and Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha) were all far off the pace. Tejay van Garderen did better with 20h while Valverde was 5 seconds faster than teammate Quintana.

 

Contador had a poor day to only gain 3 seconds on the Colombian but Froome had reason to be even more disappointed. Instead, it was Nibali who won the battle as he stopped the clock in 15.39 to take 28th.

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