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"I definitely prefer longer time trials, and longer efforts are what I’ve spent time training for - to be good in the mountains. This intense effort was different from that but a good lung opener ahead of what’s to come."

Photo: Sirotti

CHRIS FROOME

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GERAINT THOMAS

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NICOLAS ROCHE

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RICHIE PORTE

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TEAM SKY

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TOUR DE FRANCE

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04.07.2015 @ 21:18 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Chris Froome put time into two of his three main rivals as the 2015 Tour de France got underway in glorious conditions in Utrecht.

 

Froome was the fourth last rider to roll down the start ramp and gave everything he had as he powered around the flat but technical 13.8km course.

 

The 2013 race winner stopped the clock with a time of 15 minutes and 46 seconds, which proved good enough for 39th place on the stage, but more importantly, was faster than both Alberto Contador and Nairo Quintana.

 

Contador (Tinkoff Saxo) ended the day eight seconds down on Froome in 46th position, with Quintana (Movistar) a further three seconds adrift in 57th. Defending champion Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) was the only one of the heralded ‘Big Four’ to go faster than Froome, clocking a time seven seconds quicker than the British rider.

 

It was Geraint Thomas who proved Team Sky’s highest-ranked finisher, with the Welshman’s time of 15min 29sec proving good enough for 12th on the stage.

 

Interviewed immediately after, Thomas revealed he actually hadn’t felt that strong during his ride, and said: “I gave it 100% but didn’t feel good at all – I didn’t feel like I had it in my legs, for whatever reason.

 

“Those last five kilometres were a complete grind and I was dying all the time, counting down the distance, and trying to keep myself going. It wasn’t a nice TT at all.”

 

The day belonged to Rohan Dennis, who was the 38th of the 198 riders to begin his run. The BMC rider produced an incredible ride, and his average speed of  54.446kph was the fastest-ever time trial performance in the Tour’s 112-year history.

 

With no one able to beat it, Dennis became the seventh Australian rider to pull on the iconic yellow jersey, and opened up a five-second advantage over Tony Martin (Etixx – Quick-Step) at the top of the overall standings, with Fabian Cancellara (Trek Factory Racing) a further second behind in third. 

 

“That was pretty tough out there for such a short course," Froome said. "I’m happy to have got this first stage out of the way and all the main contenders are in the same ballpark. When you compare my rivals, I’d have taken being positioned between [Vincenzo] Nibali and [Alberto] Contador if you’d have offered me that at the start of the day. There’s not much in it at the moment and I’m pretty happy with that.

 

“As for the course, the early starters may have had a slight advantage as it sounds like the wind picked up a little bit towards the end. I definitely prefer longer time trials, and longer efforts are what I’ve spent time training for – to be good in the mountains. This intense effort was different from that but a good lung opener ahead of what’s to come.

 

“It was hot. Everyone was feeling the heat but I’d much rather it was like that than the other way, with it being very cold.

 

“We haven’t talked much about tomorrow yet, we’ve been focusing on today. We’ll go through the route for stage two this evening. I know I have a team that can look after me and we’ll aim to use them in the right way.”

 

 

“It was so hot out there and that it made it pretty horrible to ride in, but it’s nice to be able to get the Tour started – that’s the only positive I can really take out of today," Richie Porte said.

 

“Chris rode well. He’s in top form and mentally he’s one of the hardest riders around – definitely one of the best there is. I wouldn’t want to be racing him this year, he’s so motivated.”

 

 

“It was a really good experience, and nice to be able to start with a prologue to ease my way into it," Luke Rowe said. "For me, today was just about getting through it and doing enough to open up my legs for tomorrow. The crowds were really impressive – I had my radio on as loud as it would go but there was a wall of noise and I struggled to hear it.

 

“I’m focusing on tomorrow now. If there’s any wind at all it’s going to be messy. We’ve known that for months though – as soon as the route was decided – and it’s going to be a fight. With the team we’ve got here though I’m sure we can do a good job.”

 

 

“It was a fantastic crowd," Nicolas Roche said. "When I was last in Holland for a Grand Depart in 2010 it was similar to this. The volume goes up a notch for the Dutch riders, but we’ve all had a great welcome.

 

“I’m feeling good. We’ve got eight difficult stages ahead of us and we’re going to have to do a lot of work to make sure Froomey doesn’t get caught out anywhere. It will be stressful tomorrow with the crosswinds, stressful on the Mur de Huy, on then on the cobbles. This first week we have to extra focused, and as well as being physically strong, we have to be tactically good as well.”

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