Dennis Wins Stage 1 of Tour de France
Rohan Dennis (BMC) has won Stage 1 of the 2015 Tour de France. The Australian blitzed over the flat, technical, 13.8-km individual time trial course in Utrecht, the Netherlands in 14:56. Dennis was the only rider to break 15 minutes, with Tony Martin (Etixx-Quick Step) taking second at 0:05 and Fabian Cancellara (Trek) finishing third at 0:06. Dennis has taken the race’s first yellow and green jerseys.
Daniel Teklehaimonot (MTN-Qhubeka) was the first starter, but Jos van Emden (LottoNL-Jumbo), the ninth starter, set the early standard. The 2010 Dutch time trial champion posted a 15:11. Dennis, the 38th of 198 starters, trailed van Emden at the midpoint time check, but the former world hour record holder poured on the coal to take the lead and to eclipse Chris Boardman’s record for the fastest average speed in a Tour de France individual time trial. Dennis rode 55.446 km/h to Boardman’s 55.152.
When Dennis took the lead, he figured that he would be there for a long time. How right he was! Although the contenders did not begin their rides until late in the stage, the favorites set out at intervals. They took their shots and came up short. Tom Dumoulin (Giant-Alpecin), who was riding in front of his compatriots, posted an 11:04 and would settle for fourth. Martin, a three-time world time trial champion and a four-time German time trial champion, settled for second. Cancellara, who is no longer the world’s time trial king, finished third.
The heads of state began taking their shots. Nairo Quintana (Movistar), who is a good time trialist but not a great one, finished 57th at 1:01. Thibaut Pinot (FDJ), normally an indifferent time trialist, was 18th at 0:41 and was the best finisher among those expected to finish in the top 10 overall. Chris Froome (Sky) was 39th at 0:50, Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo Bank) came in 46th at 0:58, and Romain Bardet (Ag2r-La Mondiale) was the big loser, finishing 145th at 1:34. Defending champion Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) came in 22nd at 0:43, while Tejay van Garderen (BMC) finished 0:01 and two places ahead of the Italian.
Dennis’s wait to learn if he had won was, in his words, “nerve-wracking.” “It was nerve-wracking watching the screen,” the Aussie said. “I didn’t expect to go that fast timewise. When I got back to the bus, I was told that it was the quickest time trial by my friend in Adelaide. So that was a nice little bonus, you could say.
“We went with the tactic of going off early—there’s no stress, you don’t have to sit around all day—just set a benchmark and make everyone else chase me. It worked out perfectly. Tour de France—yellow jersey—it’s a dream. I have always wished to be in this position, and now I am.”
In the overall, Dennis leads Martin by 0:05 and Cancellara by 0:06. Stage 2 will be a flat, 166-km run from Utrecht to Zeeland. On paper, it is a stage for sprinters, but the wind might intervene and blow the field into echelons. The stage might be decided by a relatively small group. Who will win? Peter Sagan (Tinkoff-Saxo Bank)? Andre Greipel (Lotto-Soudal)? John Degenkolb (Giant-Alpecin)? Alexander Kristoff (Katusha)? Mark Cavendish (Etixx-Quick Step)? Nacer Bouhanni (Cofidis)? Check in at www.roadcycling.com and find out!
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