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TOUR’15 St.1: Dennis Destroys ‘Em!

Race Report: The 2015 Tour de France is on the road in Utrecht and Australian ex-Hour record holder, Rohan Dennis, gave his BMC team the stage win and the first yellow jersey of this year. He didn’t just win, he set a new Tour time trial record of 55.446 kph.

If the rest of this year’s Tour de France is as exciting as today’s first day, then we are in for a great three weeks to come. The Dutch fans filled the road-side to cheer their men on and Jos Van Emden nearly pulled it off for the home crowd, but Australia’s Rohan Dennis put up a stunning ride to be the only rider to go under 15 minutes for the 13.8 kilometers. Of the overall riders, Vincenzo Nibali is the best placed ahead of Froome, Contador and Quintana. It’s a long way to Paris.

The course
Flat, Dutch style flat. 13.8 kilometers of inner-city streets with nothing more difficult to climb than a canal bridge, in places it is quite technical with some tight bends. The problem is the distance; too short for the TT specialist and too long for the prologue guys. So, much like this year’s Tour de France, it’s wide open.

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The big news of the morning is that Lars Boom will start for Astana even though he has a low cortisol count, under MPCC rules he should be sidelined. The team did not receive the result of his test until after the team names had been given to the race and so under UCI rules he could not be substituted. Under UCI rules he is free to start, whether the Astana team will stay in the MPCC is not known.

And Tour’15 starts
First man off was MTN-Qhubeka’s Daniel Teklehaimanot, he was making history as part of the first African based team to ride the Tour de France. The crowd was massive, reminding us of last year in Yorkshire, the difference is that most of the Dutch fans had ridden to watch, as could be seen by the full bike park on the course.

There is one time check at 7.1 kilometers and Teklehaimanot came through at 7:54. For sure he will be the race leader for a short time. His time of 16:30 put him in the leaders chair, but it didn’t last long as IAM Cycling’s Marcel Wyss pushed him off the top spot. 15:11 was set by Jos Van Emden (LottoNL-Jumbo) which was a great time that stood for a while, much to the surprise of Luke Durbridge (Orica-GreenEDGE) who thought he would be a high finisher, but was 30 seconds down.

Tour de France 2015 - stage 1
Early leader: Jos Van Emden

Sylvain Chavanel (IAM Cycling) looked fast, but his time of 15:41 showed how fast Van Emden had ridden. One of the ex-Hour Record holders in the race; Rohan Dennis (BMC) was also expected to put up a fast time, he came through the intermediate point only 1 second behind Van Emden and at the finish (after catching his minute man), the Australian lodged a time of 14:56 to take over the ‘hot seat’. His time has also set a Tour de France record of 55.446 kph.

Richie Porte (Sky) is the Australian TT champ, but today was not his with a time of 16:02. Dutch champion, Wilco Kelderman (LottoNL-Jumbo) was 30 seconds down at the finish. Spanish National champion, Jonathan Castroviejo (Movistar) faired better and finished 23 seconds down on Dennis to take 3rd place (at this point, 6th in the end), but there were many more riders till to finish.

Nairo Quintana (Movistar) launched himself down the start ramp, but looked nervous and maybe a little unsure of his time trial bike, moving his hands on the bars and shifting his position on the saddle. Another Colombian, Rigoberto Uran (Etixx – Quick-Step) was moving very smoothly and caught his minuteman and returned a time of 15:36, he won’t have lost too much time on the other GC men. At the finish, Quintana time of 15:57 was not great, but not terrible either.

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Nairo Quintana warms up before the TT

Next GC hopeful; Ryder Hesjedal (Cannondale-Garmin), posted a fair time of 16:11, will the tall Canadian have any form after his Giro ride. André Greipel (Lotto Soudal) finished with a very good time (for a sprinter) of 16:07, too much to make up for the yellow jersey.

The French will be happy with the performance of Thibaut Pinot (FDJ.fr), his 15:37 keeps him high on the overall, a good 20 seconds better than Quintana, those 20 seconds could be very important in the high mountains.

The big favorite, for the Dutch fans anyway, Tom Dumoulin (Giant-Alpecin) shot down the ramp to an enormous roar, which must have followed him around the course. He will be hoping to have recovered from his disappointing ride in the Dutch National championships where he missed the podium completely. Dumoulin was punching at the pedals with a steady pace, his body held perfectly still. Dennis was much more ragged in his style. At the time check he was down by 1 second on Dennis.

15:33 for Bauke Mollema (Trek) was very impressive; he caught Pozzato before the line.

Dutch favorite Dumoulin
Meanwhile; Dumoulin was still riding smoothly towards the line, if crowd support is worth anything, today would prove it. Into the last K and Dumoulin had his minuteman (Tiago Michago of Katusha) in sight, but at the finish he was 8 seconds short of the winning time of Dennis.

Tour de France 2015 - stage 1
A dissapointed Tom Dumoulin

British champion and ex-Hour record holder, Alex Dowsett (Movistar) was the next big hitter to arrive at the finish with 15.32, good enough for 13th. Next up; Tony Martin (Etixx – Quick-Step), the German champ smoothly powered his big gear to the intermediate point in a time 3 seconds down on Rohan Dennis, but he can pull out the stops for the final in any time trial.

Another ex-World Hour Record holder: IAM Cycling’s Matthias Brändle finished at 23 seconds for a top ten place and Stephen Cummings (MTN-Qhubeka) took 10th at 32 seconds. A tearful Lars Boom (Astana) rolled down the ramp to a mixed reception, under normal circumstances he would be expected to do a good ride, maybe better than his 23rd place at 44 seconds.

Tour de France 2015 - stage 1
Tony Martin was 5 seconds too late for the stage win, he didn’t think the (high) temperature would have made such a difference

Martin and Cancellara come close
Tony Martin attacked the last bends, but had lost a little more time to finish just over 5 seconds down on the man from BMC. Fabian Cancellara (Trek) would hope to show he is not finished as a rider and the big Swiss TT specialist threw caution to the wind, attacking every corner and came through 1 second slower than Dennis at 7.1 kilometers. At the finish it was close, but Cancellara missed out to slot into 3rd place with 15:02.

Alberto Contador had Chris Froome a minute behind him, these could be the two top men for the final overall, but today is still very important as it is for last years Tour winner, Vincenzo Nibali not far behind them and last man on the road. Froome’s style is not the smoothest, whereas Contador was looking fast, but Contador was 20 seconds down, Froome 17, Valverde at 19 and Nibali was the fastest of the big four at 11 seconds.

At the finish line: Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha) lost 1:26 on Rohan Dennis, not a good start for ‘Purito’. Tejay Van Garderen finished 42 seconds back on his BMC teammate, with Contador at 58 seconds, Valverde at 56, Froome at 50 and Nibali at 43.

Tour de France 2015 - stage 1
Stage winner, yellow, green and white jersey wearer and fastest time trial rider in the Tour dr France, ever: Rohan Dennis

Keep tuned to PEZ for Gordan roadside and everything Tour.

Tour de France Stage 1 Result:
1. Rohan Dennis (Aus) BMC in 14:56
2. Tony Martin (Ger) Etixx – Quick-Step at 0:05
3. Fabian Cancellara (Swi) Trek at 0:06
4. Tom Dumoulin (Ned) Giant-Alpecin at 0:08
5. Jos Van Emden (Ned) LottoNL-Jumbo at 0:15
6. Jonathan Castroviejo (Spa) Movistar at 0:23
7. Matthias Brandle (Aut) IAM Cycling
8. Adriano Malori (Ita) Movistar at 0:29
9. Wilco Kelderman (Ned) LottoNL-Jumbo at 0:30
10. Stephen Cummings (GB) MTN-Qhubeka at 0:32
11. Robert Gesink (Ned) LottoNL-Jumbo at 0:33
12. Geraint Thomas (GB) Sky
13. Alex Dowsett (GB) Movistar at 0:36
14. Bauke Mollema (Ned) Trek at 0:37
15. Bob Jungels (Lux) Trek at 0:38
16. Dylan Van Baarle (Ned) Cannondale-Garmin
17. Rigoberto Uran (Col) Etixx – Quick-Step at 0:40
18. Thibaut Pinot (Fra) FDJ.fr at 0:41
19. Peter Sagan (Svk) Tinkoff-Saxo
20. Tejay Van Garderen (USA) BMC at 0:42
21. Leopold Konig (Cze) Sky at 0:43
22. Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Astana
23. Lars Boom (Ned) Astana at 0:44
24. Daniel Oss (Ita) BMC
25. Svein Tuft (Can) Orica-GreenEDGE at 0:45.

Tour de France Overall After Stage 1:
1. Rohan Dennis (Aus) BMC in 14:56
2. Tony Martin (Ger) Etixx – Quick-Step at 0:05
3. Fabian Cancellara (Swi) Trek at 0:06
4. Tom Dumoulin (Ned) Giant-Alpecin at 0:08
5. Jos Van Emden (Ned) LottoNL-Jumbo at 0:15
6. Jonathan Castroviejo (Spa) Movistar at 0:23
7. Matthias Brandle (Aut) IAM Cycling
8. Adriano Malori (Ita) Movistar at 0:29
9. Wilco Kelderman (Ned) LottoNL-Jumbo at 0:30
10. Stephen Cummings (GB) MTN-Qhubeka at 0:32
11. Robert Gesink (Ned) LottoNL-Jumbo at 0:33
12. Geraint Thomas (GB) Sky
13. Alex Dowsett (GB) Movistar at 0:36
14. Bauke Mollema (Ned) Trek at 0:37
15. Bob Jungels (Lux) Trek at 0:38
16. Dylan Van Baarle (Ned) Cannondale-Garmin
17. Rigoberto Uran (Col) Etixx – Quick-Step at 0:40
18. Thibaut Pinot (Fra) FDJ.fr at 0:41
19. Peter Sagan (Svk) Tinkoff-Saxo
20. Tejay Van Garderen (USA) BMC at 0:42
21. Leopold Konig (Cze) Sky at 0:43
22. Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Astana
23. Lars Boom (Ned) Astana at 0:44
24. Daniel Oss (Ita) BMC
25. Svein Tuft (Can) Orica-GreenEDGE at 0:45.

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