Tour de France 2017 : Stage 1 – Sky quickest off the mark

Stage 1 of the 2017 Tour de France threw up – and threw down – some surprises, the biggest surprise being local hero and world time trial champion Tony Martin (Katusha) could not best Sky’s Geraint Thomas in the 14km individual time trial and missed the opportunity to wear the first yellow jersey in Dusseldorf. He finished fourth, with Stefan Küng (BMC) and Vasili Kiryienka (Sky) taking second and third respectively. But that probably wasn’t the only surprise …

Rider of the Race

Time trials are always difficult to write up because, basically, guys ride fast by themselves and one wins and that’s about it. There aren’t necessarily other stories within them that bring forward a rider of the race that is other than the winner. But I’ve found one.

It is no secret that That Boy Phinney is one of my favourites – not least for the grace and humility he displayed while on his road to recovery of that terrible crash in the US nat champs a few years ago. And today was his first start in a Tour de France. On a course that Panache would describe as ‘slicker than deer guts on a doorknob’, most of the riders took it gingerly around the 14km course. But when we saw Phinney coming into the final kilometre, we could see that he was on a good ride, finishing a respectable 12th, 17secs off the top spot.

Was his ride the most exciting? The one that took the jersey? No. But it was one of the most inspiring for the history behind it. Taylor Phinney, we salute you.

Crazy crash of an afternoon

It was the first time in 30 years that Germany has played host to a Tour de France Grand Depart. While the team presentations went off without a hitch on a beautiful summer’s evening in Dusseldorf, today’s first stage looked like weather more appropriate for a Belgian spring classic. Rain that just wouldn’t quit and most riders went round the route gingerly – Nacer Bouhanni, one of the first out of the starthouse, went so slow there was Twitter-talk of him missing the cut-off time.

Quite a few riders skidded and slid through corners but were able to get up and continue. Alejandro Valverde was not so fortunate. He took a particularly treacherous corner at speed and lost control of his bike, slid hard into the barriers – what looked like head first – and then didn’t get up, although he was awake and moving. I’m not his biggest fan but one thing I do know for sure – you never celebrate a crash, no matter what you think of the rider, and seeing him lying on the ground, in obvious pain, was awful. In Cycling News’s report, Movistar DS Vincente Garci said this:

The biggest problem is his knee cap which seems to be broken and because of the crash against the barrier he also has a deep cut on his leg. There is a lot of blood in there so they had to clean it out before doing the x-ray to see whether he’s broken any other bones.

The other DNF today was Ion Izaguirre from Bahrain-Merida, who crashed at that same corner.

Sky in dominant form

If you’re a Sky fan, you’ll be in seventh heaven after today. All the guys got round the course unscathed and four made it into the top 10, including Geraint Thomas taking yellow and Kiryienka in 3rd. Michal Kwiatkowski finished 8th (looking magnificent in his Constructivist kit) and Chris Froome came in 6th, 12 secs behind Thomas’s time. But more importantly, Froome put in about half a minute or more on his main rivals of Richie Porte (BMC) 49th, Nairo Quintana (Movistar) 53rd, Thibaut Pinot (FDJ) 60th, Romain Bardet (Ag2r) 63rd, and Alberto Contador (Trek-Segafredo) 68th.

If you’re not a Sky fan, you might have had a sinking feeling about all this. Dear God, you might be asking yourself, is this over already? Is Sky going to crush the life out of this race by riding at tempo and on the threshold for three weeks? We can’t think like this – not if we actually want to get something out of this race – but also because this is just stage 1 and, as we saw today, really anything can happen out on the road. Personally, after initially wondering if I should bother taking so much holiday in the final week just to watch a procession, hope sprang eternal. Maybe, just maybe, this will put a fire under the other contenders and the races will be attackity™ at every opportunity.

Results

Top 5 stage 

1 Geraint Thomas (Sky) 16.04

2 Stefan Küng (BMC) +05

3 Vasili Kiryienka (Sky) +07

4 Tony Martin (Katusha-Alpecin) +08

5 Matteo Trentin (QuickStep) +10

Top 5 GC 

1 Geraint Thomas (Sky) 16.04

2 Stefan Küng (BMC) +05

3 Vasili Kiryienka (Sky) +07

4 Tony Martin (Katusha-Alpecin) +08

5 Matteo Trentin (QuickStep) +10

All the jerseys

Leader: Geraint Thomas (Sky)

Points: Geraint Thomas (Sky)

KOM: n/a

Best Young Rider: Stefan Küng (BMC)

Team Classification: Sky

For race reviews, go to CyclingNews; official LeTour website is here

Header image: ©GETTY Images Sport / Chris Graythen

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2 thoughts on “Tour de France 2017 : Stage 1 – Sky quickest off the mark

  1. Pingback: Tour Tweets of the Week: Clips and crashes and all things German | VeloVoices

  2. Pingback: Tour de France 2017 : Final KM stages 1 – 9 | VeloVoices

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