Dennis wins Tour de France opener

Published: Saturday 4th July 2015 by The News Editor

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Australian Rohan Dennis claimed the first yellow jersey of the Tour de France as defending champion Vincenzo Nibali stole some potentially vital seconds ahead of his rivals in the race to Paris.

BMC Racing rider Dennis finished in 14 minutes 56 seconds to win from Tony Martin (Etixx-QuickStep) and Fabian Cancellara (Trek), who were five and six seconds behind, respectively.

Dennis’ average speed of 55.45kph was the fastest recorded in a Tour time-trial, despite the technical, twisty 13.8-kilometres course through the centre of Utrecht in Holland.

Italian Nibali (Astana) was the quickest of the four favourites for the overall title, clocking 15mins 39secs.

That was seven seconds quicker than Briton Chris Froome (Team Sky), who finished in 15:46 to place 39th.

Spaniard Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo) conceded 15 seconds to Nibali in finishing in 15:54, while Colombian Nairo Quintana (Movistar) was three seconds further back.

Sunday’s second stage sees the 198 riders embark on the 166km route from Utrecht to Zelande.

A sprint finish is expected, unless cross winds split the peloton, with Mark Cavendish bidding to add to his 25 Tour stage wins.

Dutchman Jos van Emden set the early pace in 15:11 but Dennis swiftly overtook him despite trailing at the 7.1km time-check.

Dennis’ strong second half of the race saw him claim his record-breaking average speed, surpassing the mark set by Chris Boardman 21 years ago.

Home favourite Tom Dumoulin (Giant-Alpecin) was anticipated to challenge Dennis, but trailed at the intermediate time check and finished eight seconds behind in fourth place.

Next to try his luck was multiple world time-trial champion Martin, but, turning a big gear, the German also fell short of Dennis’ mark by five seconds. He later admitted he struggled in the stifling heat.

Cancellara has won an opening time-trial five times at the Tour, but the Swiss also fell short of Dennis’ mark as the Australian triumphed.

Steve Cummings, riding for African squad MTN Qhubeka in its first Tour, was a surprise best Briton, placing 10th, 32secs behind Dennis.

Geraint Thomas (Team Sky) was 12th, a second further back and Alex Dowsett (Movistar) three further seconds behind in 13th.

Published: Saturday 4th July 2015 by The News Editor

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