Britain’s Geraint Thomas surged to victory in the opening stage of the Tour de France as the riders endured treacherous conditions in Dusseldorf.
The Team Sky rider, a key lieutenant for fellow Briton and three-time winner Chris Froome, was the fastest around the 14km time trial course.
Winning in a time of 16 minutes four seconds, Thomas was five seconds ahead of Switzerland’s Stefan Kung. Froome pipped all of his general classification rivals, finishing only 12 seconds behind Thomas in sixth place.
“It’s an amazing feeling. I didn’t even think about to be honest. I didn’t believe it was going to happen. I thought Martin is going to beat me or so-and-so is going to beat me,” said Thomas.
Thomas went largely unnoticed until he hit the line, with many focusing on the favourites such as Germany’s Tony Martin. But he failed to deliver in front of the home crowds, finishing in fourth place.
The victory for Thomas caps a huge turnaround in fortunes. In May he abandoned his year’s main goal, the Tour of Italy, after suffering the from the impact of a crash with a police motorbike in the opening week.
“I’ve had my fair share of bad luck this year,” the 32-year-old admitted.
A number of the 189 starters of the race hit the deck as standing water on corners made it easy to slip. The highest profile casualty was Movistar rider Alejandro Valverde who smashed into railings after taking a tumble mid-way through the course.
The Spaniard, riding in support of one of Froome's main rivals Nairo Quintana, was taken to hospital and is out of the race.
“They’re not too slippery if you don’t go too fast you know,” said Thomas.
The first corner I took quite fast.... The rest I was riding within myself. There were a few times I thought maybe I could have gone faster.
Stage and general classification
|Position||Rider (surname, first name)||Team||Time||Gap|
|1||THOMAS GERAINT||TEAM SKY||16' 04''|
|2||KUENG STEFAN||BMC RACING TEAM||16' 09''||00' 05''|
|3||KIRYIENKA VASILI||TEAM SKY||16' 11''||00' 07''|
|4||MARTIN TONY||TEAM KATUSHA ALPECIN||16' 12''||00' 08''|
|5||TRENTIN MATTEO||QUICK - STEP FLOORS||16' 14''||00' 10''|
|6||FROOME CHRISTOPHER||TEAM SKY||16' 16''||00' 12''|
|7||VAN EMDEN JOS||TEAM LOTTO NL - JUMBO||16' 19''||00' 15''|
|8||KWIATKOWSKI MICHAL||TEAM SKY||16' 19''||00' 15''|
|9||KITTEL MARCEL||QUICK - STEP FLOORS||16' 20''||00' 16''|
|10||BOASSON HAGEN EDVALD||TEAM DIMENSION DATA||16' 20''||00' 16''|