Tour de France 2017 - stage one: Geraint Thomas produces stunning ride to win time trial and take yellow jersey - Road Cycling UK

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Tour de France 2017 – stage one: Geraint Thomas produces stunning ride to win time trial and take yellow jersey

Welshman wins first Grand Tour stage to take maillot jaune in Dusseldorf

Geraint Thomas (Team Sky) produced the time trial of his career to win the opening stage of the 2017 Tour de France and take the first yellow jersey of the race.

The Welshman defied the weather conditions in Dusseldorf to stop the clock in 16 minutes and four seconds on the 14km course,  with BMC Racing’s Stefan Kung five seconds adrift in second, and Thomas’ Sky team-mate, Vasil Kiryienka, seven seconds back in third. The pre-stage favourite, world champion Tony Martin (Katusha), finished fourth.

Geraint Thomas won the opening stage of the 2017 Tour de France to pull on the yellow jersey (Pic: Sirotti)

Thomas arrived at the Tour de France with a question mark over his form having crashed out of the Giro d’Italia in May and raced only once since, at the Route du Sud in mid-June.

– Yellow jersey: Geraint Thomas becomes eighth Brit to pull on the Tour de France’s maillot jaune –

However, the 31-year-old showed he is not only fit and healthy but in fighting form to secure his first Grand Tour stage win and become the eighth British riders to pull on the maillot jaune.

Thomas defied the conditions to post the fastest time on the 14km course (Pic: Sirotti)

“It’s an amazing feeling,” said Thomas. “I didn’t even think about it [winning the stage], to be honest. I was super-relaxed coming here.

“I didn’t believe it was going happen [when sitting in the hot seat]. I thought [Tony] Martin or somebody was going to beat me.

“I’ve had my fair share of bad luck this year – also back home this last month hasn’t been great – so it’s amazing to get this win. Big thanks to everyone who’s supported me. Big shout out to my wife, obviously, and my mum. We’ve both had a rough time recently. It’s a great day.”

Thomas is riding the Tour de France in support of Chris Froome and the Team Sky leader started his bid for a fourth title with an impressive ride, finishing the stage in sixth, 12 seconds behind Thomas – and, more importantly, staying upright.

Rain throughout the day made the Dusseldorf course treacherous, with a number of riders crashing on ice-like corners. Alejandro Valverde (Movistar), six times a top ten finisher at the Tour, was the day’s biggest casualty, with the Spaniard forced to abandon after a heavy fall. Valverede was later confirmed to have broken his kneecap having slid into the barriers lining the road. Bahrain-Merida leader Jon Izaguirre crashed on the same corner to become the second GC hopeful to leave the race on day one.

Chris Froome produced a strong ride to finish sixth and take time on his GC rivals (Pic: Sirotti)

To compound the misery of Valverde’s Movistar team, Nairo Quintana, who has twice finished second behind Froome at the Tour, lost 36 seconds to the Team Sky man to put the Colombian firmly on the back foot with just 14km raced.

Richie Porte (BMC Racing), who has widely been touted as Froome’s main rival for the Tour de France title, scarcely fared better than Quintana, losing 35 seconds to Froome.

Tony Martin, the pre-stage favourite, finished fourth (Pic: Sirotti)

In fact, four Team Sky riders finished in the top ten, with Michal Kwiatkowski finishing eighth as the British-based WorldTour squad firmly stamped its authority on the race at the first opportunity.

The second stage of the Tour de France will see the peloton tackle a 203.5km route from Dusseldorf to Liege. With the stage expected to finish in a bunch sprint, Thomas will be hopeful of holding onto the yellow jersey.

Tour de France 2017: stage one – result

1) Geraint Thomas (Team Sky) – 16′ 04″
2) Stefan Kung (BMC Racing) +5″
3) Vasil Kiryienka (Team Sky) +7″
4) Tony Martin (Katusha) +8″
5) Matteo Trentin (QuickStep Floor) +10″
6) Chris Froome (Team Sky) +12″
7) Jos Van Emden (Lotto-JumboNL) +15″
8) Michal Kwiatkowski (Team Sky) +15″
9) Marcel Kittel (QuickStep Floors) +16″
10) Edvald Boasson Hagen (Dimension Data) +16″

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