Porte survives opening Tour de France test but loses important ground to Froome

BMC leader finishes stage 1 time trial 47 seconds down

As one of the red-hot favourites for this year's Tour de France, BMC's Richie Porte will scan down the results sheet for the opening time trial in Düsseldorf with mixed feelings this evening.

Finishing in 49th place – 47 seconds down on stage winner Geraint Thomas – only told one side to a multifaceted opening day at the Tour, with the 35 seconds conceded to Thomas' Sky teammate Chris Froome of greater concern. The small gains over Nairo Quintana (one second), Dan Martin (two seconds) and Romain Bardet (four seconds), will fill Porte's rivals with even more confidence.

Just a month ago Porte convincingly dispatched Chris Froome et al with arguably one of the best performance of his career in the Critérium du Dauphiné – leaving his rivals scratching for glimmers of hope. After just 14 kilometres of this year's Tour de France, Porte remains the potent threat he was before he rolled down the start ramp but as he made his way to the BMC Racing team bus it was his turn to look for the positives. At least, unlike Alejandro Valverde (Movistar), Ion Izagirre (Bahrain-Merida) and his own teammate, Nicolas Roche, Porte didn't crash on the slippery surface that defined the Düsseldorf course.

"I felt great but I don't think it's meant to feel good. I went super cautious in the corners. I followed Nicolas Roche in the car and he ended binning it so he probably wasn't the best guy to follow today. I was super-nervous but I'm just happy to start the Tour," Porte said as the media engulfed him at the line.

"I feel a little bit disappointed but the main thing is to come through without crashing. It was slippery out there, I expected a little more but we'll see what happens on GC."

The GC picture put Thomas, Froome and Team Sky in the driving seat. The British WorldTour team posted four riders in the top eight on the stage, in a move that sent a clear message to their rivals. Even Team Sky's Dave Brailsford couldn't resist gloating at the line.

"We look vulnerable don't you think? That's what everybody's been saying," he said.

"We're on it. Despite what everybody else says. We're here to race now.

"I was nervous before the start, and sitting on the bus and watching guys crash, I think the main thing was to come through without crashing. It was a hard little time trial, dead flat, and those corners and all the lines, you try and avoid them. It was quite a mental thing as well."

For Porte, the stage was far from a disaster. Valverde left in an ambulance and Alberto Contador and several other rivals lost time to the Australian but after just 14km of racing the Dauphiné runner-up finds himself having to play catch up. The hope within the BMC camp will be that their leader has the form to claw back the time loss to Froome after seeing him off his in June. The Tour, after all, is a war, and not one battle.

 

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