Tour de France: Froome in same ballpark as main rivals after opening time trial

Content, satisfied and more than just a little relieved to start the Tour de France, Chris Froome finished 39th in the opening time trial in Utrecht on Saturday.

The result itself wasn’t anything to write home about but in the grander scheme neither was the 50 seconds he conceded to stage winner and first Tour de France leader Rohan Dennis.

“It was pretty tough out there for such a short course. I’m happy to have it out of the way now with all GC contenders we’re all in the same sort of ballpark. If course I would have hoped for a bit of a better start but there’s not much in it at the moment,” Froome told reporters after his ceremonial warm-down outside the Team Sky bus.

The seven seconds Froome lost to Nibali, the eight he put into Alberto Contador and 11 into Nairo Quintana will probably be of little consequence when the race finally reaches Paris in three weeks, but Froome, the Tour de France winner in 2013, was quick to point out that his specific race training had been centred around the long and potentially more damaging efforts that will be required to win the overall.

“The longer efforts suit me and what I’ve spent a lot of time training for is to be good up in the mountains, so this was something a bit different from that but a good opener for what’s to come.”

“I would have taken that if you’d offered it to me at the beginning of the stage.”

Of note today was the fact that the wind appeared to make less of an impact on the earlier riders with the main beneficiaries Wilco Kelderman, Bauke Mollema, Tejay Van Garderen and Thibaut Pinot who all stole a few seconds on the predicted big four of Froome, Contador, Nibali and Quitana.

“It sounds like the wind picked up a bit towards the end but I don’t know. I wasn’t out there earlier. At the end of the day I’m happy with that. The longer efforts are where my training is geared towards. That was hard but I’m happy to have that out of the way. It’s a short intense effort and not really what we’ve trained for. We’ve trained for the mountain stage but at the end of the day I’m pretty happy with that. It’s going to be a long three weeks and this is just the start.”

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