Tour de France: Wet weather risks pay off for Yates
Orica-Scott rider limits losses to Chris Froome while Chaves ships time
The flat 14km time trial to open the 2017 Tour de France was on paper hardly stage suited to the strengths of Orica-Scott's general classification riders Esteban Chaves and Simon Yates. However, while several of the podium contenders took a cautious approach to the wet and drizzly stage, Yates emerged with an early advantage over the likes of Richie Porte, Nairo Quintana, Fabio Aru and Alberto Contador.
For Tour debutant Chaves, the Colombian finds himself on the back foot after conceding over one minute to Chris Froome (Team Sky) but explained he was content to get through unscathed.
"It was wet and really scary as well. I was super scared of the corners. It is wet but it was awesome, 10 metres without public. It is unbelievable. I am really happy to start this new adventure and I hope we will make many memories for the future," said Chaves.
For Yates, the result ensures he is in the hunt for his pre-race aims of the white jersey and top-ten with defending champion Froome and stage winner Geraint Thomas the only GC riders to better his time in Dusseldorf.
“I'm pretty happy with the ride today. I'm used to riding in the rain being from the UK. Of course it's dangerous, but I feel OK in these conditions," said Yates. "We're in a good position after the first day. I took some time on some of our rivals and we can be happy with where we sit going into day two."
Orica-Scott sports director Matt White echoed Yates' comments, explaining the team hadn't expected the good outcome pre-stage.
“Simon has had a really good ride, he took some risks there and it's paid off. Anyone who had a good result has taken risks because the rain made an otherwise 'simple' and very fast course much more technical. When you look at the list of favourites, there are definitely a few who have ridden conservatively," said White. "We walk out of stage one in a better position than anticipated with Simon and we're off to a strong start for the white jersey competition too."
The team was also pleased with Daryl Impey as the South African national champion rode to 14th place.
“It's always an honour to ride the Tour de France and even more so to ride in the national championship jersey and show off the flag of our country," Impey said on the finish line," said Impey. "I felt good and bad. In some sections I felt really strong but then I was flat in the final. In a short time trial like that you can't leave anything behind so I finished completely empty."
However, there was a dampener for Orica-Scott with Luke Durbridge crashing in the wet and injuring his left ankle. White explained the Australian would be monitored overnight as the injury could rule him out of the race.
"Luke has had a fall during today's time trial. Thankfully there's no bone damage but he does have some concerns with ligaments," White said. "He was going all out for a strong stage result and unfortunately these things can happen. We will monitor the injury overnight and test tomorrow before making a final decision of his ability to start stage two."
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