Porte disappoints in dramatic Tour opener


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    Australian hope Richie Porte has endured a tough start to his Tour de France campaign, finishing 49th in a dramatic opening time trial won by Welshman Geraint Thomas of Team Sky.

    A wet first stage in Dusseldorf caused carnage with Alejandro Valverde, a podium finisher in 2015, crashing out on the rain-slickened roads, dealing a blow to his teammate Nairo Quintana’s hopes of overall victory.

    Quintana had been counting on Valverde, a Tour veteran, to help him overthrow defending champion Chris Froome, a teammate of Thomas.

    The Tour announced on its website that Valverde was out of the race and had been taken away in an ambulance.

    The rain also got the best of Porte’s countryman Luke Durbidge, a strong time trial contender who finished second-last after crashing.

    Michael Matthews was the best-placed Australian, finishing 16th.

    BMC rider Porte would have been hoping for a top-10 finish after strong performances so far this season. He finished 10th and second on similar stages before winning the time trial at last month’s Criterium du Dauphine.

    Thomas clocked 16 minutes 04 seconds, five seconds quicker than BMC’s Swiss rider Stefan Kueng and two ahead of Sky teammate Vasil Kiryienka of Belarus.

    Froome took time from all of his yellow-jersey rivals with a strong sixth place and sits 35 seconds ahead of Dauphine runner-up Porte.

    While Porte will be concerned to concede ground before the Tour proper begins, he was happy not to suffer the same fate as Valverde.

    “It wasn’t a day to take risks,” he said. “It was just a matter of keeping it rubber side down. I saw my teammate (Nicolas Roche) bin it and I was petrified to be honest. It was such a slippery course.”

    Saturday’s opening stage was a statement of intent from Team Sky. In addition to Thomas, Froome and Kiryienka, Poland’s Michal Kwiatkowski also finished in the top 10.

    Thomas was forced to withdraw from the Giro d’Italia in May after he suffered a shoulder injury during the ninth stage, but he put that behind him with the victory in Germany.

    “It’s unreal. The start of my eighth Tour, my 12th Grand Tour and my first stage win. It’s been a long time coming and it’s just an amazing feeling. I didn’t even dream about it last night,” he told British television.

    “It’s been a rough time on the bike this year and it’s nice to finally … it certainly makes up for most of the Giro, and back home as well. With my mum and my wife I’ve had a bit of a rough time recently so it’s nice to get this win.”

    © AAP 2018
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    The Crowd Says (3)

    • July 2nd 2017 @ 5:28pm
      Big Steve said | July 2nd 2017 @ 5:28pm | ! Report

      safe ride. 30s isn’t alot at this stage and it’s better for him to be 30s behind rather than in yellow on day one.

      • July 2nd 2017 @ 5:32pm
        jameswm said | July 2nd 2017 @ 5:32pm | ! Report

        Yep, some massive stages to come.

    • July 6th 2017 @ 11:25am
      BrainsTrust said | July 6th 2017 @ 11:25am | ! Report

      The difference between Sky And BMC is Sky have the yellow jersey as the domestique for Froome.
      Where BMC on stage 3 had Porte acting as the lead out man for Van Avermaet, and then I am not sure what happened either Porte lost his mind going for a stage win or they were trying to force the pace so the sting would be out of the sprinters and give Van Avermaet the chance to get them. The only thing that demonstrated is how poor the BMC team are. CAdel Evans used to do that sort of thing as well though he was more of a flat rider than Porte.
      So whatever extra juice Porte had on Froome he wasted on Stage 3 and Sagan won the stage anyway.
      With a mountain stage two days later it was so foolish.

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