Castroviejo (6th), Malori (8th) take top-ten finishes in Tour's opening TT, with Dennis (BMC) victorious; nearly all favourites -including Quintana and Valverde- stay within 30" distance
The only individual time trial in the 2015 Tour de France, 13.8km in and around Utrecht, became an extremely fast contest which left small differences between the main GC contenders. Rohan Dennis (BMC) profited from his world-class power and favourable wind conditions to beat Tony Martin (EQS) and Fabian Cancellara (TFR) for the stage, while the three national TT champions from the Movistar Team finished within the top 15 of the day's sheet.
Remarkable was Jonathan Castroviejo's 6th place (+23"), also early in his start and staying for most of the stage in a massive third place provisional; Adriano Malori took 8th (+29"), in a course too short for his abilities; and in 13th, always less than 40" apart, Alex Dowsett also confirmed the Unzué-led squad's potential, especially looking towards next Sunday's team time trial on stage nine.
In turn, the two big GC threats from the Blue squad did a good job. Nairo Quintana took advantage from correct team strategy, having set his depart more than two hours earlier than most of the favourites', and enjoying softer winds, he finished with a time only 24" away from Mollema (TFR) and 20" adrift of Urán (EQS) and Pinot (FDJ), who also started halfway through the TT order. Meanwhile, Alejandro Valverde finished 5" faster than his team-mate, and at the same time, close to Nibali (AST) -13" faster than him, 18" over Quintana-, Froome (SKY) -6" on the Spaniard, 11" quicker than the Boyacá rider- and Contador (TCS), who rode slower than the 'Bala' and only 3" better than Nairo.
The Grande Boucle will tackle on Sunday an intriguing first road stage, with gusty winds expected to show up in the south western coast of the Netherlands, mainly against dykes on the way from Utrecht to Neeltje Jans (166km).
Nairo Quintana (just after finishing his TT): “The start of a Grand Tour always becomes difficult. It was a long time since I didn't ride a TT. It was a demanding effort, but I felt physically well. We weren't interested on the times by Dennis or those two started before me, but the top guys, in order to give value to the result."
Alex Dowsett (13th): “I’m disappointed, but it’s not a heavily surprising result; it was a really hard TT, always at full speed, even reaching 56kph into headwinds. I cooked myself early on, and when you do that on such a course and you’re down on average speed, you don’t get a choice to keep pushing and try to reach Rohan’s speed or backing off and saving it for the end. I struggled a bit compared to the big boys.”
Alejandro Valverde: “It's not important to have finished 5" ahead of my team-mate. Nairo did really well and we were also up there. Things went more or less good; there were some gusty winds into the final sections of the TT, but not much harder than for the early starters, but it's true that this might have made gaps shrink a bit between the GC favourites."