The heat was on from the very first moment of the 2015 Tour de France — and the greatest race on earth proved it's just as capable of surprises and controversy as it has ever been

Rohan Dennis is destined for great things

Like you didn’t know that already.

With overall victory at the Tour Down Under this year and the Hour Record under his belt, taking the first maillot jaune of the 2015 Tour has topped off a stunning six months for the 25-year-old.

And he did it in style. Setting an extraordinary time early on, it became abundantly clear that even the big guns of time trailing were going to struggle to beat the sub-15 minute time set by the BMC rider.

His reward for that hard work was a few hours in the hot seat, which was quite literally…well that leads us to the next part…

Holland can be hot

Seriously, it was a scorcher. It definitely wasn’t the kind of weather that comes to mind when you think of the Netherlands.

Riders were trying to stay cool in any number of ways, from ice packs to water over the head, to the weird Orica-GreenEdge vest that you have to plug in.

The heat relented slightly towards the end of stage, but with the mild relief in temperature came the difficulty of more wind for the later riders, Perhaps that’s why so many good times, including Dennis’s, were set earlier in the day

The Eritreans have some dedicated fans

MTN-Qhubeka’s Daniel Teklehaimanot and Merhawi Kudus, the Tour’s Eritrean debutants, seemed to have some fan base on the road side in Utrecht.

Flags, t-shirts, they had it all. In fact, they were almost rivalling the Colombians as the noisiest non-native fans for once.

Teklehaimanot had the honour as first man off the start ramp in Saturday’s time trial, to rapturous applause by all, and was spotted in an ‘I love Eritrea’ t-shirt later on amongst the team buses, as he soaked in the adulation.

MTN-Qhubeka during the rather bizarre Team Presentation of the 2015 Tour de France (Watson)

MTN-Qhubeka during the rather bizarre Team Presentation of the 2015 Tour de France (Watson)

Tony Martin is human after all

He was the out and out favourite, no matter what the home crowd would have said about Tom Dumoulin.

It like Tony Martin was destined to wear the first yellow jersey of the Tour after all the build-up talk, but the three-time world champion was unable to chase down Dennis’s time, missing out on the stage win by a mere five seconds.

The German partly blamed the heat, which he did seem to be struggling with even on the trainer outside the Etixx – Quick-Step bus, where he poured water over his hat-covered head to try to cool down.

It was still an impressive ride by Martin on the fast, flat 13.8km course, but he’ll look back on this forever as an opportunity missed.

 

MPCC membership means nothing when the chips are down

Well, that’s what it seems. Despite claiming to be dedicated members of the Movement for Credible Cycling, Astana were quick to abandon the principle of withdrawing a rider who has low cortisol levels, fielding Lars Boom who had shown just that in a Friday afternoon test.

Team manager Alexander Vinokourov said that starting the Tour in support of Vincenzo Nibali with only eight riders was not an option when he was confronted by journalists at the team hotel on Saturday morning.

The team had tried to rope in a replacement rider in Alessandro Vanotti, but as the testing for low-cortisol levels doesn’t break any UCI rules, there was no way there governing body were going to allow it.

Brian Cookson confirmed as much in Utrecht today (standing as far from the Astana bus as possible), while the team looked fairly relaxed despite being surrounded by Dutch media all day and under the spotlight again for all the wrong reasons.

They’re not the only ones to ditch the MPCC recently either, with LottoNL-Jumbo, Bardiani-CSF and Lampre-Merida all dropping out of the voluntary organisation for similar reasons.

  • llos25

    And rightly so and Brian Cookson what a disaster for cycle racing that man is he will get plenty of money though.