Chris Froome says he is satisfied with where he stands after the opening individual time trial of the 2015 Tour de France, where riders faced heat in of around 30 degrees on the 13.8km course in Utrecht.
The Team Sky leader rode to 39th place on the stage, 50 seconds behind the stage winner and first man to wear the maillot jaune in this Tour, Rohan Dennis (BMC).
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Froome’s biggest rivals in the GC, Nairo Quintana (Movistar), Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) and Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo) finished the day all within 18 seconds of one another, a result Froome says he would have accepted ahead of the start.
“It’s such a short a course that it’s handy to have it out of the way now,” he said outside the team bus at the end of the stage. “I think in terms of GC contenders we’re pretty much within the same kind of ball park there.
“I would have taken that if you’d offered it to me at the beginning of the stage.”
The fast, flat course was certainly more suited to the purely powerful riders, with Tony Martin (Etixx – Quick-Step) and local favourite Tom Dumoulin rounding off the podium, but other GC hopefuls like Bauke Mollema (Trek Factory Racing) and Thibaut Pinot (FDJ) putting in impressive times, finishing 13th and 18th respectively.
But while Froome was content with efforts on the first day, he maintained a longer, more difficult course could have seen him finish further up the rankings.
“I’d certainly prefer it [a longer course], Froome said.
“I think the longer kind of efforts suit me, the longer efforts are what I’ve really spent a lot of time training for to be good up in the mountains, so this was something a bit different from that, but a definitely a good opener ahead of what’s to come.”
Another difficult factor for the riders to overcome was the blazing heat in Utrecht throughout the day, with Quintana setting off in slightly warmer conditions over two hours ahead of the other three contenders. The Colombian finished worst off of the four, 1-01 down on Dennis and three seconds back on Contador.
Riders from every team were spotted using cooling vests and ice packs throughout the day to try and combat the sweltering conditions, which Froome says definitely made a difference to the way a lot of riders performed on Saturday.
“It was warm out there but I’d much prefer this whether to the other kind of extreme,” he said.
“[The heat] makes a huge difference, I think everybody was feeling the heat quite a bit. But I’d much rather it was like this than the other way.”
Froome and the other contenders now head to a flat 166km stage to Zeeland on the Dutch coast, with the wind expected to have an influence over the race. It’s something Froome has struggled with in the past, such as in 2013 when he was left isolated and lost time to Contador in the crosswinds on stage 13.
“We haven’t really talked much about [stage two and the crosswinds],” Froome added.
“We haven’t really talked much about that, we’ve just been focusing on the prologue for now, but I’m sure we’ll go through that later on this evening.
“We’ve got the team here to look after me through a stage like tomorrow, so hopefully, use them in the right way.”
The 2015 Tour de France contenders