Chris Froome (Sky) recognises that his time trial riding this year was below normal standards but says that it was great to have the good feelings back again in Saturday’s opening Tour de France stage in Düsseldorf.
Sky team-mate Geraint Thomas won the 14-kilometre stage on the rain-soaked roads. Froome clocked a time 12 seconds slower for sixth, but went faster than all of his classification rivals.
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“I went really cautiously around a lot of those corners, I really went in with the mentality of not to take risks,” Froome said.
“Seeing is how a lot of guys hit the deck today, it wasn’t worth it, but on the strait bits I felt was able to push quite hard.
“It was great to have that feeling especially given that my time trailing this year hasn’t been up to my normal standards. But we can take a lot away from that as a team to have four guys in the top-10. It shows the strength of the team we have here.”
Former time trial world champion Vasil Kiryienka placed third and Michal Kwiatkowski finished eighth.
Froome’s concerns were validated when he saw Nairo Quintana‘s team-mate Alejandro Valverde crash. He failed to finish the race and with injuries, will have surgery in Düsseldorf before travelling home.
“I think if you told me at the beginning of today that this is what the GC would look like after the stage,” continued Froome, “I would’ve definitely accepted that that and been happy to take that.”
Nairo Quintana (Movistar) came in 37 seconds slower. The rest, including Alberto Contador (Trek-Segafredo), Romain Bardet (Ag2r La Mondiale), Dan Martin (Quick-Step) and Fabio Aru (Astana) navigated Düsseldorf’s streets slower, but all finished within seven seconds of Porte’s time.
Some questioned Froome’s form given in the Critérium du Dauphiné time trial of 23.5 kilometres, he lost 37 seconds to stage winner Porte and finished behind Contador, who he normally beats.
The result boosts his mood, especially considering his long-time helper Thomas succeed. The Welshman helped Froome to his first three Tour titles in 2013, 2015 and 2016.
“I’m just absolutely so happy for G to have won his first stage in the Tour de France and to be in the yellow jersey as well. It’s just incredible,” added Froome.
“I can remember my first time and it’s such a special moment. I think it’s something G will remember for the rest of his life.
“For us going forward as a team, it’s going to lift everyone’s morale for the next few days. It’s going to mean we are going to have to be on the front protecting that yellow jersey, and it’s not a bad place to be given all the road furniture, cross-winds and potential of rain as well.
“We have the team to ride on the front, so I’m looking forward to these next few days.”
The Tour de France enters Belgium on stage two to Liège and its home country with stage three to Longwy, a small uphill finish.