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Dennis Smashes Record For Yellow Jersey

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July 4, 2015 – Australia’s Rohan Dennis will wear the first yellow jersey of the 2015 Tour de France after winning the opening stage timetrial in Utrecht on Saturday.

AFP/Yuzuru Sunada

In the midst of a heatwave, Dennis was the only rider to complete the 13.8km course in under 15 minutes and beat three-time world timetrial champion Tony Martin into second with four-time world champion Fabian Cancellara third.

In the race for the overall title, reigning champion Vincenzo Nibali stole a march on his main rivals amongst the fantastic four. Nibali finished in 15min 39sec to beat Chris Froome by 7sec with Alberto Contador at 14sec and Nairo Quintana losing 18sec to the Italian.

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At the head of the race, though, Dennis won his first major timetrial in a stunning time of 14min 56sec to beat Martin by 5sec and Cancellara by 6sec. “I’ve broken a dry spell of wins and what a way to do it,” said a delighted Dennis, 25, an Olympic silver medalist on the track three years ago in the team pursuit.

There was disappointment for the home fans in the Netherlands, though, as their great hope Tom Dumoulin could finish only fourth at 8sec. It was another Dutchman, 2010 national champion Jos van Emden, who was actually quickest at the halfway point but faded to fifth at 15sec.

Dennis was only a second behind Van Emden at the 7.1km time check, with both Dumoulin and Cancellara just one more second further back, but the Aussie finished strongest of all.

“I left it all out there; I went off harder than what I thought I should have and I came back harder than what I thought I could,” said Dennis, who also set a record average speed of 55.446kph for a Tour timetrial, beating the 21-year-old mark set by Britain’s Chris Boardman.

Dennis finished second in his national timetrial championships in 2013 as well as earlier this year and was silver medalist at the Commonwealth Games last year. “It’s a huge relief, a huge goal I’ve finally achieved. I keep saying it, it’s the Tour de France, our biggest stage. “So little people from Australia have actually worn the yellow jersey in their career, it’s a huge honor.”

Dennis also had to beat the very best to take the first yellow jersey on the 2015 Tour. Three-time world timetrial champion Tony Martin was second at 5sec with four-time champion Fabian Cancellara third another second further back. German Martin said he had struggled with the heat, which reached the mid 30s Celsius during the day. “I’m very, very disappointed. I wanted to win. Any other result is a bad one,” said the Olympic silver medalist.

“I feel that I couldn’t handle the heat, especially in the second half where I felt weaker. “It was hot but that’s the Tour de France, it’s in July and this timetrial wasn’t long enough for me.”

Home hope Tom Dumoulin could finish only fourth at 8sec but he doffed his cap to Dennis. “Dennis was really strong,” he said. “He has done better than me. I’ve done everything right. I took the curves really well. I heard the crowd supporting me. It was extraordinary but unfortunately I didn’t make it.”

Four-time world champion Cancellara had won five times before when the the Tour began with a race against the clock and each time outside France — London, Monaco, Rotterdam and Liege twice. But he could not repeat the trick in the Netherlands this time. “It’s like that, it’s the race. What can I say, I know I lost a few seconds in some bends,” said the 2008 Olympic champion. “In the end I gave my all with the heat. I’m sorry I didn’t win and get the (yellow) jersey but that’s sport.”

The overall contenders were separated by just 18sec with reigning champion Vincenzo Nibali gaining an edge on his rivals. He was seven seconds quicker than Chris Froome, who was succinct in his assessment of the day’s trial. “That hurt a little.. 1 down 20 to go,” he wrote on Twitter. Nibali beat Alberto Contador by 15sec with Nairo Quintana posting the worst time of the ‘fantastic four’. “We’re all more or less in the same time. The differences aren’t important,” said Nibali.

Final ITT Riders of Stage 1

Results Stage 1:
1. Rohan Dennis (Aus) BMC Racing Team 0:14:56
2. Tony Martin (Ger) Etixx – Quick-Step 0:00:05
3. Fabian Cancellara (Swi) Trek Factory Racing 0:00:06
4. Tom Dumoulin (Ned) Team Giant-Alpecin 0:00:08
5. Jos Van Emden (Ned) Team LottoNL-Jumbo 0:00:15
6. Jonathan Castroviejo (Spa) Movistar Team 0:00:23
7. Matthias Brandle (Aut) IAM Cycling
8. Adriano Malori (Ita) Movistar Team 0:00:29
9. Wilco Kelderman (Ned) Team LottoNL-Jumbo 0:00:30
10. Stephen Cummings (GBr) MTN – Qhubeka 0:00:32

General Classification:
1. Rohan Dennis (Aus) BMC Racing Team 0:14:56
2. Tony Martin (Ger) Etixx – Quick-Step 0:00:05
3. Fabian Cancellara (Swi) Trek Factory Racing 0:00:06
4. Tom Dumoulin (Ned) Team Giant-Alpecin 0:00:08
5. Jos Van Emden (Ned) Team LottoNL-Jumbo 0:00:15
6. Jonathan Castroviejo (Spa) Movistar Team 0:00:23
7. Matthias Brandle (Aut) IAM Cycling
8. Adriano Malori (Ita) Movistar Team 0:00:29
9. Wilco Kelderman (Ned) Team LottoNL-Jumbo 0:00:30
10. Stephen Cummings (GBr) MTN – Qhubeka 0:00:32