The 104th Tour de France kicked off with a 14km race against the clock that saw Stefan Küng set a blistering pace to record the second-fastest time and inherit the Best Young Rider jersey, while Richie Porte crossed the line safely in the wet conditions.
Porte and Küng were BMC Racing Team’s last two riders to start in Dusseldorf and by the time they rolled down the ramp, they were chasing the provisional best time of 16’04” set by Geraint Thomas (Team Sky).
As rain continued to fall, Porte set off and navigated the slippery course conservatively to eventually finish 47 seconds behind Thomas, and clock a similar time to the General Classification contenders who had already finished.
In his Tour de France debut and wearing his Swiss National Time Trial champion skinsuit for the first time, Küng set a flying time to pass the intermediate check point in third place, one second behind.
Küng maintained his speed and power as he approached the finish line and crossed the line five seconds behind eventual winner Thomas to take second place.
At 23 years of age, Küng is the first rider to wear the Best Young Rider white jersey at the 2017 Tour de France.
In a day of numerous crashes, Porte’s safe passage to the line sees him sit comfortably amongst his General Classification rivals. Nicolas Roche crashed early in his time trial on the slippery roads, however was fortunate enough to escape unscathed.
Quotes from the Finish Line
Stefan Küng:
“I would have loved to be in yellow but congratulations to Geraint Thomas. It was a really amazing time. I was down one second on Tony Martin at the intermediate check point and I really tried to pull off a good finish. I put into some time on Tony but Geraint Thomas must have been flying at the end. I did everything I could and second place it is. In a time trial you always have to take risks but there is always a line and you don’t want to cross it and lie on the floor. It happened to me already so I really tried to stay upright but also go as fast as possible. I think I managed it ok, maybe not the best, but in the end I tried to make a difference on the long straight.”
Richie Porte:
“Keep it rubber side down was probably more the goal. I followed Nicolas Roche in the car just before my start and he binned it, so I was petrified to be honest. It was such a slippery course. I would have liked to have done a quicker time but the main thing is to have kept all of my skin. I was a little bit nervous, especially after watching your teammate crash. At the end of the day, I took no risks out there and I think that was the way to ride it out there today. Back at the hotel it looked like it might dry up a bit but it wasn’t to be. I think it was the same conditions for everybody so it all works out fair in the end.”
Nicolas Roche:
“It wasn’t great for me. It was a city center prologue and obviously the roads were a bit greasy in the rain which doesn’t help. I’m not sure if it was a bit of oil or the tram tracks, as I fell where the tram tracks were. I’m a bit disappointed as I was hoping to do a good prologue, but that’s how it is.”
Fabio Baldato:
“It was amazing for Stefan Küng. We said before the start that a top five would be good and he almost won. He was close to a super Geraint Thomas. We are happy. Richie is safe and close to all of the other GC guys. It was only Chris Froome (Team Sky) who managed to gain some time on the others. But for us, it was a really good day. Now we start the rest of the race with a good car position.”