Tour de France 2017: Geraint Thomas wins opening stage, Chris Froome sixth

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Tour de France 2017: Geraint Thomas wins opening stage, Chris Froome sixth
Tour de France, 1-23 July
Coverage: Live text commentary of every stage on the BBC Sport website. Radio 5 live coverage on Sports Extra and/or website from 14:30 BST on every stage

Britain's Geraint Thomas won his first Grand Tour stage with victory in the opening 14km time trial of the 2017 Tour de France in Dusseldorf, Germany.

The Team Sky rider clocked 16 minutes four seconds to take the yellow jersey, with team-mate and defending champion Chris Froome 12 seconds back in sixth.

Swiss Stefan Kung (BMC Racing) was second with Belarusian Vasil Kiryienka (Team Sky) third in wet conditions.

Movistar's Alejandro Valverde is out of the race after crashing into a barrier.

Thomas, the first Welshman to win a stage on the Tour, told BBC Sport: "I just wanted to give it everything, get out there, try and pace it well and go as fast as I could and it couldn't have gone any better.

"I knew I could do a decent time trial on the day if I paced it well and I think I nailed that," added the 31-year-old.

"I didn't expect this when I woke up - I grew up watching the Tour and to be on the other side of that camera, putting on the yellow jersey, is amazing."

Tony Martin (Katusha-Alpecin) was faster than Thomas at the checkpoint but the German, who was the favourite to win the stage, faded to finish eight seconds behind in fourth.

Thomas is the eighth British rider to wear the yellow jersey and the first Welshman.

Sunday's 203.5km second stage goes from Dusseldorf to Liege, Belgium.

An unexpected triumph

Despite a solid reputation in time trials, Thomas was not considered among the pre-stage favourites, with his form also in doubt after a crash forced him to abandon the Giro d'Italia in May.

His ride was not picked up by the television feed, which focused instead on French general classification hopeful Romain Bardet (AG2R La Mondiale), who went out a minute before Thomas but had barely crossed the line as the Welshman took first.

Thomas had been three seconds off the pace of then leader and team-mate Kiryienka at the 8.1km checkpoint but finished seven seconds in front.

He faced a nervous wait, with reigning world time trial champion Martin and Swiss time trial champion Kung among those still out on the course.

But Kung could not maintain his slender advantage at the checkpoint and Martin misjudged his pace in the second half of the stage to concede a total of 12 seconds to Thomas in just under 6km and miss out on a yellow jersey at the first Grand Depart held in Germany since 1987.

Thomas also claims the green points jersey, while Kung takes the white best young rider jersey.

Froome and Sky lay down marker

Chris Froome
Defending champion Chris Froome gained a crucial advantage over his main rivals on stage one

After Martin and Kung failed to better Thomas' mark, the only rider left who could conceivably have taken yellow was Froome, who was the last man out.

However, the 32-year-old instead looked to balance his ride between gaining time on his rivals for the overall title and not taking unnecessary risks.

His decision paid off. A sixth-placed finish gives him an advantage of more than 30 seconds over all of his main rivals - Bardet, Australia's Richie Porte (BMC Racing), Colombia's Nairo Quintana (Movistar), Spain's Alberto Contador (Trek-Segafredo) and Italy's Fabio Aru (Astana).

Of perhaps equal concern for Froome's challengers, Team Sky were in impressive form, with Poland's Michal Kwiatkowski finishing eighth to give the British team four riders in the top 10.

Elsewhere, 24-year-old Briton Simon Yates (Orica-Scott) produced an impressive ride to finish 37 seconds behind Thomas and in front of many of his fellow climbers.

Valverde abandons

Alejandro Valverde

A fast course soaked by rain all day resulted in several crashes, with Valverde the most notable casualty as the Spaniard was forced to abandon the race.

The 37-year-old misjudged a slick corner and was thrown forward as his bike fell from under him, colliding with the crash barriers and failing to get to his feet.

His team later said he broke a kneecap in the crash and Valverde tweeted to confirm he had been operated on successfully.

Valverde, who finished third in the 2015 Tour, was an outside contender for the overall title and was expected to be a key team-mate for Quintana, as the two-time Tour runner-up seeks to finally beat Froome.

Britain's Scott Thwaites (Dimension Data) was able to continue after a heavy crash but Jon Izaguirre (Bahrain-Merida) abandoned after crashing on the same corner as compatriot Valverde.

Stage one result and general classification

1. Geraint Thomas (GB/Team Sky) 16mins 4secs

2. Stefan Kung (Swi/BMC) +5secs

3. Vasil Kiryienka (Blr/Team Sky) +7secs

4. Tony Martin (Ger/Katusha) +8secs

5. Matteo Trentin (Ita/Quick-Step) +10secs

6. Chris Froome (GB/Team Sky) +12secs

7. Michal Kwiatkowski (Pol/Team Sky) +15secs

8. Jos van Emden (Ned/LottoNL-Jumbo) +15secs

9. Edvald Boasson Hagen (Nor/Dimension Data) +16secs

10. Marcel Kittel (Ger/Quick-Step) +16secs

Selected others

29. Simon Yates (GB/Orica-Scott) +37secs

49. Richie Porte (Aus/BMC) +47secs

53. Nairo Quintana (Col/Movistar) +48secs

63. Romain Bardet (Fra/AG2R) +51secs

66. Fabio Aru (Ita/Astana) +52secs

68. Alberto Contador (Spa/Trek-Segafredo) +54secs

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