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Six weeks after he was forced to abandon the Giro d’Italia while contending for overall victory, Team Sky’s Geraint Thomas is the first race leader of the 2017 Tour de France. Thomas proved fastest over a wet 14km time trial in Düsseldorf, Germany, beating Stefan Küng (BMC Racing) by five seconds. Sky teammate Vasil Kiryienka was third, seven seconds back. Pre-race favorite Tony Martin (Katusha-Alpecin), the world time trial champion competing on home soil, could only finish fourth, eight seconds down.
Defending champion Chris Froome (Team Sky) finished strongest of the GC contenders, 10 seconds behind Thomas but 37 seconds ahead of Simon Yates (Orica-Scott), 47 seconds ahead of Richie Porte (BMC Racing), and 48 seconds ahead of Nairo Quintana (Movistar).
Quintana will likely be more upset by the loss of teammate Alejandro Valverde, who crashed heavily in a slick corner and was forced to abandon with what was later revealed to be a broken left kneecap. Another Spanish GC rider, Jon Izaguirre of Bahrain-Merida, also crashed heavily on the same corner as Valverde and was also forced to abandon.
The 14km lollipop loop along the Rhine River was saturated with rain from early in the day, making the corner-heavy nature of the route a challenge. The wet tarmac added a hugely technical aspect to the normally benign, short effort. Riders took corners tentatively, and several still hit the deck.
Dylan Groenewegen (Lotto-Jumbo), Rick Zabel (Katusha-Alpecin), Nicholas Roche (BMC Racing), Tony Gallopin (Lotto-Soudal), Paddy Bevin (Cannondale-Drapac), George Bennett (LottoNL-Jumbo), and Luke Durbridge (Orica-Scott) were among those to meet the tarmac after sliding out through corners.
Full stage 1 race report, highlight video, and results here.