Australian Rohan Dennis set a new record for the highest average speed in a Tour de France timetrial as he won the opening stage of the 2015 edition on Saturday.

The 25-year-old scorched around the 13.8km course in just 14min 56sec despite Utrecht being suffocated by a heatwave.

“I’ve broken a dry spell of wins and what a way to do it,” said Dennis.

He was the only rider to break the 15min mark and set a new Tour record of 55.446kph on average for a timetrial, beating the 21-year-old mark set by Britain’s Chris Boardman over a course that was just over half the length.

More important for Dennis, though, will be his opportunity to wear the yellow jersey on Sunday’s second stage over 166km from Utrecht to Zeeland.

“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 the BMC rider.

Dennis had said before the Tour began that his whole season had been built around training for this timetrial and that should he win, it would be “the happiest day” of his “life as a cyclist”.

And he did so in style, beating three-time world timetrial champion Tony Martin into second by 5sec with four-time world champion Fabian Cancellara third at 6sec.

Amongst the overall contenders, reigning champion Vincenzo Nibali surprised his rivals by putting time into Chris Froome, Alberto Contador and Nairo Quintana.

– Early marker –

The first marker was set by 2010 Dutch timetrial champion Jos van Emden, the ninth rider to start, who finished in 15min 11sec.

But less than half an hour later, that was bettered by Dennis, even though Van Emden’s time of 7min 27sec at the 7.1km time check would remain unbeaten all day.

Dennis was only one second behind but finished stronger to beat Van Emden’s time by 15sec.

He had to wait for almost two hours before the true challengers to his time started to roll over the line, but even then, no-one could match the former Hour record holder.

Home hope Tom Dumoulin was a second slower than Dennis at halfway but had lost eight seconds by the end.

German Tony Martin was three seconds down at halfway and had lost another two seconds before the finish. 

Dennis’s predecessor as World Hour record-holder Matthias Brandle of Austria could not trouble the Australian, finishing seventh at 23sec, while his successor, Britain’s Alex Dowsett, was well off the pace at 36sec in 13th.

By now there were very few riders left expected to push for the stage victory and even Spartacus, Cancellara, a five-time winner of opening stage timetrials or prologues at the Tour, could not unseat Dennis.

Like Dumoulin he was a second behind Dennis at halfway but like everyone else he couldn’t match Dennis’s pace over the second half of the race.

Italian Nibali caused a stir by beating the man he deposed as Tour winner, a seemingly out-of-sorts Froome, by 7sec.

Nibali finished 22nd in 15min 39sec while the other two members of the ‘fantastic four’ lost even more time than Froome, who was 39th.

Spanish Giro d’Italia winner Contador was 15sec behind the Italian while Quintana lost 18sec.

History making Eritrean pair Daniel Teklehaimanot and Merhawi Kudus gave a respectable account of themselves as the first ever black Africans to ride the Tour for their MTN Qhubeka team, the first African outfit to ride the Grand Boucle.

Teklehaimanot finished 146th out of 198 riders in a time of 16min 30sec with Kudus 175th in 16min 47sec.

Nibali’s Astana teammate Lars Boom was at the start line after his participation had been in doubt on Friday night due to a low cortisol level in an unofficial test conducted by the Movement for Credible Cycling (MPCC).

Although it does not constitute a doping violation, the MPCC advises it’s member teams — who are aligned to the movement on a voluntary basis — to stand down the rider for eight days on health grounds.

Astana failed to gain permission from the International Cycling Union (UCI) to field a replacement so they opted to let Boom take to the start.

The 29-year-old Dutchman finished 23rd at 44sec.


Class standings from the 1st stage of the Tour de France, a 13.8km individual timetrial around Utrecht on Saturday:



1. Rohan Dennis (AUS/BMC) 20 pts

2. Tony Martin (GER/ETI) 17

3. Fabian Cancellara (SUI/TRE) 15

4. Tom Dumoulin (NED/GIA) 13

5. Jos van Emden (NED/LNL) 11

6. Jonathan Castroviejo (ESP/MOV) 10

7. Matthias Brandle (AUT/IAM) 9

8. Adriano Malori (ITA/MOV) 8

9. Wilco Kelderman (NED/LNL) 7

10. Stephen Cummings (GBR/MTN) 6


Team stage:

1. LottoNL 46:06.

2. RadioShack at 0:03.

3. BMC 0:08.

4. Movistar 0:10.

5. Etixx 0:12.


Team overall:

1. LottoNL 46:06.

2. RadioShack at 0:03.

3. BMC 0:08.

4. Movistar 0:10.

5. Etixx 0:12.

6. Giant 0:34.

7. IAM Cycling 0:40.

8. Sky 0:48.

9. Astana 0:54.

10. Orica – GreenEdge 0:59.

11. Tinkoff 1:08.

12. 1:10.

13. Team MTN 1:34.

14. Cannondale 1:46.

15. Lotto 2:01.

16. AG2R La Mondiale 2:11.

17. Bora 2:16.

18. Katusha 2:21.

19. Lampre 2:41.

20. Europcar 2:54.

21. Cofidis 2:55.

22. Bretagne-Séché 3:08.


Best young riders (stage):

1. Rohan Dennis (AUS/BMC) 14:56.

2. Tom Dumoulin (NED/GIA) at 0:08.

3. Wilco Kelderman (NED/LNL) 0:30.

4. Bob Jungels (LUX/TRE) 0:38.

5. Tylan van Baarle (NED/CAN) 0:38.


Best young riders (overall):

1. Rohan Dennis (AUS/BMC) 14:56.

2. Tom Dumoulin (NED/GIA) at 0:08.

3. Wilco Kelderman (NED/LNL) 0:30.

4. Tylan van Baarle (NED/CAN) 0:38.

4. Bob Jungels (LUX/TRE) 0:38.

6. Peter Sagan (SVK/TIN) 0:41.

6. Thibaut Pinot (FRA/FDJ) 0:41.

8. Luke Durbridge (AUS/ORI) 0:46.

8. Simon Yates (GBR/ORI) 0:46.

10. Michael Matthews (AUS/ORI) 0:58.

Agence France-Presse

- Advertisement -