It’s tour time again, everyone rejoice! The 14km Dusseldorf Time Trial brought rain, slippery corners, and crashes right off the boot.
Elie Gesbert of Fortuneo Vital Concept was the first rider into the hot seat on a rather cold, wet summer’s day. Posting a time of 17’24” on his 22nd birthday, his time in the hot seat was short lived, though, as Bahrain Merida's Sonny Colbrelli flew in with a 16’36”. Andrey Grivko of Astana posted a 16’21” soon after and sat in the hot seat for a fair while as the rain continued to come down.
Earlier on in the heavy rain, many teams chose to send out their sprinters to minimise time losses for their GC riders. Cofidis's Nacer Bouhanni took a careful ride around the whole course to try and ready himself for the following sprint stages, while LottoNL-Jumbo's sprinter Dylan Groenewegen found himself on the ground after hydroplaning on a troublesome dogleg corner.
The first set of GC contenders to tackle the wet course were Bora's Emanuel Buchmann and Rafal Majka and FDJ's Thibaut Pinot. Buchmann posted the fastest time of the three with a 16’44”, with Majka and Pinot around 10 seconds back. Movistar's Alejandro Valverde was the first major crash of the day, sliding out on the same corner which claimed the LottoNL boys Dylan Groenewegen and George Bennett. Valverde abandoned the race, and was taken to the hospital after the crash, hitting the barriers hard and being unable to get himself back up after a fracture to his left leg. Ion Izagirre, Bahrain Merida's GC contender, was also forced to abandon after a crash late on in the stage, leaving the team without a leader.
Although the rain faded as the stage closed, the wind picked up and hampered the later rider’s efforts. World Time Trial Champion Tony Martin of Katusha-Alpecin charged out of the blocks and took the intermediate top position from Sky's Michal Kwiatkowski, but couldn’t hold on to unseat Sky's Geraint Thomas’s blistering time of 16’04” set around 20 minutes earlier. Although GC favorites like Nairo Quintana, Alberto Contador and Richie Porte took their time through the corners, Chris Froome set out to create a gap between his fellow GC rivals. Beating them by 15 seconds at the intermediate, he continued that pace all the way through to create time gaps of around 30 seconds to his major rivals.
Today’s honours however ended up with the Welshman Geraint Thomas. A brilliant 16’04” set midway through the day was enough to keep G in the hot seat as his friend and teammate Chris Froome rolled through the finish line in the top 10. Team Sky now gets to don the Yellow Jersey on the shoulders of a rider other than Froome’s. Tomorrow’s stage brings a 203.5km flat stage out of Germany into Liege, where the sprinters will be hoping to contest the stage win as well as the crucial bonus seconds and a chance of wearing Yellow before the Tour heads to the mountains.