• Tony martin will be hard to beat at home. (Getty)Source: Getty
Tony Martin had an unequivocal, one-word answer when asked if he was aiming to take the first yellow jersey of the Tour de France on Saturday.
Sophie Smith

Cycling Central
30 Jun 2017 - 8:47 PM  UPDATED 30 Jun 2017 - 8:48 PM

“Yeah,” the German said at the team presentation on his home turf. “That’s it.”

Martin (Katusha) is the overwhelming favourite for the opening 14km individual time trial around Dusseldorf and even he struggled to name others that could challenge him for the first stage.

“Some stayed home so it’s hard to predict. I think Stefan Kung, [LottoNL-Jumbo’s Primoz] Roglic … that’s it.”

The newly crowned German national time trial champion enters the Grand Depart confident of his form and suitability to the flat course along the Rhine river.

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“I’m ready,” he said.

“It could be a bit longer but I like the course. It’s got nice some nice straights on it, so I guess it can be good for me.

“For the moment, I don’t feel the pressure, I have more joy, I enjoy the time here and don’t let the pressure come too close to me.”

Kung (BMC Racing) has been tasked to aid Richie Porte in his yellow jersey bid this year, but going all out at the Grand Depart for his own personal glory won’t jeopardise that.

BMC general manager Jim Ochowicz was less forthright than Martin when asked about Kung’s chances in the opener, but didn’t discount him either.

“Realistically there are five or six riders that could put that yellow jersey on, and Stefan is one of them. He’s going to go as fast as he can go,” Ochowicz said.

“It’s a free ride more or less, it’s not a huge effort and people are not going to be totally out of it for the next week because they made a big effort in the time trial. It’s a reasonably non-technical course and you can just put your head down and go.

“The thing about the opening time trial is that every rider here is going to go mostly as fast as they can go. Not that they all think they can win the race, but it’s the opening stage, all riders are coming here with relatively fresh legs from not having raced since maybe last weekend at the [various] national championships. They’re going to be nervous, anxious, have fresh legs, everybody is going to go fast.”

Relaxed Taylor Phinney (Cannondale-Drapac) is an outsider for line honours in what is the American’s long-awaited Tour de France debut following a well-documented injury setback. Australian Luke Durbridge (Orica-Scott) has also publicly spoken about his ambitions.

“For me, coming from a time trial background, I would say, yeah, for sure I’m going to give it 100 per cent and go for it,” Durbridge said.

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