Team Sky have started the Tour de France as they mean to go on – with the yellow jersey - and Team Sky boss Dave Brailsford couldn't be happier.
Geraint Thomas stormed to line honours at the end of the 14km time trial here in Dusseldorf, Germany, which the British outfit animated throughout.
Brailsford said the first yellow jersey of the race wasn’t a specific goal for the Welshman leading into the 104th edition that now features four Sky riders in the top 10.
“I think he’s gone out there and focused on the actual performance and not worried too much about the rest of it. I’m so happy for him,” Brailsford said. “He gives so much to everybody else, he really does.”
Thomas, 31, abandoned his own burgeoning Grand Tour title assault through crash-related injury at the Giro d’Italia in May. But at the Tour de France he has always proved a gutsy super-domestique, going so far as to aid Chris Froome to victory at the 2013 edition with a fractured pelvis.
Teammate Vasil Kiryienka had kept the hot seat warm for Thomas, who blasted through seven seconds faster than the Belarusian.
Brailsford was emotional at the bus past the finish line talking to some journalists, surprisingly not sure in that moment what advantage his defending race champion Froome had made on his title rivals.
“It’s a bit of a blur, I’m not going to lie! I need to calm down, have a bit of a think and look at where we are at but we’re in a pretty good position. It’s nice to get underway and get going,” he said.
The results sheet later showed Froome had made inroads on his opponents, some of whom, including Richie Porte (BMC Racing), decided to play safe on the slick roads and constant rain. The 32-year-old gained 35 seconds on Porte, 36 seconds on Nairo Quintana (Movistar) and 42 seconds on Alberto Contador (Trek-Segafredo).
“It’s like anything else, you never quite know what’s going to happen, you never quite know where you are at and everybody is nervous,” Brailsford said. “Then you get going and Kiri [Kiryienka] did a good time, [Michal] Kwiatkowski did a good time and then of course G [Thomas] came out of nowhere really. He paced it fantastically well,” Brailsford said. “And then Chris brought home a really good time. Overall, it’s a fantastic start.”
"He paced it fantastically well,” Brailsford said. “And then Chris brought home a really good time. Overall, it’s a fantastic start.”