• Porte played it safe on the rainswept time trial in Dusseldorf. (Getty Images)Source: Getty Images
Richie Porte was well off the pace in the Tour de France's opening time trial, losing time to rivals Chris Froome and Geraint Thomas
By
Cycling Central

2 Jul 2017 - 7:33 AM  UPDATED 2 Jul 2017 - 7:43 AM

Australian hope Richie Porte (BMC) has endured a tough start to his Tour de France campaign, finishing 49th in a rainswept opening time trial.

Porte's conservative approach saw him come home 47 seconds behind stage winner Geraint Thomas (Team Sky) and 35 seconds behind last year's winner Chris Froome, putting the Tasmanian on the back foot from the first day.

Thomas in yellow as Valverde crashes out
A wet day in Dusseldorf wasn't enough to dampen the party atmosphere as the Tour de France kicked off with a Stage 1 time trial victory and yellow jersey for Geraint Thomas (Team Sky).

However, the Tasmanian was unconcerned by his relatively low position and was happy to survive the stage without incident.

"Keep it rubber side down was probably more the goal," Porte said. "I followed Nicolas Roche in the car just before my start and he binned it, so I was petrified, to be honest."

The opening time trial in Dusseldorf was plagued by heavy rain all day, with several riders crashing in the wet conditions.

"It was such a slippery course. I would have liked to have done a quicker time but the main thing is to have kept all of my skin," added Porte. "I was a little bit nervous, especially after watching your teammate crash. At the end of the day, I took no risks out there and I think that was the way to ride it out there today."

Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) was the biggest casualty of the day, crashing heavily and retiring from the race with a fractured kneecap and ankle. Valverde's retirement will be a blow for Movistar team leader Nairo Quintana, who sits two seconds behind Porte after Stage 1.

Valverde out of Tour after Stage 1 TT crash
Alejandro Valverde, a key team-mate of one of the race favourites, Nairo Quintana, is out of the Tour de France after crashing during the opening time trial.

Michael Matthews was the best-placed Australian, finishing 16th.