ON TOP: Rohan Dennis in action on stage one of he Tour de France.
ON TOP: Rohan Dennis in action on stage one of he Tour de France. BAS CZERWINSKIAAP

Research pays off as Dennis takes yellow

A 5AM reconnoitre of the route in May paved the way for Australia's Rohan Dennis to win the opening time-trial stage of the 2015 Tour de France.

The 25-year-old, riding for American outfit BMC Racing, scorched around the flat 13.8km course at an average pace of 55.446 kmh, bettering the previous record of 55.152kmh set by Britain's Chris Boardman in Lille 21 years ago.

After claiming the race leader's yellow jersey, the seventh Australian to achieve the feat, Dennis explained he had made a quick visit to Utrecht after a stage race in Belgium, arriving before sun-up, and before the traffic appeared, to ride the route in preparation for the opening stage.

He also said his strategy of going flat out the entire way had paid off.

"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," he said.

Arguably the biggest winner on the day was Colombia's Nairo Quintana.

An out-and-out climber, the 2013 runner-up was fourth of the quartet of riders most experts believe have the race between them, but just 18 seconds behind last year's winner, Vincenzo Nibali. The Italian was 22nd overall, seven seconds ahead of 2013 winner Chris Froome and 15 ahead of dual champion Alberto Contador.