Gruber Gallery: Le Grand Départ

    There was a collective sigh in relief among teams as the Tour de France got underway in Düsseldorf on Saturday. Finally the nervous wait was over and cycling’s biggest show was on the road.

    Nate Brown was the first #GreenArgyle to race.

    “I normally never get nervous,” he said. “Today was no different until I got in the start house. All my emotions hit me at once. I felt nervous, excited and happy. I had goosebumps. I was starting the Tour de France, fulfilling my childhood dream. It lived up to everything I dreamt it would be.”

    Taylor Phinney produced the fastest ride among the Cannondale-Drapac Tour team. The American managed 12th place, stopping the clock at 16:21 following his 14-kilometer effort. His time was 17 seconds slower than stage winner Geraint Thomas (SKY).

    “There was this crash fro Valverde and a guy from Bahrain two or three minutes ahead of us,” said sport director Andreas Klier. “Once Taylor came to that corner, there were police and ambulance all over. After that the rhythm of his ride wasn’t the same anymore. YOu could see it from the car. How many seconds did it cost? I don’t know. It cost him places. It’s not an excuse, just an explanation.”

    Phinney headed straight from the bike to the NBC studio for a post-race interview.

    The day was not without drama. Slick, wet roads and tight corners caused several crashes. Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) and Jon Izagirre (Bahrain Merida) crashed hard enough that they were forced to withdraw. Paddy Bevin was the only #GreenArgyle to hit the ground. He slid into the barriers and suffered hip abrasions and an ankle sprain. Post-crash concussion testing back at the bus cleared Bevin to continue in his Tour debut.

    “I wouldn’t call it a successful day but we did our work,” said Klier. We could have done a little better with more luck. For me, Paddy could have been top ten, top five without a crash.”