Dennis wins Tour de France opener

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Australian Rohan Dennis claimed the first yellow jersey of the Tour de France as defending champion Vincenzo Nibali stole some potentially vital seconds ahead of his rivals in the race to Paris.

BMC Racing rider Dennis finished in 14 minutes 56 seconds to win from Tony Martin (Etixx-QuickStep) and Fabian Cancellara (Trek), who were five and six seconds behind, respectively.

Dennis’ average speed of 55.45kph was the fastest recorded in a Tour time-trial, despite the technical, twisty 13.8-kilometres course through the centre of Utrecht in Holland.

Australia’s Rohan Dennis puts on the overall leader’s yellow jersey on the podium of the first stage of the Tour de France .

Italian Nibali (Astana) was the quickest of the four favourites for the overall title, clocking 15mins 39secs.

That was seven seconds quicker than Briton Chris Froome (Team Sky), who finished in 15:46 to place 39th.

Spaniard Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo) conceded 15 seconds to Nibali in finishing in 15:54, while Colombian Nairo Quintana (Movistar) was three seconds further back.

Sunday’s second stage sees the 198 riders embark on the 166km route from Utrecht to Zelande.

A sprint finish is expected, unless cross winds split the peloton, with Mark Cavendish bidding to add to his 25 Tour stage wins.