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Grand Départ Utrecht 2015 report

5th July 2015

Cannondale rider at Utrecht TDF time trial

The Grand Départ of the Tour de France 2015 in Utrecht was a success. The people of the city celebrated the arrival of the Tour with a sort of laid-back enthusiasm. The two stages were well-organised, and were watched by lots of spectators (for example, an estimated 350,000 at stage one). Volunteer tour makers, an idea borrowed from the Yorkshire Grand Départ (and originally the London Olympics), were on hand with help and advice.

Tour makers near Jaarbeurs, Utrecht

Grand Départ Utrecht 2015: stage one time trial report 

Argon Bora rider, Utrecht

Stage one took place on Saturday 4th July 2015, and it was a 13.7km time trial around the city of Utrecht. Among the favourites, Tony Martin had start number 165, Fabien Cancellara number 187, Alberto Contador number 194, and Chris Froome 195. Rohan Dennis set off much earlier, the 38th rider to go.

Finish line, stage 1, Utrecht  

In hot weather, the best time of the early starters was set by Jos van Emden, at 15min11. Cavendish (16min22) was unable to beat that time, and Rohan Dennis was the first rider to do so, clocking 14min56. He then had to wait about 2 hours for the favourites set off. They were unable to beat his time. Tony Martin came closest, at 5 seconds, with Cancellara next, at 6 seconds, and Dumoulin at 8 seconds. Dennis was therefore the winner of the stage, and wears the race leader's yellow jersey.

Hot Tour de France spectators, Utrecht

Vincenzo Nibali was fastest of the GC contenders (22nd, +43s), then Froome (39th, +50s), Contador (46th, +58s), and Nairo Quintana (57th, +1.01).

Chris Froome, Utrecht             Vincenzo Nibali

CyclingNews has the full race reports and results. This video shows a few of the riders on stage 1:

Grand Départ Utrecht 2015: stage two report

Rohan Dennis in the yellow jersey

Stage 2 was a 166km road race from Utrecht via Gouda and Rotterdam to Zeeland (Neeltje Jans). The riders rolled through the streets of Utrecht, with Rohan Dennis at the front in the yellow jersey, then the racing began in the outskirts of the city. A break went clear almost immediately, with Quemeneur, Barta, Fonseca, and Clement.

A spectator takes a selfie in front of the peloton

With about 100km to go, the front of the peloton, driven by the teams of the GC favourites (Sky, Tinkoff, Movistar, and Astana), split from a group at the back. The riders caught out at the back included Martin, Talansky, Hesjedal, and Rodriguez.

Heavy rain fell on the riders, and Adam Hansen (in his twelfth consecutive Grand Tour) fell, but was able to get back in the saddle.

The breakaway riders were caught, but there were further splits in the peloton, with a lead group of 26 forming, including Froome, Geraint Thomas, Ian Stannard, Contador, Van Garderen, Dumoulin, Cancellara, Kwiatkowski, Tony Martin, Cavendish, Sagan, Degenkolb, and Greipel. In the second group were Nibali, Rohan Dennis, Quintana, Peraud, Pinot, Gesink, and Bauke Mollema.

In the sprint from the first group, Cavendish hit the front too early, and was overtaken by Greipel, who won the stage, as well as Sagan and Cancellara. Cavendish was fourth. The second group including Nibali lost 1min27 to the lead group of Froome and Contador.

Cancellara's third place earned him a time bonus, which puts him in the yellow jersey.

This was the peloton whizzing past on the way out of Utrecht:

Grand Départ Utrecht 2015: Caravane d' Utrecht and city decorations

Caravane d' Utrecht

Yellow-haired cyclists, Caravane d' Utrecht

There was a parade through Utrecht city centre the night before the Tour, Friday 3rd July 2015. It was called la Caravane d' Utrecht, and involved floats and contraptions made by the different districts of Utrecht, as well as drummers and musicians.

Caravane d' Utrecht float   Caravane d' Utrecht bikes

Yellow bicycle sunglasses were popular amongst paraders and spectators alike, but other shades were in evidence too.

TDF sunglasses, Utrech   Bike rider in Caravane d' Utrecht

The bikes and contraptions ranged from cool to crazy.

Bakfiets at Caravane d' Utrecht   Caravane d' Utrecht

This is a short video of the Caravane d' Utrecht:

Utrecht's Tour de France decorations

The city had been enthusiastically decorated ready for the Tour, with bunting over the streets.

Bunting near Domplein  Korte Jansstraat with TDF bunting

The trees had been given yellow, green, or polka dot jumpers.

Polka dot trees, Utrecht  

Many shop windows benefited from a Tour de France makeover.

TDF shop window, Utrecht

There was a special Tour de France offer on croissants at the local bakery.

Special TDF offer at local bakery, Utrecht  

And bike art at Jaarbeursplein.

Bike art, Jaarbeursplein

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