Kittel Tour win in Germany contrasts with cycling dirty past

Kittel Tour win in Germany contrasts with cycling dirty past

The 37-year-old Valverde, who was to be Colombian Nairo Quintana's key team-mate in the three-week race, crashed into a safety barrier during the opening time trial.

Movistar rider Valverde, consistently a contender in the general classification on Grand Tour events, suffered the same fate as a number of other riders in crashing in wet conditions on the 14km ride.

It is the third time Valverde has had to pull out of the Tour following his failure to finish in his first two participations in 2005 and 2006.

Valverde successfully underwent surgery at Dusseldorf's University Hospital to fix some of the injuries sustained in his race-ending crash, Movistar said in a statement.

The Team Sky man was left with a nervous wait after setting that imposing time, but watched on as competitor after competitor failed to better his effort.

"He's going to the hospital right now", Movistar sports director Vincente Garcia said immediately after the stage.

The stage belonged to Team Sky who had four riders in the top 10, with Vasili Kiryienka, third, defending Tour de France winner Chris Froome, sixth and Michał Kwiatkowski, eighth.

"It's really great for the team that Geraint has won", Froome said.

Valverde abandoned the Tour alongside Ion Izagirre - Geraint Thomas won the first stage. I was hoping to do a good prologue.

"I'm not sure if there was a bit of oil or if it was the tram tracks because I fell where the tram tracks were", admitted Roche.

"It was stressful. You kind of forget what the Tour is like", Thomas said. That's how it is. It's been a long time coming and it's just an amazing feeling. "Thirty or 40 seconds can be lost there".