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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Sunday, October 4, 2020

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2020 Tour de France | 2019 Giro d'Italia

Life has no blessing like a prudent friend. - Euripides

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Giro d'Italia stage one team reports

We posted the organizer's report with the results.

Stage winner Filippo Ganna's INEOS Grenadiers team posted this:

Filippo Ganna powered into the maglia rosa as the Italian won the opening stage of the Giro d’Italia.

Filippo Ganna

Filippo Ganna on his way to the maglia rosa. Sirotti photo

The new world time trial champion carried his form into his Grand Tour debut, taking victory by 22 seconds in Palermo.

The fast 15.1-kilometre course provided a tough test for the riders, with Ganna completing the test in a rapid pace of 58.831km/h. His victory also ensured he moved into the white young rider jersey.

It was also a fantastic start to the race for Geraint Thomas. The Welshman took the fourth fastest time on the day, 23 seconds back on his teammate, but crucially taking time out of all his established general classification rivals.

The wind made life difficult on the coast in Sicily, with riders having to battle the conditions. Rohan Dennis was buffeted by tough gusts on his run but was still able to finish 15th on the day.

Filippo Ganna:
"I’m really happy to win with this jersey. It’s fantastic for me and also the team. I want to say a big thank you to them for all the support.

"The important thing was to be in the pink jersey tomorrow and we took the result. I’m really happy.

"I think every jersey is special, and having this pink jersey alongside the rainbow jersey is a dream for me. I didn’t think too much about the race – that’s the secret. We talked a lot yesterday with the guys and with G, but not about the race. And today we both got this fantastic result."

Geraint Thomas:
"It was windy but I think it was quite comfortable on the bars actually. It was gusty but it felt pretty solid. That was a bonus. I think I was a bit too aggressive to start as in the last two kilometres I started losing the legs a bit, which was a shame as it was a bit more of a headwind there. But I definitely emptied the tank.

"I was steady on the corners as I’d seen a few guys had crashed. There were definitely no risks. I can still be pretty happy with how it went."

Here's the report from second-place João Almeida's Deceiuninck-Quick Step team:

One of Deceuninck – Quick-Step’s two Grand Tour debutants, João Almeida put in an incredible exhibition of stage 1 of the 103rd Giro d’Italia and finished in second place, after holding the fastest provisional time for almost two hours. Almeida was one of the early starters, when the sirocco that blew from the Mediterranean was an extra challenge, but thanks to a combination of skills, aggressive riding and , he covered the demanding 15.1km-long course between Monreale and Palermo in 15:46, averaging 57.46km/h in the process.


João Almeida on his way to second palce. Sirotti photo

Of the many pink jersey contenders and time trial specialists that left the start ramp after him, only Filippo Ganna, who won the discipline’s world title last month, could improve Almeida’s time. A podium finisher at this year’s Vuelta a Burgos, Giro dell’Emilia and Settimana Internazionale Coppi e Bartali, João sits in second overall following this complicated opening stage, which means that on Sunday he will get on loan the race’s prestigious maglia ciclamino.

“The wind was very strong today, and just tackling that climb in the beginning, which had also a cobbled section, wasn’t easy at all. I struggled a bit, but I remained focused and rode at my own pace, and even later, on that technical descent and on the flat, I didn’t take any risks, especially as the wind was coming from the left and then from the right.”

“The corners were also a bit slippery, but I managed it well and was blown away at the finish when I saw that I had the best time. It was a real honour to stay in the hot seat for so long, it felt great. Taking second on my very first Grand Tour stage is a perfect start that makes me very happy and feeds my confidence for the next three weeks”, said the second Portuguese rider in history, and the first in 31 years, to sport a Giro d’Italia distinctive jersey.

Team Bora-hansgrohe sent me this:

The Sicilian start to the 2020 Giro d’Italia kicked off with an individual time trial – albeit one with a difference. The 15.1km parcours started with a categorised climb, a short and sharp 18% gradient kicking things off, before a long downhill into Palermo for the finish. While riders would want to stay sharp on the high-speed descent, as the day progressed, it was as much about keeping under control with the high winds that battered the course. As the first BORA-hansgrohe rider out of the gates, making the most of the fast conditions, Peter Sagan posted a time of 17:14, but it was clear that the Slovak rider had been making full use of his bike handling abilities in the face of the high winds.

The course itself threw some obstacles in front of the riders, with some twists and turns in the fast downhill catching some out, while the street circuit finish also threatened some upsets. While some riders were just looking to finish the day, others saw this stage as a chance to ride hard, and BORA-hansgrohe’s time trial specialist, Maciej Bodnar was the highest-placed of the team, taking a time of 16:37, closely followed by Pawel Poljański. The changing wind conditions saw the fastest times coming in around the middle of the day, and by the time Patrick Konrad and Rafał Majka started their runs, the gusts had picked up again. Finishing safely though, the team was ready to face the rest of the Giro, starting with stage 2’s undulating parcours. 

"It might not have been the way we wanted to start the Giro but it was pretty obvious to everybody that the wind shift made it impossible for the late starters to clock a good time. Some other GC favourites suffered from the same problem, and we all lost important seconds today. However, there was nothing we could do about that, you can't change the weather. My shape is good and I feel confident about the rest of the race. The positive that I can draw from this stage is that I find myself in good company at the back of the standings today." – Rafał Majka

"It was a really tough prologue. We started with a climb, followed by a tricky descent and then the real time-trial. It was really hard for me and we'll have to see the day's standings. The first stage is done and I look forward to tomorrow now." – Patrick Konrad

"We had a scary opening time trial, with very strong winds and high speeds, over 100km/h for some riders. Wind conditions were quite variable and shifty, so our focus today was on our TT specialist and our GC contenders. Maciej Bodnar was our best rider today but he had to go through some scary moments when the side wind gusts moved him wildly from one side of the road to the other. Patrick Konrad put in a good performance overall, finishing ahead of some of the main GC contenders. In hindsight, the riders that started earlier suffered less but, of course, this is beyond anyone's control. The good news is that all our riders finished safe and sound, and that was important in such a difficult day." – Jens Zemke, Sports Director

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