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Roglic Takes Pink, Dominates Opening Stage

Slovenian wins time trial ahead of Yates and Nibali

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Bologna stayed dry on Saturday as Italy gave the ridres and fans of the 102nd Giro the warmest of welcomes. Coming into the stage there was a question as to whether Tom Dumoulin’s form would improve enough for him to challenge Primoz Roglic, and a question as to whether the stage would suit the climbers or the time-trial specialists. Both questions received resounding answers: nobody’s form was close to Roglic, and the stage was set up to suit the grimpeurs more than the chronomen.

The majority of the star riders went early, with much of the TV coverage resembling Waiting for Godot as Simon Yates lurked as a threat to those who put in good times. Dumoulin, winner in 2017, was the first down the ramp and set a time of 13.22, and was quickly knocked off top spot by Miguel Angel Lopez, who put in a stunningly strong ride, proving the importance of the climb and suggesting that his form may be coming good at just the right moment. For Dumoulin, who hasn’t been at his best yet this season, this challenge may have come too soon, but he stayed close enough to keep his chances alive.

The next big name in was Vincenzo Nibali, and Mr Reliable did his job for the tifosi, knocking five seconds of the time clocked by both Lopez and Dumoulin, and putting down another marker of excellence. His time in the hot seat never looked like lasting long as Roglic rolled down the ramp minutes after the Shark. His blistering form continued and whilst we thought he’d win, a time of 12.54 gave him a meaningful cushion over the rest of the field and was ominous. He looked solid on the flat and every bit as solid on the climb. It was a masterful performance from a rider who increasingly looks comfortable among the elite of the sport.

Many riders shot at Roglic’s time and finished some distance back, though the likes of Rafal Majka, Tao Geoghan Hart and Bauke Mollema put in excellent times. Nothing was certain until Yates finished, and the ante-penultimate rider would eventually take second. His nineteen second deficit came almost entirely from the climb, as he was a long way back at the foot of the climb, 18 seconds down (though this was clearly calculated, something he confirmed in his post-race interview). He took almost the entire climb out of the saddle and looks to be at his elastic best.

In the context of a three week race with longer time-trials and major mountain passes, it is far too soon to make any judgments. The next seven comparatively quiet stages will allow some riders to come into form (especially Doom, who’ll be planning a peak for two GTs) and may well result in a reshuffle at the next time trial. There is also the constant fear of crashes and injuries. On the basis of what we’ve seen so far, however, Primoz Roglic and Simon Yates look to be a distance ahead of the rest of the field.

  1. Roglic 12.54
  2. Yates +.19
  3. Nibali +.23
  4. Lopez +.28
  5. Dumoulin +.28
  6. Majka +.33
  7. Geoghan Hart +.35
  8. de Plus +.35
  9. Mollema +.39
  10. Caruso +.40

I haven’t yet seen confirmation of the other jerseys, but I believe Giulio Ciccone clocked the fastest ascent and in doing so took the mountain jersey, whilst I believe Lopez is still youth-jersey qualified. I’m sure someone will put me right.

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Oh, and if all this left you needing a drink, Amy has you covered.