Primoz Roglic mastered the tough conditions to win Sunday’s Time Trial at the Giro d’Italia and put himself in a strong position in the General Classification going into the second week - writes Tim Bonville-Ginn.
Italian Valerio Conti held on to his pink jersey, but it was elsewhere in the GC standings that the real drama happened.
It was a particularly poor day for Simon Yates in the wet, who slipped to over three minutes behind Roglic, and there were big time gaps elsewhere in a day that will prompt aggressive racing in the mountains later in the Giro.
Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma)
Image credit: Getty Images
At the start of today Roglic was favourite to come out on top and the Jumbo Visma rider did not disappoint, storming to victory, beating European champion and hour record holder, Victor Campenaerts by 11” in San Marino.
Speaking after his stage win, Roglic said:
It's a perfect performance in my mind. I did a good job. I took it easy at the beginning and I gave it all at the end. It's nice to take some time over the other GC favorites but the Giro is far from over.
In keeping with the theme of the opening week it was atrocious weather on the road between Riccione, on the sea front, and San Marino, with rain hammering down on the riders all day and the final few having to deal with clouds descending on them at the finish too.
One of the early starters held the lead for nearly the entire stage, in the shape of Victor Campenaerts. No-one else got anywhere close to being inside that gap until Trek Segafredo rider Bauke Mollema pulled off a major surprise and came across the line just 49” down on the Belgian TT star.
He held on for so long, only to lose it due to a dropped chain with just over a KM to go. The machanic brough him his road bike, from there onwards, it was like a slapstick scene. Bizarre and near impossible to describe.
And a very surprising performance came in the shape of Preston born, Hugh Carthy of EF Education First, who finished eighth on the day, 1’30” down on Roglic to put himself high in the standings for the white best young rider’s jersey. That prize was the only one of the major jerseys to change hands, with Giovanni Carboni of Bardiani unable to hold off the challenge of AG2R La Mondiale’s Nans Peters and finishing over 5 minutes down.
Peters, now sitting third overall at 2’21” in GC, won’t be realistically holding onto the jersey when we go onto the mountains, so this is a real bonus for the young Frenchman and his team, who famously don’t do well at this race.
While the battle for white rages on, the fight for pink has very much got another firework lit. It was an excellent day for the previously mentioned Mollema, but also a good day for the likes of Vincenzo Nibali of Bahrain Merida.
Bob Jungels, Pello Bilbao, Richard Carapaz and Rafal Majka will also be feeling content after their rides, with Jungels, of Deceuninck Quickstep, being the highest placed on the day, in seventh.
It wasn’t all good news today for the GC men, with Mitchelton-Scott’s Yates and Astana’s Miguel Angel Lopez the big losers on the day.
Yates finished down in 32nd on the day, losing 3’11” to Roglic, while Lopez finished even further down, in 42nd place.
Yates now sits over five minutes down behind Conti in the GC. Could this be his Giro challenge over already?
Race leader Conti gave a super account of himself, pacing it just right to retain his lead over Roglic by a new margin of 1’50”.
Who can touch Primoz Roglic?
Astana and Mitchelton Scott are the two main teams who really need to have a think about strategy now, perhaps targeting the queen stage up the Mortirolo and the Gavia to try and replicate the sort of comeback that Chris Froome managed last year.
The then Team Sky man was down at around five minutes at one-point last year and the Giro can change in a moment, nothing is done until the last rider crosses the line in Verona after the final ITT.
But Roglic is in second overall, the only real GC name up there, and has big time gaps over his main rivals.
Plans will be set out to challenge him in the second and third weeks, but will they work?
After the rest day we have two sprint days, then a day that could suit the break, and then the mountains! It’s going to be exciting!