Saturday 7 May 2016
There was no secret that Fabian Cancellara (Trek-Segafredo) targeted the win and the coveted maglia rosa in the opening time trial of the Giro d’Italia, but when he came down with gastroenteritis in the days before the race, and still dealt with the flu symptoms in the warm up, only a miracle was going to launch Cancellara into pink.
Despite the ideal conditions on a course tailored perfectly to four-time world time trial champion, the gastro got the better of him leaving him 14 seconds slower in a time of 11 minutes and 17seconds.
"It was a strange feeling during the race, I think. I just did the maximum I could; more than that was just not there,” Cancellara said.
"The last two weeks I was training hard and had much better sensations. When I was pushing today, I could feel there was something more missing. In the end, I lost almost one second by kilometre. I mean, I am not used [to this].
"I feel also that somehow I came to a point where I just could not give more, push more. I said that I would give everything that I could, and I did this. This is just the honest result.
"I am kind of disappointed, but the situation is I am still sick. This morning I was still fighting the stomach flu symptoms right before the race. This doesn't help and also the fear I had took a lot of the energy away. It is how it is. I will try to save as much I can in the next days to make it to Italy in better condition."
Returning to the race for the first time since 2014, Marcel Kittel (Etixx-QuickStep) was among the late starters in the 9.8-km long flat and non-technical individual time trial in Apeldoorn.
A former Junior world champion and winner of the U23 European title in the same discipline, the German showing he still has the skills against the clock, especially on short distances. He finished the day in fifth, only 11 seconds behind the first pink jersey of the race, Tom Dumoulin (Giant-Alpecin).
"It was difficult out there, as is every time trial. I got a good result and I'm satisfied with it, but this doesn't change anything. Taking the pink jersey isn't my priority, my focus in only on the flat stages and the sprints,” said Kittel.
“I will be happy if today's result will help me don the maglia rosa, but I'm not going to put extra pressure on my team for this."
Orica-GreenEDGE ticked off stage one and look forward to unleashing Caleb Ewan in the first sprint stage tonight.
Damien Howson (Orica-GreenEDGE) was the best placed Australian in the opening time trial finishing in 17th, 19 seconds behind Dumoulin. He also had the best post-stage hair.
"I am satisfied,” said Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) at the end of Giro d'Italia opening stage.
“[It] was a full gas time trial, with many corners where you had to slow down a little and then push again immediately."
Nibali finished in sixteenth place at 19 seconds behind Dumoulin, but gained precious seconds on the main rivals for the final victory the Spaniards Alejandro Valverde and Mikel Landa.
Mikel Landa gave up two seconds on the general classification to Rafal Majka (Tinkoff) and seven to Rigoberto Uran (Cannondale). He sits also 21 and 16 seconds back on Nibali and Alejandro Valverde respectively.
"It was difficult but I think my time is quite good. It's what we expected. This was a short, flat and difficult stage. I thought I could have lost more time,” Landa told Eurosport.
"With Mikel we're having a bit of a different start to usual," said sport director Dario Cioni. "We all remember a few years ago we were here with Bradley (Wiggins) and he went into the pink jersey. Mikel is a completely different type of rider, so today was about limiting the time losses.
“He put in a good ride on a course that doesn't suit him at all. Even the time loss to Nibali is fairly small. 20 seconds is in the lower range of what we might have expected, so he's done well.
"The work he's done during the winter has moved him forwards. It hasn't made him a time trial specialist, but if you look at today it could have been a stage where he'd lost a minute to the winner.
"The average time of the winner was 53km/h and Mikel was pushing 50km/h in a lot of sections of the course. For a climber that's pretty good!"