Italian World Champion Filippo Ganna takes the Maglia Rosa at opening Giro d'Italia Time Trial
Italian time trial specialist Filippo Ganna won the opening stage of the Giro d’Italia, finishing by far the quickest over a 15km ITT course in Sicily. Ganna’s Ineos teammate Geraint Thomas took time from of all of his general classification rivals
World champion Filippo Ganna produced a flying performance to win the Giro d'Italia's opening day time-trial in Palermo on Saturday and claim the 21-day race's first pink jersey as overall leader.
Ganna's Ineos team captain Geraint Thomas was fourth on the day, completing the tricky 15.1km inner-city course more than a minute faster than most of his pre-race rivals for the overall title.
Ganna completed the slightly downhill 15.1km in a furious 15min 24sec, or at an average speed of 58.831km/h, just slightly outside the Giro stage speed record set almost 20 years ago in Pescara by Rik Verbrugghe.
Filippo Ganna (Ineos Grenadiers) said, "I'm really happy, this jersey is fantastic for me, and my team will also be happy. I say a big thank you to them, for all the support to arrive in pink at the Giro."
Geraint Thomas said afterwards, "Yeah I'm feeling pretty happy. Was just feeling a bit legless in that last 2km, maybe overdid it slightly but it was a good hit-out. A bit of a shock to the system, felt like a bit of a track pursuit. I'm pretty satisfied." Was it the fastest TT he's ever ridden? Probably, average-wise. It was super quick. I hit 94km/h. I've never been that fast in a TT. "
The 15 km mainly downhill route wasn't without contraversy, with narrow bumpy roads, tight bends and a howling wind that saw many riders struggle.
Victor Campenaerts who was one of the first favorites to finish, slid off on an oily bend and was not happy with the course, his scathing post-race reaction, "To be honest I was very careful in the corners, I knew it was dangerous corner and it was slippery, and I know this will not be the spot where you want to win the time trial because it's so dangerous.
"The road is full of oil, you can compare it to the roads in Mallorca. I am sure the surface was not cleaned, I am sure they could have made that effort, it's only 15km. I am 100% sure I was slow in the corner, it's just when you pick the wrong spot, you cannot see, it is so slippery, full of oil..it's disappointing but when I was on the long stretch, the super fast, I was so happy I crashed before because this section was so dangerous, almost 80km/h, full of bumps, wind.
"Of course, I am not happy with my performance."
Rohan Dennis a favorite for the stage said, "On the first climb I felt really good, and on the downhill before the switchbacks it wasn’t too bad, but once I was down on that long straight road, it was too unpredictable," Dennis said, "There were a couple of times when my bike got caught and I actually had to stop pedalling, because I thought I was going to go across the road into the fence. At that point I decided to keep going hard, but no risks for me. I was thinking about 21 stages – not just one."
Rohan Dennis less scathing about the course but says it was perilous out there: "The first climb I felt really good and the downhill before the switchbacks. "The long straight road was too unpredictable and my bike got caught and I had to stop pedalling as I thought I was going to go across the road into the fence. I took no risks from there, I was thinking about 21 stages, not just one."
Lopez Crashes and Abandons
Under overcast skies with wind scattering leaves across the sometimes less than perfect road surfaces Colombian Miguel Angel Lopez hit a bump, lost control and flew sideways crashing straight through metal barriers and into a shop front before being taken away in an ambulance.
Still wearing his rainbow time-trial winner's shirt the 193cm rider slipped on the Giro leader's pink jersey presented by the mayor of Palermo. "Both these jerseys are wonderful, but maybe this one, here today, feels better," said Ganna with a huge smile.
The 2018 Tour de France champion Thomas went down the ramp earlier than many key rivals and completed his race in less windy conditions.
He goes into Sunday's run across the Sicilian valleys 26 seconds ahead of Simon Yates, over a minute faster than double Giro champion Vincenzo Nibali, and more than 1min 20 sec ahead of Steven Kruijswijk of Jumbo-Visma and Jakob Fuglsang of Astana.
Sunday's Stage 2
Sunday's stage 2 is set for a titanic clash between the explosive puncheurs and strong sprinters. The 150 km stage from Alcimo to Agrigento has a run in that is entirely uphill at 5%, with peaks around 9%, 3 kms before the finish.
Coverage starts at 11:35 GMT / 12:35 CET / 06:35 Eastern USA.
VIDEO: 2020 Giro d'Italia Stage 1 Highlights
2020 Giro d'Italia Stage 1 Top 10
1 Filippo Ganna (Ita) Ineos Grenadiers 0:15:24
2 Joao Almeida (Por) Deceuninck-Quickstep 0:00:22
3 Mikkel Bjerg (Den) UAE Team Emirates
4 Geraint Thomas (GBr) Ineos Grenadiers 0:00:23
5 Tobias Foss (Nor) Team Jumbo-Visma 0:00:31
6Josef Cerny (Pol) CCC Team 0:00:36
7Matteo Sobrero (Ita) NTT Pro Cycling 0:00:40
8 Lawson Craddock (USA) EF Pro Cycling 0:00:41
9 Miles Scotson (Aus) Groupama-FDJ 0:00:42
10 Matthias Brändle (Aut) Israel Start-Up Nation