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With a dominant display of power, Astana put 14 seconds into Sky and Ag2r over the 12.1km course on the opening stage of the Giro del Trentino; Agnoli is the first leader

Photo: Unipublic










19.04.2016 @ 17:14 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Vincenzo Nibali got the Giro del Trentino off to a perfect start as his Astana team was in a class of its own in the opening team time trial. On the short, flat 12.1km course, the Kazakh team put no less than 14 seconds into Mikel Landa’s Sky team and Domenico Pozzovivo’s Ag2r team which allowed Valerio Agnoli to become the first leader of the big Italian stage race.


In 2013, Vincenzo Nibali proved that he was ready to go for victory at the Giro d’Italia by riding to a dominant victory in the Giro del Trentino. He later went on to win that the Italian grand tour in equally dominant fashion.


This year Nibali hopes to repeat that performance as he returns to the Giro for the first time since his last victory. Again he will use the Giro del Trentino to get ready and after today’s opener, everything suggests that he is on track for another great year.


Nibali’s Astana team was the big favourite for the opening team time trial and they fully lived up to expectations. On the short 12.1km course at the Lake Garda, the Kazakh team was in a class of their own and put significant time into all their key rivals.


The race has been billed as a showdown between the two big Giro favourites Nibali and Mikel Landa and the team time trial turned out to be just that. However, Landa’s Sky team was no match to Astana as they lost a massive 14 seconds in the short, flat stage.


However, Nibali can’t take anything for granted. The very strong Ag2r team with the three-pronged attack of Domenico Pozzovivo, Romain Bardet and Jean-Christophe Peraud did one of the best team time trial to take third, just fractions of a second slower than Sky. Hence, the three WorldTour teams in the race all finished in the top 3.


Last year Bora-Argon 18 won the stage but they were unable to repeat that feat. The German team did well to limit their losses to 16 seconds but this time they had to settle for fourth, giving their leaders Dominik Nerz and Emanuel Buchmann a solid start.


Gazprom-Rusvelo are here without their track specialists and so were unlikely to take another win after their victory in the Coppi e Bartali TTT. However, the in-form Sergey Firsanov can be very pleased with the performance, losing just 21 seconds to Nibali with a fifth place finish.


The four Italian pro continental teams Bardiani, Nippo, Southeast and Androni finished in largely identical times, losing around 35 seconds to Astana. As opposed to this, Hugh Carthy and Caja Rural lost a massive 54 seconds while Brendan Canty’s Drapac team was unfortunate to have three riders go down in a crash and so the Australians lost 54 seconds.


Valerio Agnoli was the first Astana rider across the line and so he takes the first leader’s jersey. He is in the same time as six of his teammates as he goes into the first mountain stage of the race. Stage 2 is a long 220km trek into Austria along gradually rising roads, with just a small category 2 climb along the way. However, it will all come to an exciting conclusion on a real wall of 3.63km in the end. It includes several sections of double-digit gradients and will be a perfect chance for the punchy climbers to make a difference.


A flat opener

The 40th edition of the Giro del Trentino kicked off with a flat 12.1km team time trial that brought the riders from Riva del Garda to Torbole. The first half was a bit technical and slightly uphill while the second half was slightly descending and mostly on a straight road, meaning that it was a stage for the big specialists.


It was a sunny day at Lake Garda when Sky gathered on the ramp as the first team. The Brits were keen to get the race off to a strong start and did well to stop the clock in 13.44, with local rider Gianni Moscon leading them across the line. Team captain Landa skipped turns for most of the race, sitting on the back of the British train.


Best time for Astana

Pre-race favourites Astana were already the second team to hit the course and they showed that they were ready to do great things when they passed the time check in a time that was five seconds faster than Sky’s. They increased their pace in the second half where Davide Malacarne was distanced, and it was Agnoli who sprinted across the line to stop the clock in 13.30 which was 14 seconds better than Sky.


The Italian national team lost a rider right from the start and was down to just 5 riders in the end. However, they did better than expected to post a time of 14.14.


Solid start for Ag2r

Bardiani started the race with only seven riders and they stayed together to post a solid time of 14.04, getting the race off to a good start for Giulio Ciccone, Stefano Pirazzi and Manuel Bongiorno. As opposed to this, Skydive had a bad ride and slotted into last place despite a strong effort of Francisco Mancebo in the final part.


Three-time winner Damiano Cunego started well as his Nippo-Vini Fantini team posted a time of 14.04 to slot into fifth but it was the Ag2r team that everybody was waiting for. The Frenchmen were just 2 seconds behind Astana the time check but as they lost too many riders in the finale, Bardet could lead four of his teammates across the line in 13.44 to move into third.


No repeat for Bora-Argon 18

Drapac were among the outsiders but after having lost three riders in an early crash, they were on the back foot right from the start. They finished strongly but their time of 14.24 saw them slot into last place.


Bora-Argon 18 hoped to win again but had already lost four seconds at the time check. They lost more ground in the finale and their time of 13.46 was only good enough for fourth.


Difficult stage for continental teams

Tirol were also hampered by a crash and were completely disorganized when they arrived, stopping the clock in the slowest time of 14.32. However, it was better than D’Amico who were next to cross the line in 14.36.


Norda emerged as the best continental team as they posted a fine time of 14.14 before the small Amore e Vita team paid the price for having to do the TTT on normal road bikes. The Italians could only manage 14.44 and would end the race in last place.


Gazprom-Rusvelo miss out

Southeast kept their 8 riders together to slot into 8th with a time of 14.05 which was one second better than the Androni team of climbing talent Egan Bernal. As expected, the Brazilian national team was off the pace with a time of 14.33, leaving just two teams on the course.


Caja Rural had a disastrous ride with 14.24 to deliver the worst performance of the pro continental teams. Gazprom-Rusvelo did much better with 13.51 and a fifth place but it was Astana and Agnoli that stepped onto the podium as the big winners.



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