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With a dominant performance in the 17.6km test along the Ligurian, Orica-GreenEDGE beat Tinkoff-Saxo by 7 seconds to win the opening Giro d’Italia team time trial for the second year in a row; Gerrans took the maglia rosa

Photo: ANSA / DAL ZENNARO - ZENNARO - PERI

ASTANA - PREMIER TECH

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GIRO D'ITALIA

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MITCHELTON-SCOTT

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SIMON GERRANS

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09.05.2015 @ 17:55 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Orica-GreenEDGE achieved their biggest goal in the Giro d’Italia when they emerged as the strongest in the opening team time trial that was held on a bike path along the Ligurian coast. The Australian team covered the 17.6km course in 19.26 to take the win for the second year in a row and it was Simon Gerrans who made up for a disappointing spring season by crossing the line in first position to take the first maglia rosa.

 

Orica-GreenEDGE have made team time trials their big specialty and whenever they have the chance to contest a race in this unique discipline, they always select their roster mostly based on that stage. That was also the case for this year’s Giro d’Italia where they had again made the opening TTT their biggest goal for the race after they won the opening stage in Belfast 12 months ago.

 

Hence, it was no surprise to see the team select powerhouses like Luke Durbridge, Michael Hepburn, Sam Bewley and Brett Lancaster for their team and that kind of firepower again turned out to be enough to come away with the win when the first grand tour of the year started with a 17.6km stage along the Ligurian coast. Already at the time check, it was clear that they were on a good day as they smashed the previous best time by 8 seconds before stopping the clock in 19.26 to lower the mark set by Astana by 13 seconds.

 

Among the late starters, only Tinkoff-Saxo were expected to pose a threat to the Australians and they got a big scare when they saw the Russian team cross the line at the time check in a time that was a few seconds faster. However, they had apparently started out too fast and a slightly disorganized performance forced them to slow down to wait for captain Alberto Contador. In the end, they had to settle for second with a time loss of 7 seconds.

 

However, Contador has every reason to be pleased with the outcome of the opening day. Among the GC riders, the Spaniard was the fastest and already gained 20 seconds on Richie Porte whose Sky team had a bad day. The Brits were among the favourites to potentially win the stage but could only manage 9th.

 

Instead, it was the Astana team who were in the mix for the victory. The Kazakh team was the fourth to start the stage and they stopped the clock in 19.39 to take an early lead. That mark proved to be difficult to beat and in the end only Orica-GreenEDGE and Tinkoff-Saxo were faster, meaning that Fabio Aru got the race off to a perfect start.

 

The same can be said for Rigoberto Uran whose Etixx-QuickStep team didn’t bring their best roster for this stage. However, the Belgians had a strong ride to finish the stage in fourth, losing just 12 seconds to Contador.

 

Among the five pre-race favourites, Domenico Pozzovivo was the biggest loser as his Ag2r team could only manage 20.14. Hence, the tiny Italian climber has already lost 41 seconds to Contador after just 17.6km of racing.

 

The happiest man in the race was Simon Gerrans who was allowed to cross the line as the first Orica-GreenEDGE rider. That allowed him to step onto the podium in Sanremo to get the first maglia rosa, conforming his love affair with the Italian city and putting a disappointing spring season behind him.

 

However, he is likely to lose the jersey tomorrow in stage 2 when the riders travel to Genova. There’s a bit of climbing in the early part but the stage is mostly flat and is expected to be one for the sprinters. With his teammate Michael Matthews set to contest the sprint finish, it may very well be the sprinter who finds himself in pink at the end of the first battle between the fast finishers.

 

A spectacular course

The 2015 Giro d’Italia started with a 17.6km team time trial that was held in spectacular surroundings on a bike path along the Ligurian coast and brought the riders from San Lorenzo Al Mare to Sanremo. The course was completely flat and had no big technical challenges, making it a stage for the big powerhouses.

 

Lampre-Merida were the first team to roll down the ramp under a beautiful sunny sky and they stopped the clock in 20.25 to take the early lead, with Roberto Ferrari being first across the line. However, they were quickly relegated into second when Patrick Gretsch and 6 of his Ag2r teammates posted a time of 20.14 to move into the hot seat.

 

Best time for Astana

Androni-Sidermec were not expected to shine in this discipline and so it was no surprise that they set a time of 20.29 that would ultimately see them finish last in the stage. Instead, all eyes were on Astana who had clearly been the fastest at the time check. Fabio Aru proved his good condition to sprint across the line in first position and all 9 riders were still together when the clock stopped in 19.39 for the best time.

 

Nippo-Vini Fantini had a reasonably strong ride as Damiano Cunego could lead 6 teammates to the finish in 20.23 but it was Trek that was expected to pose the first threat to Astana. The Americans were just 3 seconds off the mark at the time check but in the end, they had to settle for second with a time loss of 16 seconds.

 

Disappointment for Sky

Bardiani had a surprisingly good ride to stop the clock in 20.03 to slot into 3rd when 8 of their riders reached the finish together. However, most had their eyes on world champions BMC but already at the time check it was clear that they were not on contention. Team captain Damiano Caruso led his teammates across the line in 19.51 which moved them into second.

 

Sky were expected to be in contention for the stage win but the Brits had a bad day. Their time of 19.53 was only good enough for third and they got Richie Porte’s race off to a poor start.

 

Etixx-QuickStep get close

Astana got a scare when Etixx-QuickStep set the best time at the time check but they were unable to maintain the speed. Tom Boonen led the team across the line in 19.45 which was 6 seconds off the mark.

 

Giant-Alpecin could only managed 8th with their time of 20.15 before Sylvain Chavanel led 4 of his IAM teammates across the line in 19.51 to end a great ride for the Swiss team that made it into third. However, they were quickly relegated by a very strong Movistar team that had team captain Benat Intxausti first across the line in 19.47 which was good enough for third.

 

Orica-GreenEDGE take the lead

Southeast were never expected to shine in this discipline and so it was no surprise to see the Italian team post a time of 20.18. CCC Sprandi were not expected to be in contention for the win either and so it was a decent performance that saw them slot into 9th with a time of 20.11.

 

However, it was now all about Orica-GreenEDGE who had set the best time at the intermediate check. Gerrans and five teammates arrived at the finish in 19.26 to take the lead.

 

Katusha fade

LottoNL-Jumbo only had 8 riders at the start and so it was a reasonable performance that saw them stop the clock in 20.02 to move into the top 10. Lotto Soudal had set a surprisingly good intermediate time but faded towards the end, with Jurgen van den Broeck leading four teammates across the line in 19.55.

 

Katusha also got the race off to a fantastic start as they set the second best time at the time check. Like Lotto, however, they faded in the end and ultimately their time of 19.53 was only good enough for 10th.

 

Tinkoff-Saxo slot into second

Orica-GreenEDGE knew that their only real threat were Tinkoff-Saxo and they got a scare when the Russians were faster at the time check. However, they also lost ground and their time of 19.33 was only good enough for second.

 

Cannondale-Garmin had a disastrous day as they could only manage 20.19 which saw them slot into 18th and so everybody just had to wait for FDJ to complete their ride before Gerrans could step onto the podium. The Frenchmen did surprisingly well to take 8th with 19.52 but it was Orica-GreenEDGE who celebrated the most.

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