Orica-GreenEdge Takes Giro's TTT; Tuft in Maglia Rosa
Orica-GreenEdge has drawn first blood at the Giro d’Italia.
Orica-GreenEdge has drawn first blood at the Giro d’Italia 2014. The Australian squad stormed over the flat, technical, 21.7-km course in Belfast, Northern Ireland to win Stage 1 in 24:42. Omega Pharma-Quick Step finished second at 0:05, and BMC took third at 0:07. Svein Tuft (Orica-GreenEdge) took the race’s first maglia rosa on his 37 th birthday.
Rain was a factor in the race. Colombia was the first team to start, but little was expected of the team and its 26:04 raised no eyebrows. Orica-GreenEdge, however, was the day’s second starter, and its performance could not have been more different from Colombia’s. Many observers expected Orica-GreenEdge to win, and the Aussies did not disappoint. They got into line quickly, stayed that way, and led Colombia by 0:22 at the first checkpoint (7.9 km). The Australian squad never looked back and crossed the finish line with seven riders. The team let Tuft cross the finish line first.
Omega Pharma-Quick Step was one of the few teams that got close to Orica-GreenEdge. The Belgian team rode hard to support Rigoberto Uran, last year’s runner-up. The squad supported him well and sent him to bed as the highest-placed GC contender.
BMC did nearly as well for Cadel Evans, who finished third in 2013. The Swiss squad was only two seconds slower than Omega Pharma-Quick Step and positioned its team captain well. Evans will begin Stage 2 just two seconds behind Uran.
Tinkoff-Saxo Bank has two co-captains, Nicolas Roche and Rafal Majka, and the Danish team looked after them reasonably well. The team finished 0:16 behind BMC and 0:18 behind Omega Pharma-Quick Step. Road captain Michael Rogers said, "We're happy with our performance. Compared to the other GC riders, we made sure that Nico and Majka are now in a great GC position from the start of the race."
Astana rode to support 2011 Giro champion Michele Scarponi. The Kazakh squad lost about half a minute to the first three teams. Its team captain, 2011 Giro champion Michele Scarponi, is 0:33 behind Uran, close enough for now, particularly with a squad that is not especially strong racing against the clock.
Cannondale, which two-time Giro winner Ivan Basso leads, is not a strong time trial squad, and it showed today. The Italian team lost nearly a minute to the leaders, which does not put Basso in a strong position.
Much was expected of Movistar, but weather victimized the Spanish team. Movistar held back on wet corners and lost precious seconds. The team finished eighth at 0:55. It did not suffer a fatal blow, but team captain Nairo Quintana did not plan on being more than three quarters of a minute behind the top GC contenders after just one stage.
The teams with GC aspirations that turned in the worst performances were Katusha and Garmin-Sharp. Weather slowed the Russian squad, which finished 19 th at 1:33. According to Katusha directeur sportif Jose Azevedo, “This wasn’t what we expected. We lost a lot of time to Cadel Evans and Rigoberto Uran, “Just one minute before our start time it