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.
The 24-year-old 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.
On his first Grand Tour former track specialist Ganna was the man to beat Saturday after winning the individual world time-trial title a week ago.
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.
Still wearing his rainbow time-trial winner’s shirt the 193cm (6ft 4in) 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 20sec ahead of Steven Kruijswijk of Jumbo-Visma and Jakob Fuglsang of Astana.
Under overcast skies with wind scattering leaves across the sometimes less than perfect road surfaces Colombian Miguel Angel Lopez hit a bump and flew sideways crashing straight through metal barriers and into a shop front before being taken away in an ambulance.
Sicily stepped in to host the first four days of the Giro after original hosts Budapest pulled out when the coronavirus crisis exploded in March.