Remco Evenepoel won the first stage of the Giro d’Italia on Saturday, speeding over the 19.6km run along the Adriatic coast in 21min 18sec and leaving key rival Primoz Roglic 43 seconds adrift in sixth.
Italy’s Filippo Ganna was second at 22sec and Joao Almeida of Portugal was third at 29sec on the long straight route that rarely left the shoreline on the first of 21 stages in the three-week race.
The 23-year-old Soudal-Quick Step rider Evenepoel opted to ride the Giro rather that the Tour de France as it features three individual time-trials at which he excels.
Setting off in his Belgian national time-trial champion’s shirt, the world road race and Vuelta a Espana winner did most of the damage in the first 10km.
Ineos rider Tao Geoghegan Hart, the 2020 Giro champion, set a better-than-expected time on the sun-kissed course, some 40sec down in fourth.
His teammate Geraint Thomas, the 2018 Tour de France champion, also did well with a respectable ninth just 55sec off Evenepoel’s blistering 56kph effort.
“I said on the bus that I thought it would need 21min 30sec to win, and in the end it was 21:18 so I was quite close to my guess,” said Evenepoel.
“I felt from the start in a good rhythm, always the same gear.
“I’m not really focusing on the time gaps. I just wanted to try to win the stage and in the end we won it, so mission one accomplished.”
On the winner’s podium, Evenepoel looked toned and happy with a short-back-and-sides haircut and his world champion’s rainbow jersey, over which he pulled the Giro’s iconic leader’s pink jersey.
Taking the overall lead so early in the race carries aprice as the pink-jersey wearer is obliged to spend up to an hour after the race giving interviews.
The now 33-year-old Roglic not only lost 43sec on the day, he also lost four Jumbo-Visma teammates in the run up to the start, three to Covid-19 and Jan Tratnik to a fall.
The Giro winds up on May 28 in Rome with the penultimate stage another individual time-trial up a mountainside.
Stage two is a largely flat run over 201km from Teramo to San Salvo, with the first of the fearsome mountain stages where Roglic may excel on Friday.
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