Cancellara’s pink jersey ambitions fade away
It’s quite sad to see, but none of Fabian Cancellara’s final season goals seem to be coming off for him.
He couldn’t follow Peter Sagan‘s remarkable attack at the Tour of Flanders, he crashed at Paris-Roubaix and now illness may have cost him the chance to wear the pink jersey at the Giro d’Italia.
We can’t say for sure just how much the fever the Swiss rider was laid low with on Thursday played into his below-par time trial, but a fully-fit Cancellara would have expected to be less than 14 seconds down on stage winner Tom Dumoulin.
Now, even if Cancellara can get on the podium in the next two stages he can’t realistically get enough bonus seconds to pull on the maglia rosa before we head to Italy, meaning his chances of wearing it at all are slim at best.
Advantage Nibali in the fight for pink
The riders were only competing over 10km, but that was enough time for some time gaps to open up among the big name riders who will be fighting for the pink jersey in three weeks time.
The margin between Valverde and Landa seems already sizeable – the Team Sky rider sits 16 seconds back on Valverde; 21 down on Nibali. That will take some fighting for in the mountain stages, but it’s by no means insurmountable.
The worry for Landa based on this performance will be how much time he loses to that pair in the Chianti time trial on stage nine.
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The course played tougher than it looked
A 10km pan-flat stage…how hard can it be?
Well, by looking at the top 10 and judging by the crashes we saw along the route it was a lot tougher than it looked on paper.
Two of the pre-stage favourites – Jos van Emden and Stefan Küng – slipped out on the same corner, ending their chances of a good time.
If we had tried to predict the top five before the stage, Dumoulin’s name would probably have been the only one we would have got right.
Primož Roglič (LottoNL-Jumbo), Tobias Ludvigsson (Giant-Alpecin) and Andrey Amador (Movistar) aren’t exactly in the who’s who of time trialling, but all put in great performances ahead of more reknowned time triallists.
Marcel Kittel could be wearing pink when the race reaches Italy
The fifth place rider in the general classification overnight is Marcel Kittel (Etixx-Quick Step)…who would have predicted that?
Sure, the German is a solid time triallist, especially in these short efforts, but beating the likes of Bob Jungels, Cancellara and Matthias Brändle? That’s an incredible effort.
Kittel had a little carrot to chase, though, with the possibility of taking the pink jersey on stage two or three if he managed to get close enough to the leaders on stage one.
Well, mission accomplished for Marcel. All he’s got to do now is win one stage and come in the top three in another and he’ll get enough bonus seconds to leapfrog Dumoulin (assuming my maths is correct).
That means, when the race gets back to Italy on Tuesday, Kittel could be in pink. And remember, Kittel has never not won a sprint stage he’s started at the Giro. In 2014 he won both stages two and three (after a TTT) and then didn’t start stage four.
Marcel Kittel doesn’t fear anyone at the Giro d’Italia
Giant-Alpecin’s season is back on track
Dumoulin came to the Giro with the hope of winning two of the three time trials and he’s accomplished half of that goal. With this win comes the maglia rosa, which Dumoulin will have loved picking up in front of his home fans in the Netherlands.
This was also Giant’s first win of the season, having seen their spring squads decimated by the collision with a car in January.
Outside of Dumoulin’s effort, though, the German-registered team scored three more riders in the top 15 riders, with Ludvigsson (fourth), Chad Haga (12th) and Georg Preidler (13th) also putting in great rides.
As mentioned above, Dumoulin could lose the pink jersey on Sunday, but wearing it for two days will sure please the sponsors, with further stage wins a possibility later in the race.