Tao Geoghegan Hart (Team Ineos) has described the first stage of the Giro d’Italia 2019 as similar to “being hit by a big hammer” as the Brit posted an impressive time on the opening time trial of the Grand Tour.
One of the first riders to set off, Geoghegan Hart rode the 8.2km course in 13-29, only 35 seconds off the stage winner Primož Roglič (Jumbo-Visma), a time which saw the Brit finish in seventh place.
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The course featured 6km of flat, with 2km of climbing up to San Luca to the finish line, with a number of riders electing to switch bikes just before the gradient increased.
Despite his strong performance, Geoghegan said post-race that it wasn’t as easy as he had maybe made it look: “I felt so, so good and then all of a sudden the devil came and hit me with a big hammer!
“I felt super good until the last 500 metres and I paid a little bit there – I was going backwards,” he added after the opening time trial. “I think you’ll hear a lot of people say that today. Why not go big and give it a try?
“I felt good which is the main thing, I was maybe a little bit too keen on the first part of the second steep bit.”
Starting only his second ever Grand Tour, Geoghegan Hart is an outside favourite to take overall victory, as he lines up alongside a young Team Ineos squad, with Geraint Thomas and Chris Froome both electing to focus on the Tour de France in July.
After Egan Bernal, who crashed in a training ride, and Gianni Moscon, deemed to not be in good enough form, were ruled out of participating in the Giro, Geoghegan Hart lines up alongside Pavel Sivakov, who won the Tour of the Alps last month, with the British team expected to hunt for stage wins.
Primož Roglič posted an impressive time of 12-54 on the short time trial course, with Simon Yates (Mitchelton-Scott) taking second at 19 seconds, Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain-Merida) third, 23 seconds down, followed by Miguel Ángel López (Astana) and Tom Dumoulin (Sunweb) 28 seconds back.