Orica-GreenEdge won the opening team time trial of the 2014 Giro d’Italia in Belfast on Friday, putting Svein Tuft in the pink jersey.
Turning 37 today, Tuft’s teammates granted him the touching gift of electing him to cross the line first, and thus taking the jersey.
There was disappointment for the home crowd however, as Dan Martin (Garmin) crashed dramatically and was forced to abandon. In a seemingly innocuous road, the crash was eerily reminiscent of the one Martin suffered in the run in to Liege, and the Irishman will be berating his frustrating run of misfortune.
Three teammates were also felled and Garmin’s time was greatly affected, finishing 3-26 down. Ryder Hesjedal’s GC hopes already seem to be in tatters.
The other favourites all finished relatively close together, apart from Rigoberto Uran (Omega Pharma-QuickStep) and Cadel Evans (BMC Racing), whose teams finished second and third respectively. Another big loser was Joaquim Rodriguez, whose Katusha team could only manage 19th place, meaning he drops around a minute and a half to Uran and Evans, and half a minute to Nairo Quintana (Movistar) and Domenico Pozzovivo (Ag2r).
The weather played a big hand in how the race unfolded, with Orica benefiting from being one of the first out, and therefore avoiding the wet conditions. Omega Pharma-Quick Step and BMC were one of the last out, suggesting that either could have won had the rain stayed clear.
Despite also having to face the rain, Team Sky produced a decent display to finish fifth at 35 seconds down, thanks to an excellent second half of the course.
With a series of flat stages to come, Orica will be hoping to retain the jersey for a while, though the jersey may pass from Tuft to sprinter Michael Matthews, if the Australian can gain any bonus seconds from finishing in the top three.
Saturday’s stage two also starts and finishes in Belfast, taking in 219 kilometres. Giro d’Italia 2014 stage two full preview >>
Giro d’Italia 2014, stage one: Belfast TTT 21.7km
1. Orica-GreenEdge (Aus) in 24-42
2. Omega Pharma-QuickStep (Bel) at 0-05
3. BMC Racing (Swi) at 0-07
4. Tinkoff-Saxo (Den) at 0-23
5. Sky (GBr) at 0-35
6. Astana (Kaz) at 0-38
7. Cannondale (Ita) at 0-53
8. Movistar (Spa) at 0-55
9. Giant Shimano (Ned) at 0-56
10. Ag2r-La Mondiale (Fra) at 0-58
Overall classification after stage one
1. Svein Tuft (Can) Orica-GreenEdge in 24-02
2. Luke Durbridge (Aus) Orica-GreenEdge
3. Pieter Weening (Ned) Orica-GreenEdge
4. Cameron Meyer (Aus) Orica-GreenEdge
5. Michael Matthews (Aus) Orica-GreenEdge
6. Ian Santaromita (Ita) Orica-GreenEdge all st
7. Pieter Serry (Bel) Omega Pharma-QuickStep
8. Gianluca Brambilla (Ita) Omega Pharma-QuickStep
9. Rigoburto Uran (Col) Omega Pharma-QuickStep
10. Serge Pauwels (Bel) Omega Pharma-QuickStep
Irishman Daniel Martin out of Giro d'Italia with suspected broken collarbone after falling in Belfast team time trial