Vincenzo Nibali warmed down after the team time trial of stage three of the 2018 Tour de France and looked at the standings. “It could have gone worse” for him in the team time trial with Bahrain-Merida, he said, after losing about one minute to Team Sky and BMC Racing.
Richie Porte made gains with BMC Racing going best, they won the stage to put Greg Van Avermaet in the yellow jersey. Sky finished second at four seconds with Geraint Thomas and Chris Froome.
“We didn’t go super strong, we were only four [riders] in the final kilometres,” Nibali said. “We tried to do the best we could. We are not great specialists in time trials,” he continued.
“Maybe it could have gone worse for us, but we tried to save the time that we could save.”
Mitchelton-Scott with Adam Yates lost nine seconds while Team Sunweb lost 11 seconds to BMC.
Nibali’s team, sponsored in part by the Island state of Bahrain, was in the vicinity with Jakob Fuglsang (Astana), Ilnur Zakarin (Katusha-Alpecin), Movistar’s Mikel Landa, Alejandro Valverde and Nairo Quintana.
Romain Bardet (Ag2r La Mondiale) and Daniel Martin (UAE Team Emirates) with their teams were behind Nibali.
“In a big stage race, you see many times that you need patience all the way until the end because you don’t know what will happen,” Nibali explained.
The 33-year-old has won the Giro d’Italia twice, the Vuelta a España and of course the Tour in 2014. The Sicilian has experience in Grand Tours, especially knowing not to lose his head only three days in to the three-week race.
“You have to live it day by day. Look at the Giro d’Italia, it changed quickly. Also in the other Giro editions beforehand,” Nibali said.
“This Tour is a hard one, there are many riders here aiming for the overall and something changes every day.”
The eight Bahrain riders arrived to the bus with their heads down. The team were not happy that Heinrich Haussler and Kristjan Koren lost pace so early into the 35.5-kilometre stage.
Also, Nibali could have managed his strength better in the final kilometres. He was pushing so hard that he was dropping his remaining team-mates on the final climbs into the town.
“For sure, Koren and Haussler could have done much more, and I don’t want to say anything bad about it, but we were in six early on… and then four…
“When you are in four, it can dangerous because you have a mechanical or a flat, it all becomes so much more complicated and you have to wait for the fourth man. These team time trials are hard to read, especially today, because in some points where we going 80kph, so it wasn’t easy to manage a rhythm that was so high.”
Nibali rolled home at 1-06 minutes behind BMC Racing with a skeleton crew of four that included the Izagirre brothers Gorka and Ion and Domenico Pozzovivo – all small mountain men and not big time trial motors.
“We said early on that a one-minute lose would be the worst case,” sports director Paolo Slongo said. “We are there in the range that we thought we would be in. We are satisfied.
“It wasn’t an off day, but we just limited the losses and that was limited for those riders.”