Simon Yates has not won many time trials. Before Saturday he had only ever won one before, a stage of Paris-Nice in 2019. However, if a time trial was to suit the BikeExchange-Jayco rider, it was to be stage two of the Giro d'Italia.
The course was just 9.2km long and had a punchy finish, meaning it would not necessarily favour the flat-track rouleur bullies, so Yates could make his mark.
However, even the Briton himself described his win as a "bit unexpected". Not only was he the fastest across the whole course, he was fastest on the flat section too.
Yates does have a tiny bit of form on Giro opening time trials, finishing second on stage one of the 2019 edition, which was a punchy effort against the clock in Bologna. Even then, few expected him to make the difference.
Speaking shortly after his win, which elevated him to second on general classification, Yates said it was "my best" performance.
"I’m of course really happy," he said. "A bit unexpected, but I’ll take them as they come.
"I just tried to go as fast as possible. I want to thank our partners Giant and Cadex who have put a lot of work into our equipment this year."
Yates triumphed over established time trial specialists like Tom Dumoulin, Edoardo Affini and João Almeida. However, his period in the hot seat was not a comfortable one, and he still had to watch riders like Mathieu van der Poel, Wilco Kelderman and Ben Tulett come close
"I was never confident there," he explained. "Van der Poel was pretty close as well. You always have that belief you could win and in the end I managed to hold on."
The Dutchman was so close, in fact, that he managed to hold onto the maglia rosa for the second day running; he finished just three seconds behind Yates. Not that the BikeExchange rider minds too much, as his goals are further down the road. It's almost a bonus that he won a stage so early in the race.
"Today was a 12 minute effort, we still have some much more demanding stages in front of us," Yates said. "Of course we’ll celebrate today. One of two time trials that I’ve ever won, my first in the grand tour. We’ll look at the bigger picture now."
As the mountains loom, he has put himself in an excellent position in the general classification, already 24 seconds ahead of a rival as big as Richard Carapaz. Unexpected maybe, but a sign of form, and a very useful start to the race.
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