For the second year running, world time trial champion Filippo Ganna earned the first pink jersey of the Giro d’Italia after winning Sunday’s opening race against the clock, the first of two chronos that bookend the season’s first Grand Tour. Ganna took all three time trials in the 2020 edition. Among the GC favourites, João Almeida, Remco Evenepoel and Alexandr Vlasov posted the fastest times, while Marc Soler, Mikel Landa and Dan Martin had the slowest.
Turin’s 8.6-km opener was fairly flat along the banks of the Po River with few corners.
The lead changed hands several times early in the stage. Victor Campenaerts (Belgium/Qhubeka-Assos) didn’t have a good chrono, posting only a 9:19. LL Sanchez (Spain/Astana-Premier Tech) barely avoided a crash after a rear tire blowout and had to ride his road bike for the rest of the course.
Sanchez’s Russian teammate Alexandr Vlasov was the first GC heavy hitter to roll. The Shark, Vincenzo Nibali, three weeks off a wrist broken in training, followed Vlasov. The Russian was only 2 seconds behind the time of the man in the hot seat, Matthias Brändle (Austria/Israel Start-up Nation).
Remi Cavagna was an expected winner of Sunday’s stage, having earned the final time trial victory at the Tour de Romandie. By the time the Frenchman started, Tobias Foss (Norway/Jumbo-Visma) held the best time of 9:00. Cavagna was fourth best at the intermediate time check and five seconds down at the line.
Italian Eduardo Affini bumped his teammate Foss off the hot seat with 8:57.
Lone Canadian entrant Antoine Duchesne posted 9:45.
GC favourites Egan Bernal and Simon Yates left the start house one after the other, with João Almeida just ahead of them. At the intermediate check point, Almeida was sixth fastest, Bernal 30th and Yates 37th. Almeida ended up with 9:04, Bernal with 9:26 and Yates with 9:25.
Everyone was waiting for Remco Evenepoel’s performance with bated breath. He hadn’t raced in 266 days after crashing off a bridge in the 2020 Il Lombardia. Amazingly, he was still one of the GC favourites, and the 21 year old placed seventh.
— Deceuninck-QuickStep (@deceuninck_qst) May 8, 2021
Could world champ Filippo Ganna eclipse his compatriot Affini? He had the top intermediate time with 3:59 and then beat Affini’s time by 10 seconds. Affini and Foss retained their podium spots on the day.
Sunday is the first of five 2021 Giro sprinter’s stages.
2021 Giro d’Italia Stage 1
1) Filippo Ganna (Italy/Ineos Grenadiers) 8:48
2) Eduardo Affini (Italy/Jumbo-Visma) +0:10
3) Tobias Foss (Norway/Jumbo-Visma) +0:12
110) Antoine Duchesne (Canada/Groupama-FDJ) +0:57