As the sun set over Sanremo and the dust settled on the opening team time trial of the Giro d’Italia, the overall classification and the fight for the final maglia rosa in Milan has already seen a first shake out. After any race of truth, there are always winners and losers, even if the time gaps are, for now, only a few but still precious seconds.
Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo), Fabio Aru (Astana) and Rigoberto Uran (Etixx-QuickStep) could all smile after the stage, happy to have gained a few seconds on Richie Porte (Team Sky). Tinkoff-Saxo showed their intentions with second place behind Orica-GreenEdge and left Contador in tenth place, seven seconds from the maglia rosa.
Aru and Astana rode better than expected, limiting their losses to Contador to just six seconds. Uran was not too far behind and is 12 seconds down on Contador after Etixx-QuickStep finished fourth. Porte lost the most of the big four contenders, giving up 20 seconds to Contador. He lost 14 to Aru and eight seconds to Uran.
Other, time loss victims included Jurgen van den Broeck (Lotto Soudal), who lost 22 seconds to Contador. Domenico Pozzovivo (Ag2r-La Mondiale) and Ryder Hesjedal (Cannondale-Garmin) slipped onto page two of the first overall classification due to losing close to a minute.
AG2R La Mondiale finished the stage in 16th place, 48 seconds slower than Orica-GreenEdge, while Cannondale-Garmin was 19th of the 22 teams in the race, at 53 seconds. Hesjedal will start stage two of the Giro d’Italia with a 46 second handicap to Contador.
Astana started the team time trial early and enjoyed a long spell in the hot seat after setting the fastest time until Orica-GreenEdge came in. Fabio Aru was proud of his teammates.
“I was optimistic we'd do well. This shows we’ve got a good, strong and special team. I hadn’t raced in Catalunya and had been ill, but I feel good, especially after this ride,” Aru said when interviewed by Italian RAI television.
“The guys showed they were on form in the Giro del Trentino and were a perfect mix of young and experienced riders and can aim high. However it’s only the first stage, there are still 20 more to race. We’re going to stay focused for the next three weeks. It’s going to be intense and emotional but I can’t wait.”
Rigoberto Uran and his Etixx-Quickstep teammates rode back to their hotel after the ride, satisfied with their performance.
"I think it was a nice day for us. We did a good team time trial,” Uran said, fielding several questions from the Colombian media at the Giro d’Italia who want to see if he can step up from his second place overall in 2013 and 2014.
“It was a bit more windy than yesterday (Friday), and that made the course even harder. It would have been difficult to win today because there are teams like Orica-GreenEdge that are more structured in the 2015 Giro for this kind of effort. But we are happy. We prepared well for this race and we can't complain about a fourth place finish.”
Like many in the peloton, Uran is looking forward to finally starting the road race stages on Sunday.
“Starting tomorrow it is basically a whole new race,” he suggested. “It will be a difficult first week including a difficult third stage in the hills and even an uphill finish on the fifth stage. But what we learned from the last Giro d'Italia is that everyday something can happen. We will do our best and look forward to the next days."