Tyler Farrar (Garmin-Transitions) celebrated his stage victory with his arms in the air long after he crossed the line, his emotions and intense satisfaction confirming the importance of his success.
He crashed hard with 50km to go but got back up, suffered, chased hard and was rewarded with his first ever stage victory in the Giro d'Italia.
The narrow, dangerous roads turned the 210km stage into a battle of survival but Garmin-Transitions handled the dangerous roads better than most and Farrar took advantage of an excellent lead out from Murilo Fischer, David Millar, and Julian Dean.
Other teams' hopes for victory were wrecked by crashes but Farrar's first victory indicates that Garmin-Transitions could be the team to beat in this year's sprints at the Giro.
"It’s fantastic to have won. It's certainly one of the special ones. Last year was a breakthrough year winning what I did. To win the first sprint is nice. It takes some pressure off for the rest of the race,” Farrar said in the stage winner's press conference.
“The team were fantastic. I couldn't have asked for a better delivery to the line. We've said since the beginning of the season that we're putting a lot of effort into beefing up our lead-out and you saw today it has paid off. Sutton (Team Sky) tried to jump us into the last turn but Jules (Dean) did a fantastic job closing the gap and gave me a clean tow to the line.”
Farrar has confirmed yet again that he is one of the best sprinters in the world. He was beaten by Mark Cavendish numerous times in last year's Giro d'Italia and Tour de France but has clearly improved this season.
"I think my season so far is a continuation of the progression I made over the course of last season. I had a good winter with no problems,” he said.
“I put a lot of focus on the spring Classics and that was a fairly successful campaign for me. I'm really happy with how that went and this is next objective for the year and it’s off to a good start as well.”
"I was close (to Cavendish) last year and as I said, we've put a lot effort into our lead out at Garmin-Transitions and we're trying to build one of strongest lead out teams in world. We haven't had many chances this year to work on it. This was the first time we've even tried a lead out for a few months but the guys were perfect. I think it's a good sign of things to come at the rest of the Giro, the Tour and beyond.”
Farrar crashed heavily 50km from the finish but fought the pain, knowing he could win.
"There was bump in the road. I didn’t see it and the next thing I knew, I was on the ground. Luckily I was not too seriously hurt. I lost some skin but nothing worse. It was bad luck but it was okay in the end,” he said.
“It's never ideal to fall in a race, especially when you're starting to go fast like today. Doubts go through your mind. But when your team is fully committed, and I had four riders waiting for me when I fell and then still had Dave (Millar), Murilo (Fischer) and Jules (Dean) fully committed for the sprint, I had to try. It hurts a little bit when you crash and it's easy to say you're not going to sprint but there are only so many opportunities in this Giro and when the team is going as well as they are, you've got to take those opportunities.”