Team Ineos' Tao Geoghegan Hart was the British WorldTour team's best-placed finisher on the opening time trial stage of the 2019 Giro d'Italia, which got under way in Bologna on Saturday, taking seventh place, 35 seconds down on stage winner Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma).
With Egan Bernal having had to forfeit the Giro following a training crash just a week before the start of the Italian Grand Tour, the team formerly known as Team Sky was forced to send a largely inexperienced squad to the race, with 24-year-old Geoghegan Hart and recent Tour of the Alps winner, 21-year-old Russian Pavel Sivakov, the two riders most likely to perform in the mountains, and therefore the team's best hopes for the general classification, despite their youth.
Ahead of the race, team manager Dave Brailsford reiterated that the two youngsters would be free to enjoy their Giro without now needing to work for a GC contender, and without any pressure on either of them to perform.
"They're young, for sure, but I think the expectation is to have fun. There's no expectation but to try to learn," said Brailsford.
Geoghegan Hart rode to seventh place, 35 seconds behind stage winner Roglic, on the opening stage, which featured a 2km climb up to the finish of the 8.2km test against the clock.
"I felt super good until the last 500 metres, and I paid a little bit there – I was going backwards. I think you'll hear a lot of people say that today. But why not go big and give it a try?" Geoghegan Hart said on his team's website after his ride.
"It was hard to pace, but, equally, you're always going to try harder on the steeper bits," the Londoner added. "I felt so, so good, and then all of a sudden the devil came and hit me with a big hammer! I felt good, which is the main thing, but I was maybe a little bit too keen on the first part of the second steep bit."
Sivakov finished in 28th position, 26 seconds behind Geoghegan Hart, and just over a minute down on Roglic, while Bernal's late replacement, Irishman Eddie Dunbar, was the team's third best-placed rider, finishing 42nd, 1:14 down on the stage winner.