Four riders in the top-20 for Blanco in Giro ITT
The Giro d'Italia Stage 8 individual time trial proved to be a good day for the Blanco team, with four riders placing inside the top-20, led by Stef Clement in fifth place 32 seconds off the pace of Alex Dowsett (Movistar).
Meantime, Robert Gesink moved into third overall with his effort, now 1:15 behind GC leader Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) as the Giro moves into a fascinating second week of racing. Young gun Wilco Kelderman was 35 seconds behind Gesink in 14th place while Juan Manuel Garate was 19th for the day.
Sports director Jan Boven was not giving too much away, despite the results.
"It was another good day", he said. "Every day is important in a Grand Tour but this one a little more so. In the time trial it is about minutes and seconds and then you simply have to be at your best and that we were today. We actually did better than we even hoped for. Today is a good close to the first week but we can't forget that there are two more weeks to go. We have to stay sharp. Our goals have been set for a three week tour."
Clement was able to overcome a missed turn early on in the 54.8km chrono, when he had wanted to overtake another rider on the road. It contributed to him being unaware that his time was as good as it was.
"From there on I was a bundle of nerves on the bike," the 30-year-old explained. "That also affected my descent. On top of that, it's not easy to stay balanced and spread your energy effectively over 55 kilometers. But I am well pleased with this fifth place result."
Gesink, while pleased with his performance and his third place overall, will be taking nothing for granted.
"A time trial such as this is always brutal but I think I can be very pleased with the result," the Dutchman explained. "It felt good right from the start and I was able to maintain my revolutions at a good pace. The first week has gone well. We've been up front as a team at the right moments and like the rest of the lads, I am in good form. In a Grand Tour, I take it day by day. For the moment, it's going well and I hope it stays that way.
Kelderman now holds a 43 second lead in the young rider classification, having moved into the maglia bianco ahead of Rafal Majka (Saxo - Tinkoff). The stage was not all plain sailing for the 22-year-old who crashed following an issue with a rear wheel.
"To wear the white jersey in my first Grand Tour is super. After I took the youth classification in the Tour of Romandy, I harbored the idea that I might repeat it here, but to actually do it is very cool. For the time being, I am focused on supporting Robert and time will tell if I can hold on to the jersey."