Astana's veteran Paolo Tiralongo announced at the start of the Giro d'Italia that it would be his final year in the peloton. The 39-year-old has won three stages of the Giro during his career, but is best known as a super domestique who helped Alberto Contador win the Tour de France in 2010 (although his title was subsequently stripped).
"Yes, this will be my last Giro, my thirteenth and last," Tiralongo said.
"I imagined another race since I've started my preparation for it on last winter, then many things happened, first with the Fabio [Aru]'s injury, then with the tragedy happened to our teammate Michele Scarponi," he added. "but life goes on and me and my seven teammates we are here to honour Michele's memory and try to win as more stages as possible."
"We prepared this Giro very well and I'm sure we have everything necessary to play our cards in several stages, one could be even tomorrow with its nervous final… it isn't easy at all for no one but we are strong and we can do it!"
Tiralongo's last personal victory came on stage 9 of the 2015 Giro d'Italia in San Giorgio del Sannio where he skipped away from the peloton with a late attack.
Paolo Tiralongo of Astana (Bettini)
Dillier grazed in opening stage crash
The opening stage of the Giro d'Italia started out straightforward, but a series of rapid-fire, narrow turns took its toll on a number of riders, including BMC's Silvan Dillier. The team's GC leaders came away unscathed, however, according to DS Max Sciandri.
"It was a good stage. I keep saying that islands are dangerous. They're windy, the roads are all over the place. Tejay van Garderen and Rohan Dennis were good. Silvan Dillier had a crash but he looks OK. But in general, everyone looked good and it is nice to get things started."
Team doctor Giovanni Ruffini said Dillier was not seriously hurt. "Silvan Dillier was involved in a crash in the closing kilometers but was fortunately able to finish the race," he said in a team press release. "First inspection on the bus after the stage showed nothing serous, just some superficial abrasions. We will take a closer look at the hotel tonight but Silvan is lucky to escape with no serious injuries."
Nizzolo still underdone
Italian national champion Giacomo Nizzolo came into the Giro d'Italia with just the six stages of racing at the Tour of Croatia in his legs. While the Trek-Segafredo rider was the best of the Italian's on stage 1, the national champion could only manage fourth place in Olbia.
"It was a surprising ending, but sometimes with a lot of corners this can happen and today that was the case," said Nizzolo of the outcome. "There was nothing that didn't work; the team came to collect me, and I was in good position for the finale. It was a very technical finish and not having fantastic condition I knew I had to take advantage of the others' slipstreams and that's what I did. I don't think I made any mistakes, I just didn't have the legs. In these technical finishes, you have to make sure you are well positioned; I was there, but I am still lacking a little bit of condition."
While Lukas Pöstlberger was off the front of the peloton, making his way to the upset stage win, Nizzolo added that he could not fault the effort and plan of his Trek-Segafredo teammates to try for the win.
"Obviously, when there's the ability of winning the maglia rosa, you aim for it, and you give it everything you can. Technically I didn't get anything wrong. I am satisfied with today, and I hope my condition improves day by day. It's not easy to go from the level I have to my very best, but I will try and stay calm and see if I can win something later in the race," added the winner of the Giro points classification for the last two years.
With stage 2 expected to be a day for the puncheurs, Nizzolo will be aiming to contest the more sprint friendly stages to come in the first week.
Bauhaus promising in top 10
The top-ten on stage 1 of the Giro d'Italia was packed with rides making their debut at the race, most notably upset stage winner Lukas Pöstlberger. For Phil Bauhaus, the stage was his first day of racing since a DNF at Scheldeprijs last month with the German able to open his legs and test himself against his sprint rivals, crossing the line in tenth place.
"Throughout the whole day we were focused on staying close to Tom and protecting him. I stayed with Tom until 3.5 kilometres to the finish then I stayed on Gaviria's wheel. He left a gap and I ended up in the wind too early. 10th place at my first Grand Tour stage is something to be happy with, especially considering my crash and injury in April," said the 22-year-old.
Bauhaus started his season at the Tour Down Under where he failed to finish inside the top 100 on any of the six stages. He turned things around at the Abu Dhabi Tour with a top five result before notching fourth at Danilith - Nokere Koerse. Ninth place on stage 1 of Volta Ciclista a Catalunya suggested he was back on track and approaching the level that has already seen him take four professional wins.
For team coach Aike Visbeek, stage 1 didn't provide any visits to the podium but he was nevertheless pleased by what we saw and that none of his riders suffered misfortune in a hectic finale.
"It was a good day for us. Every time that it was important for them to be at the front, the guys were there. The most important thing was for the team to stay out of trouble inside the final 3.5 kilometres and they did great. Phil was a little bit unlucky inside the last kilometre but it was for him to still be up there after the last climb. It’s been a good start to the first Grand Tour of the season and all of the guys have great focus," said Visbeek.
Giro d'Italia 2017 Stage 1 highlights video
Lukas Pöstlberger upset the applecart on the opening day of the Giro d'Italia, jumping away from the hard-charing peloton in the closing kilometres to steal the win from the sprinters in Olbia. With his first professional win, the 25-year-old became the first Austrian to win a stage and wear the maglia rosa at the Italian Grand Tour.
Watch the stage 1 highlights below to see what led up to Pöstlberger's history-making ride, then enjoy the moment with him as he celebrates his incredible accomplishment.