Nippo-Vini Fantini rider Hiroki Nishimura earned the dubious honour of being the first rider to leave the Giro d’Italia after he missed the time cut on the opening stage. Nishimura finished the eight-kilometre time trial 4:36 behind the stage winner Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma) and more than a minute behind the next best rider.
There were reports that Nishimura suffered a mechanical issue on the climb, but that appears to have been his teammate and compatriot Sho Hatsuyama – who finished close to two minutes quicker than Nishimura.
Instead, Nippo-Vini Fantini implies that the excitement of making his Grand Tour debut got to Nishimura. The 24-year-old from Kyōgoku in Japan is just in his second season with the Pro Continental team and struggled to sleep on the eve of his first Giro d’Italia appearance.
“Nishimura paid the big tension for this big and unique event,” the team wrote in a brief statement on their Facebook page. “He was involved in Giro because he is a young rider that would grow well thanks to experiences in big races, unfortunately, he was too nervous for the event, he had a bad night without sleeping and during the race - a short and explosive chrono - he wasn’t able to be competitive.”
The opening time trial was a tricky affair with a flat first section followed by a very steep two-kilometre climb towards the finish line. There were some that chose to switch bikes between the two terrains, but most opted to ride the full eight kilometres on their time trial bikes. Roglic dominated the stage, winning with a time of 12:54, with Simon Yates (Mitchelton-Scott) in second place at 19 seconds back.
Nishimura was one of the earlier riders to set their time, starting between Richard Carapaz (Movistar) and Mattia Cattaneo (Androni-Giocattoli). Roglic had already completed his run by the time Nishimura rolled down the start ramp, so it was clear early on that he would not make the cut. Organisers can choose to overrule the time cut in exceptional circumstances, though it does not appear that they will do that in this case.