Giro d'Italia: Analysing the opening stages

Three days into the Giro d'Italia and three different race leaders already. That sums up what the first few stages are like in any Giro. Hectic.

I doubt any of the riders would have been sorry to leave Naples after the opening kermesse and then the team time trial the next day. The 130 kilometres in the shadows of Vesuvius would have been a lesson in pot hole dodging and not much time to enjoy the scenery. 'See Naples and die,' I don't think so.

No real surprise to see the world's best sprinter Mark Cavendish win the sprint after a very nervous finale, and get his hands on one of those Paul Smith designed pink jerseys. I don't know why Viviani was banging his bars after the finish, no-one annoyed him or got in his way, he got out dragged by Cavendish and that was that. Maybe he wanted a bit of Brit-style too but if he keeps up the dramatics all he'll be getting is a pair of petrol station sunglasses.

The Omega squad would have been disappointed to not keep the race lead after the brief visit to Ischia, you would have thought all those corners would have been good for the Belgians but the ferry couldn't have been their thing. I doubt it was anybody else's idea of a day trip either, not with that technical course. Mickey and mouse would have been the description if it had rained. Sky didn't seem to mind and they put Wiggins right were he wanted to be, at the front but not leading. The script was being apparently followed.

Back on the mainland for the first proper stage and things became more interesting, after the early escape was reeled in defending champion Ryder Hesjedal showed he was unhappy with the losses he has accumulated so far and decided to do a bit of probing on the last hill of the day. No panic for Nibali, who was paying attention and could see what was happening without really committing himself.

Bradley Wiggins let himself lose sight of the front for a few minutes and Astana would have noticed that. Temporary lapse, tactics or bluffing from Sky? Probably just the first guess but you get the feeling that Nibali will pounce on any error or hesitation from Wiggins.

Bit of a crash fest that descent into Marina di Ascea, with Gesink , various Colombians and surprisingly Scarponi all earning a few more scars. There were memories of the Poggio going on so maybe Hesjedal was right to push after all, because if you are going to fall off it may as well be your own fault.

Katusha sans Rodriguez will have wanted to keep Paolini in the leader's jersey for as long as possible but realistically it's a very long day with the mountains being harder and no downhill to speak of at the finish so there ought to be a new recipient of the maglia rosa after stage four. It could be Wiggins, sitting there in second place looking cool. Given there are two flat stages and one lumpy day to come before the long time trial he'll want to start that knowing what the other favourites are doing but I suspect the Italians might have something to say about that plan first.



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