The BMC Racing team celebrated a third consecutive victory in the opening team time trial at Tirreno-Adriatico, with riders cheering loudly inside the team bus when Team Sunweb failed to beat their time of 22:19.
BMC changed three riders in their seven-rider squad compared to 2017, when they beat Quick-Step Floors by 17 seconds. This time they were only four seconds faster than Mitchelton-Scott. Team Sky had set the fastest time after starting second but eventually finished third at 10 seconds.
Team Sky had Chris Froome, Jonathan Castroviejo, Vasil Kiryienka, Geraint Thomas and Gianni Moscon in their seven-rider squad. BMC used their power of Rohan Dennis, Stefan Küng, Patrick Bevin and Michael Schar combined with their strength and well-drilled teamwork.
"Our secret is 62, that's the speed we had," directeur sportif Max Sciandri joked, happy to win again. BMC's average was actually 57.777km/h. They were a little faster in 2017, with a speed of 58.329 km/h.
"It's about work; it's about coordination, it's not about a single individual," Sciandri explained. "It’s a team event, and it's all these little details being together and brought on the road. Anything can go wrong, and so we do the two days training for this event, and today we got it and we got it good."
Damiano Caruso was the first rider to cross the finish line for BMC after Dennis did a huge final turn. In the absence of Richie Porte, who fell ill after the Volta ao Algarve, the Italian is the designated team leader, with Dennis as a possible alternative.
Caruso also pulled on the first blue jersey in 2017. He lost it the next day but is more ambitious this year.
"I wasn't the leader last year, and I'll have more space, so it'll be more interesting for me. It'll be hard to defend the jersey because we've got some hard stages ahead of us. I'd be happy to finish in the top 10," Caruso said, admitting a top-10 finish is a modest goal for BMC and for a rider who finished second overall at the 2017 Tour de Suisse.
"I like to fly low," he said. "I know I'm going well but it's also true that lots of big-name riders are here. I don't want to put too much pressure on myself. The team has put their trust in me and so well see how it goes. A lot of things can happen at Tirreno-Adriatico."
Caruso knows that his overall hopes have to work with Greg Van Avermaet's goals of winning one of the hilly stages.
"We hope to win with Greg in Trevi," he explained. "I'm here to help him but also do as well as possible. Richie Porte fell ill, and so I took over team leader.
"I think this year's Tirreno-Adriatico is harder than in recent years, even if it's the riders that always make the race. We've looked at the Trevi finish on Google maps, and they're narrow, nasty roads. There's a danger behind every corner. That's one of the good things about racing in Italy. You never know what is going to happen."
Sciandri confirmed BMC's strategy for the rest of Tirreno-Adriatico.
"We've got different small objectives, and Caruso in the jersey is one of them," he said.
"For me, personally, I come into Tirreno with the big picture: that it's a hard race. The smaller but still big picture was to win the TTT. We've achieved that. Now we start tomorrow with the race lead."
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