There is a limit to how much can be extrapolated from the first 10 kilometres of a three-week race like the Giro d'Italia, especially when so much of what is 'revealed' is ultimately in the eyes of the beholder.
Indeed, in this instance, a large part of the takeaway from the 9.8km opening time trial in Apeldoorn depends on whether stage winner Tom Dumoulin (Giant-Alpecin) should be classed – despite his protestations – as a genuine challenger for final overall victory in Turin.
Mikel Landa (Sky), for instance, would probably have settled for surrendering 21 seconds to Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) on Friday afternoon, but his performance takes on a different sheen when Dumoulin is brought into the equation.
Put another way, Landa is already 40 seconds down on Dumoulin, and the Dutchman has another time trial, four times the length and better-suited to his talents, coming up in Chianti a week on Sunday.
"I don't think I have the level to compete in the high mountains," Dumoulin insisted after the stage, but there is nothing in the opening week of racing that ought to impede him unduly. Barring ill fortune, the Dutchman should be in the general classification shake-up at least as far as the first rest day – and he might even still be in pink.
Taking the race day by day brought him to the brink of a surprise Vuelta a España win last September. It's far too early to say if he can achieve something similar here, but Nibali, Valverde et al will be loath to give him the opportunity to find out. Dumoulin should be wary of an ambush in the opening week.
Of the top stratum of overall contenders, Nibali (16th at 19 seconds) fared best, gaining the aforementioned 21 seconds on Landa, but in truth, he might be disappointed not to have picked up a little more, and he only gained five seconds on Movistar's Alejandro Valverde (23rd at 24 seconds) too.
One rider who will be roundly pleased with his display is Esteban Chaves (Orica-GreenEdge), who placed 33rd at 30 seconds, conceding only 11 seconds to Nibali, but essentially beating par on the course by finishing ahead of the likes of Ilnur Zakarin (Katsusha: 38th at 32 seconds) and Ryder Hesjedal (Trek-Segafredo: 41st at 33 seconds).
The biggest disappointment, meanwhile, was probably Rigoberto Uran (Cannondale), who made such progress against the watch during his time at Etixx-QuickStep, but who delivered a low-key display here, placing 43rd, 33 seconds off Dumoulin and 14 down on Nibali – not a disaster, by any means, but hardly encouraging for a man who would have hoped to make up ground here rather than lose it.
In that context, Landa's finish (67th at 40 seconds) is hardly ruinous, though there was little proof either that his work on his position over the winter will completely arrest the kind of losses he suffered in the long Valdobbiadene time trial last year.
Two riders with more obvious reason for dissatisfaction, meanwhile, are the Ag2r-La Mondiale duo of Jean-Christophe Péraud and Domenico Pozzovivo, who lost 38 and 47 seconds, respectively.
(Getty Images Sport)
And yet, in a way, the thorny old question of whether the glass is half full or half empty is almost moot at this juncture, with so much distance left to run between here and the finish in Turin. To a man, the overall contenders would have been relieved beforehand simply to get around the 9.8-kilometre course without breaking said glass.
Spilling a handful of seconds here or there, in the grand scheme of things, should not prove the winning or losing of the Giro, but an early crash – as Garmin discovered in 2014, for instance – is ruinous. The contenders are present, correct and ready to race.
Mention should be made, too, of Andrey Amador's fine third place on the stage, just 6 seconds down on Dumoulin. The Costa Rican was a surprise fourth place overall a year ago, and while a repeat should be beyond him, he could prove a very useful foil to his Movistar teammate Valverde, particularly if his time trialling form holds in Tuscany next weekend.
In the more immediate fight for pink, meanwhile, Marcel Kittel (Etixx-QuickStep) has put himself in the box seat to take hold of the maglia rosa, perhaps even before the Giro reaches Italy after the weekend. The German conceded just 11 seconds to Dumoulin, and with 10-second time bonuses for stage winners and two likely sprint finishes ahead, the overall lead is well within his grasp.
Those with designs on wearing the jersey on May 29, meanwhile, will doubtless be glad to leave the Netherlands unscathed and with the classification unchanged, but Grand Tours rarely follow a set script when they visit this corner of the world.
Nibali was the best of the bona fide general classification contenders in nearby Utrecht following the opening time trial of last year's Tour de France, after all, only to concede 1:28 when the race split in crosswinds the following day. Every second counts at the Giro, but so does every single day.
General Classification favourites after stage 1
|#||Rider Name (Country) Team||Result|
|1||Tom Dumoulin (Ned) Team Giant-Alpecin||0:11:03|
|3||Andrey Amador Bikkazakova (CRc) Movistar Team||0:00:06|
|16||Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Astana Pro Team||0:00:19|
|22||Steven Kruijswijk (Ned) Team LottoNl-Jumbo||0:00:22|
|23||Alejandro Valverde Belmonte (Spa) Movistar Team||0:00:24|
|30||Tim Wellens (Bel) Lotto Soudal||0:00:28|
|31||Diego Ulissi (Ita) Lampre - Merida||0:00:29|
|33||Jhoan Esteban Chaves Rubio (Col) Orica-GreenEdge||0:00:30|
|38||Ilnur Zakarin (Rus) Team Katusha||0:00:32|
|41||Ryder Hesjedal (Can) Trek-Segafredo||0:00:33|
|43||Rigoberto Uran Uran (Col) Cannondale Pro Cycling||Row 10 - Cell 2|
|60||Rafal Majka (Pol) Tinkoff Team||0:00:38|
|62||Jean-Christophe Peraud (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale||Row 12 - Cell 2|
|67||Mikel Landa Meana (Spa) Team Sky||0:00:40|
|97||Domenico Pozzovivo (Ita) AG2R La Mondiale||0:00:47|
Stage 1 Video Highlights
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