Former track rivals Taylor Phinney (BMC) and Jack Bobridge (Orica-GreenEdge) had opposite starts to the Giro d'Italia. The Australian Bobridge finished the stage 1 time trial in 114th position, exactly one minute behind the American Phinney. With his record-setting pursuit background, Bobridge seemed like a candidate for a strong performance on the 8.7km course in Herning, Denmark, but the South Australian had downplayed expectations prior to the race.
"Yesterday's time trial was never going to be a goal for Jack," said Orica-GreenEdge's Directeur Sportif Matt White to Cyclingnews at the start of stage 2 on Sunday in Herning.
By his side was the team's founder Gerry Ryan, who is over the moon after recently sealing a deal with the mining company Orica. "I didn't expect to find a title sponsor so quickly," said Ryan, who will also attend the Tour of California to witness Robbie McEwen's farewell to pro racing.
Bobridge's poor performance was a result of his racing program or rather, the lack of a recent racing program. In fact, the super talent from Gawler was nervous on the start line of stage 2 because he hadn't raced in a peloton since the Herald Sun Tour in October of 2011.
"That wasn't the plan, but the crash at the Australian time trial nationals changed it," said White. Bobridge had crashed after one kilometer of racing against the clock in Ballarat and he was forced to sit out the subsequent Santos Tour Down Under. The young rider returned to racing on the track with the world championship in Melbourne, where his compatriot and teammate Michael Hepburn took the title for individual pursuit.
Bobridge's main goal for 2012 is the team pursuit at the London Olympics. "I only came back to Europe on April 10," he said. That left very little time for training for the Giro. The management of GreenEdge chose to let him train rather than line up at a race prior to the Giro.
"He's doing the Giro to set up for the Olympics," said White. "That will be his only road race until London. He needed a rest after the world championships, but he'll get better and better at the Giro. I wouldn't be surprised if he makes the top 10 in the final time trial in Milan."
Bobridge intends to perform well prior to stage 21. "The power is there," said Bobridge. "In the team time trial [on Wednesday in Verona after a transfer from Denmark to Italy], I want to ride well with the boys."
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