Mikel Landa (Team Sky) came through the opening Giro d'Italia time trial feeling satisfied overall at having minimized his losses in a time trial stage that, as he saw it, did him no favours whatsoever.
The Basque climber had commented beforehand that a 10 kilometre time trial might not sound so long, but it was surely long enough to create some initial important time gaps between the favourites.
In his case and in the long-run, finishing 67th in the Apeldoorn course, 40 seconds down on winner Tom Dumoulin (Giant-Alpecin) was not as significant as only losing 16 seconds compared to Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) or 21 seconds on leading favourite Vincenzo NIbali (Astana).
Talking at the line, Landa commented that "I think it was difficult but the time I recorded was quite good.. I'm a bit tired but I'm happy with my result.
"This was one of the time trials that worried me, short and flat and not at all favourable for me and I thought I'd lose more time,” Landa said afterwards to Eurosport. "The time was within what I hoped for overall.
"My legs hurt, though, it's hard to quantify exactly how badly, I was going well but I felt pretty rough at the same time."
Summing up, Landa argued that "had the differences risen to a minute, they could have been very important. So I'm pleased with how I feel and the time loss."
Speaking on the team website, sports director Dario Cioni added, "With Mikel we're having a bit of a different start to usual," he explained. "We all remember a few years ago we were here with Bradley (Wiggins) [in 2010] and he went into the pink jersey. Mikel is a completely different type of rider, so today was about limiting the time losses….Even the time loss to Nibali is fairly small. 20 seconds is in the lower range of what we might have expected - so he's done well."
Sky’s focus will now turn to what their Italian fastman Elia Viviani, 53rd in Friday's opening time trial stage, can achieve in the upcoming two flat stages in Holland, both likely to end in bunch sprints. Viviani won a first week stage in last year's Giro d'Italia in Genova against Moreno Hofland (LottoNL-Jumbo) and Andre Greipel (Lotto-Soudal), both present in this year's race, too. This year Viviani has already taken stage victories in the Dubai Tour and Three Days of De Panne and on Saturday he will be gunning for a third win.
Stage 1 Video Highlights
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Alasdair Fotheringham has been reporting on cycling since 1991. He has covered every Tour de France since 1992 as well as numerous other bike races of all shapes and sizes, ranging from the Olympic Games in 2008 to the now sadly defunct Subida a Urkiola hill climb in Spain. Apart from working for Cyclingnews.com, he is also the cycling correspondent for The Independent and The Independent on Sunday.
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