The opening team time trial in the Giro Rosa came down to the wire as the two top teams, Team Sunweb and Mitchelton-Scott, were separated by only one second. While Mitchelton-Scott and third-placed Boels Dolmans were quickly down to their four strongest time triallists, Sunweb chose to keep all seven starters together for as long as possible - a strategy that paid off.
The team time trial was run in the afternoon heat. After winning the stage with her Sunweb teammates, van Dijk commented on this with a smile. "It was really hot! Before the stage we joked that we would jump straight into the lake, but now we have to do the podium ceremony first. I am super happy to have won, but it feels a little weird to get the jersey alone when it is a team effort."
Team Sunweb had done their homework, checking out the race course more than once and planning the race in detail, van Dijk explained. "It was a very fast course, but we were well-prepared and knew we had to go very fast from the start. We reconnoitred the course several times, and had a good meeting before the race. We laid out a good plan and executed it almost to perfection. That is what was needed to win this race. You could not make any mistakes on this fast, demanding course. It is a great feeling to have won this with the team. We are in high spirits and could not have started this Giro in a better way."
In addition to the pink jersey for van Dijk, Team Sunweb also scored the white jersey as 20-year-old Liane Lippert leads the U23 classification.
After losing out to Team Sunweb by one second, there was brief disappointment in the Mitchelton-Scott camp over getting beaten by so little. But Amanda Spratt soon chose to see the positives. "We are a bit surprised that we were only one second from the win. Team Sunweb are the world champions and I think this is by far the best team time trial we have ever done. We have never been this close to the win in a TTT. Everybody gave it all they could today."
Time trial world champion Annemiek van Vleuten added that training specifically for the TTT played a part in the good result. "We have trained a lot in the team time trial discipline and it is really nice for the girls to see the hard work pay off already. It was a really good team time trial for us so we are all happy."
The Giro Rosa continues on Saturday with a stage of 120.39km around Ovada.