Mitchelton-Scott director Matt White was convinced that the Australian WorldTour team were on course to win the opening team time trial at Tirreno-Adriatico, but he could only watch in disappointment as BMC Racing came home four seconds faster to push his team down to second place on the day.
"It's always disappointing when you don't win, but it was so close, and overall we are happy with the result and how that sets us up for the rest of the week," White said. "What we saw today was a really selfless ride from the team. Our goal was to go out hard, and that meant that we had to sacrifice a couple of guys, our sprinter Caleb [Ewan], Luka [Mezgec] and Jack [Bauer] all did what they could and kept the speed high, which enabled us to have a very good ride today."
Luke Durbridge crossed the line first for the Australian team and now sits fifth overall, four seconds down from BMC's GC leader Damiano Caruso, Rohan Dennis, Paddy Bevin and Greg Van Avermaet. Durbridge's teammates Daryl Impey, Adam Yates and Michael Hepburn follow him in the overall results, with Team Sky's line up, led by Geraint Thomas, next at a further five seconds back.
For Durbridge, the disappointment of not winning was countered by the relatively small margin of BMC's win.
"We haven't been that close to BMC in a while, so we're happy to be up there in the pointy end of TTTs," he told Cyclingnews. "Obviously four seconds too slow, but hey, it was a good performance. We wanted the victory, too, but we'll be looking at where we can improve on today and where we can find those five seconds that would have meant we won. There are two more big TTTs this season, and one of them is at the Tour de France, so we're working hard for that."
Mitchelton-Scott's Impey, who started his season with a win at the Tour Down Under, also took solace in BMC's four-second winning margin.
"We wanted to win today, we've got a strong team here and it would've been nice to see Luke pull on the leader's jersey, but we are getting closer and closer now," Impey said. "For a couple of year's we've been getting beaten by a fair margin, but we are closing the gap now and that's important.
"I think we held it together pretty well out there and everybody stuck to the plan and we went out as hard as we could," Impey said. "The commitment was there right until the end, and we are very happy to get Adam into a good position on the GC straight away."
The seven-day race continues Thursday with a 167km stage from Camaiore to Follonica. Sprinters like Ewan are expected to have their day, while Friday's stage 3 has three categorised climbs, including the uphill finish. Saturday's 219km fourth stage to Sarnano Sottotetto is the hardest of the race and ends with the 13km climb to the line at an altitude of 1,335 metres.
Sunday's 179km fifth stage passes through the hilltop town of Filottrano twice before the finish, with the Muro di Filottrano touching 15 per cent. The sprinter's get their chance again during Monday's stage 6, and the race ends Tuesday with an out-and-back 10km individual time trial on the seafront in San Benedetto del Tronto.
For Durbridge, who told Cyclingnews he was happy to be back in the TTT saddle after crashing hard at the national championships in January, Wednesday's performance bodes well for his team for the rest of the week.
"For sure. We've given Yatesy [Adam Yates] a good start on his rivals," Durbridge said. "Hopefully he can use that well. Then we've got Caleb Ewan for the sprints, too. We've got a good, strong squad here."
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