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Time trial start times

Stage preview: Downhill opening time trial likely to create big gaps

Filippo Ganna's World Champion Pinarello Bolide TT bike

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(Image credit: RCS Sport)

Results

1. Filippo Ganna (Ineos Grenadiers) - 15:24

2. Joao Almeida (Deceuninck-QuickStep) - 15:46

3. Mikkel Bjerg (UAE Team Emirates) - 15:46

4. Geraint Thomas (Ineos Grenadiers) - 15:47

5. Tobias Foss (Jumbo-Visma) - 15:55

GC favourites

Geraint Thomas (Ineos Grenadiers) - 15:47

Simon Yates (Mitchelton-Scott) - 16:13

Wilco Kelderman (Sunweb) - 16:52

Vincenzo Nibali (Trek-Segafredo) - 16:53

Steven Kruijswijk (Jumbo-Visma) - 17:08

Jakob Fuglsang (Astana) - 17:11

Rafal Majka (Bora-Hansgrohe) - 17:24

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Buongiorno! And welcome to the Giro d'Italia. It may be five months late, and overlapping with another Grand Tour and three Monuments, but the corsa rosa is here in all its glory. It's set to be a unique Giro, perhaps even more unpredictable than usual, and it kicks off today in a fittingly unusual manner with a largely downhill 15-kilometre time trial into Palermo. One of three time trials on the route, totalling some 65km, it's an immediate rendezvous for the overall contenders, and a tone-setter in more ways than one. Here we go!

The first rider to roll down the start ramp and kick off the 2020 Giro d'Italia will do so at 13:15 local time, so in around 20 minutes. It's none other than Alex Dowsett (Israel Start-Up Nation), a time trial specialist who won a Giro stage several years ago. 

The 176 riders will set off at one-minute intervals, all the way through to the last rider, Rafal Majka (Bora-Hansgrohe) at 16:10.  

Before we get going, here's Alasdair Fotheringham with an in-depth stage preview, looking closely at this eye-catching course and delving back into the history books to try and read the runes. 

Giro d'Italia: Downhill opening time trial likely to create big gaps

Along with Alasdair in Palermo for us today is Barry Ryan, who reports that the Sirocco wind is blowing strongly. It'll be a crosswind on that long straight descent into Palermo. They'll then have more of a tailwind as the road flattens out, before turning back into a headwind towards the finish.

For reference, here's the map, with the wind blowing more or less from the south. The map also reveals more about the challenges of this course, with the downhill section long straight and fast for the most part, but interrupted by a double switch-back S-bend early on. Once into town, it's largely untechnical again, apart from that nasty 180-degree turn with 2km to go, which will once again see the riders have to scrub off almost all their speed. 

(Image credit: RCS Sport)

Just three minutes after Dowsett, we have a contender for the stage win in Victor Campenaerts (NTT Pro Cycling). The Ineos trio of Geraint Thomas, Filippo Ganna, and Rohan Dennis are all off after 2pm. They could feasibly sweep the podium, with new world time trial champion Ganna, in the rainbow skinsuit and aboard a flashy new bike, the big favourite. 

The Giro is underway!

Dowsett, in a white skinsuit as British time trial champion, rolls down the ramp and we are off!

The climb starts almost immediately and while Dowsett steadily powers up the lower slopse, he's forced out of the saddle on the steeper stuff near the top. He winds through the streets of the old town and sets off downhill. 

Pello Bilbao (Bahrain McLaren) and Matteo Spreafico (Androni Giocattoli-Sidermec) have begun their rides, and now Campenaerts sets off. The Hour Record holder recognised Ganna is the fastest rider, but hoped he could take some time on the climb. 

Careful! 

That S-bend almost claims its first victim, as Dowsett's front wheel has a wobble. Every little mistake will be costly on a course like this.

The start of this descent is so fast that the riders so far aren't even pedalling, but dropped down onto their top tubes to get as aerodynamic as possible.

Crash!

Campenaerts is down and his hopes are in tatters. The Belgian slips out on the first right-hand bend, having taken so much speed into it. He's back up and going again but he's not going to win this stage now. 

More problems!

Dowsett again. Not quite sure what happened there, but he needs a push from his mechanic to get him going again.

Dowsett comes to the line and stops the clock on 17:06, but he's nearly caught by Bilbao, who sets the new fastest time with 16:23. Still not quite sure what happened to Dowsett but the incident clearly cost him dearly.

And here comes Campenaerts, who recovered well from that crash, refusing to throw in the towel and giving it his all, knowing it probably won't be good enough. He crosses the line with a bloodied right leg, clocking 16:31, so eight seconds down on Bilbao. 

Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) rolls down the ramp now. This is the first time he's done the Giro, and his appearance is even more bizarre when you consider he's sacrificing the Classics to be here, just two weeks after finishing the Tour de France. 

New fastest time from Christopher Hamilton (Sunweb), who knocks four seconds out of Bilbao.

We've just grabbed a word with Campenaerts, who's complaining about the road surface. More on that shortly.

(Image credit: Barry Ryan)

Lawson Craddock, wearing a duck helmet, sets the new fastest time with 16:05. (More on the duck thing later as well).

"The roads are full of oil," Campenaerts says. "It doesn’t rain much here. If you organise a race with 100kph you must clean the surface."

It's not just the descent, or the road surface... the wind is strong, and it's swirling. Sagan is being blown about all over the road here! This is a really dangerous day for the GC riders, for whom the main objective may end up being staying safe. 

Joao Almeida (Deceuninck-QuickStep) sets the new fastest time, with 15:46. The youngster has had a great season so far and is certainly one to watch at this Giro. 

Almeida's average speed was an eye-watering 57.4km/h. Some have speculated whether that descent will lead to a new record speed, currently held by Rik Verbrugghe with 58.874km/h, from 2001. 

Kamil Malecki (CCC Team) is another rider to have hit the deck. 

Jonathan Castroviejo gets underway now. We spoke of how Ineos could sweep the podium. How about the top 4? The Spaniard is a specialist and surely the most aerodynamic of the lot. 

Sagan comes to the finish and stops the clock on 17:14. He does, however, have the fastest time as it stands at the first intermediate checkpoint, at the top of the climb after just 1.1km. That's going to count for the mountains classification, so as it stands he's heading into the blue jersey.

Yates underway

Simon Yates (Mitchelton-Scott) is the first of the GC favourites to take on the time trial. He's a climber who lit up the Giro two years ago - only to crack late on - but has improved immeasurably agains the clock, as he proved by winning the Vuelta later that season. After winning Tirreno-Adriatico, he's a real contender for this Giro. 

Tense moments as Yates, who also sat down on his top tube on the first part of the descent, approaches the S-bend. The first bend is tentative, and the second one is even worse, as he has to check to correct his line. Still, at least he's upright. 

Here's a shot of that early climb

(Image credit: Getty Images)

And here's the start of that descent. 

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Yates is going well, clocking 9:13 at the second intermediate checkpoint after 9.4km. That's 11 seconds down on Almeida. 

Yates was 9 seconds slower than Sagan on the 1.1km opening climb. 

For Yates' pre-race thoughts, here's the link you need. 

Simon Yates to apply Vuelta a España victory strategy to Giro d'Italia

Yates makes it safely around the 180-degree bend and sprints out of it as he heads into the final 2km of his ride. 

Here comes Yates to the line...

16:13 for the Brit, which is the fourth fastest time so far, 27 seconds down on Almeida

Rohan Dennis is off

The former time trial world champion is one of the big favourites today. He was roundly beaten by Ganna at Worlds, where he could only manage 5th, so it's going to take a special ride today. 

Dennis cuts a tight line on the first of those downhill corners. 

Let's hear from Almeida

"It was a pretty hilly course. We had the first climb and it was really windy. It was hard to keep the TT position but I was really happy with my effort. Let’s see how it goes. With the wind sometimes you can almost crash and you really need to be focused and course if you take risks on the corners the wind is really unpredictable. It can come from any side. Honestly I don’t have a lot of expectations for the top three in the TT. There are a lot of strong guys to come but I’ll try and hold it."

Dennis is riding down the more gentle second part of this descent with hands on the main handlebar, and not the aero TT bars. He shakes his head as the wind blows him across the road. 

Dennis comes to the second checkpoint after 9.4km and he's some way off the pace. 9:15 is his time there - only 12th fastest. He has a lot of work to do on the flat final part. 

Rick Zabel (Israel Start-Up Nation) has a similar idea and attacks the first part of the course in search of the KOM jersey. He knocks a second off Sagan's time at that 1.1km checkpoint. 

Worth pointing out that Zabel is on a road bike. He was clearly going all-in for that one climb.

Zabel has now switched to a TT bike for the descent. 

Tobias Foss (Jumbo-Visma), winner of the Tour de l'Avenir last year, clocks 15:55 to set the second fastest time so far. A real talent who's riding his first Grand Tour. 

Geraint Thomas has completed his warm-up and is getting ready to start his ride. Someone fetch his Garmin. 

Dennis comes to the line and stops the clock on 16:12. That's 26 seconds down on Almeida's time and only good enough for seventh place so far, with plenty of riders still to come. A disappointing day for the Australian. 

You didn't think QuickStep's head of culture would be skipping the Giro, did you?

16:06 for Miles Scotson (Groupama-FDJ) as another specialist, Jos van Emden (Jumbo-Visma) sets off. 

Geraint Thomas sets off

The Tour de France is a distant memory now as the Welshman kicks off his Giro. After scrambling some form together, and with a TT-heavy route, he's a major contender for the Giro title. 

1:46 for Thomas at the top of the climb after 1.1km. That's 11 seconds down on the fastest time. 

Thomas decides against a top-tube tuck on the descent, and here come the bends. First one is fine, and so's the second one. It was steady and careful, but confident. 

Thomas reaches the end of the downhill section and he's third fastest so far at the second checkpoint with 9:03. He's neck and neck with Almeida and could be riding into virtual pink here. 5km of flat to go. 

"On the first climb I felt really good, and on the downhill before the switchbacks it wasn’t too bad, but once I was down on that long straight road, it was too unpredictable," Dennis tells Eurosport. "There were a couple of times when my bike got caught and I actually had to stop pedalling, because I thought I was going to go across the road into the fence. At that point I decided to keep going hard, but no risks for me. I was thinking about 21 stages – not just one."

The wind appears to have died down slightly. It's hard to say exactly, but the riders aren't getting buffeted around in the same way now. 

Thomas hits the 180 turn, gets round slowly but surely again, and gets back up to speed. This has gone as well as it could have done so far.

16:06 for Van Emden - 9th fastest so far.

Here comes Thomas, gritting his teeth in the home straight...

15:47!

That's third fastest so far, just a second down on Almeida and Mikkel Bjerg (UAE Team Emirates), who the cameras missed as they focused on Thomas. 

No stage win for Thomas, but in terms of the overall picture, he has put 26 seconds into Yates, with the rest of the contenders still to come. 

The cameras didn't show much of Bjerg's ride, but what a ride it was - just a fraction of a second off Almeida. The Dane couldn't have made his TT talents any more obvious, winning the U23 world title three years in a row. Now he's a pro, and riding his first Grand Tour. 

Ganna has finished his warm-up and is heading for the start ramp.

Ganna, in his new world champion's skinsuit - white upper, navy legs - with a rainbow helmet to boot, gets his ride underway. This is the big favourite - the world champ and a specialist in shorter time trials.

This is what Ganna is aboard today, by the way. Full gallery and story here

(Image credit: Ineos Grenadiers)

A strong start from Ganna sees him crest the early climb in 1:43. That's eight seconds down on the fastest time but that was from a rider going full gas just on that section in search of the KOM jersey. 

Blunder from Ganna. He takes too much speed into that first downhill bend and has to take it really wide. The second one goes a little better but it's ginger stuff from the world champion. Still, he has plenty of ground to work his way into pink. 

Ganna on the charge!

8:51 for the world champion at the second checkpoint after 9.4km. That's some 11 seconds quicker than Almeida. 

Ganna catches his minute-man, Koen Bouwman (Jumbo-Visma). 

Almeida shuffles nervously in the hotseat. I think he knows he's about to be asked to leave. 

Chad Haga (Sunweb) sets off, having won the last Giro stage (also a time trial), 16 months ago now. 

Alexander Vlasov (Astana) sets off now. Astana are led by Jakob Fuglsang, but what a season the young Vlasov is having, so it would be no surprise to see him up there in the GC picture. 

Ganna heads towards the finish, and he’s crushing this. He’s going to smash Almeida’s time.

15:24!

Filippo Ganna storms into the virtual maglia rosa with a time that's some 22 seconds faster than Almeida. Wow. A performance worthy of the rainbow skinsuit. 

It's hard to see anyone beating that monstrous time from Ganna. I think we're looking at the first overall leader and pink jersey of this Giro. 

Ganna's average speed was 58.8km/h. That's right up there with Verbrugghe's record, and it'll come down to the minor fractions of a second. 

Haga reminds us of the dangers of this descent, having to unclip on the first bend.

We have confirmation that Ganna's speed was 58.831 km/h. Verbrugghe's was 58,874 km/h back in 2001, so the record is still safe. 

Maciej Bodnar (Bora-Hansgrohe) sets off. He's got a brilliant time trial in his locker. 

Haga clocks 16:08 - 13th fastest so far. 

Vlasov comes to the line now, and it's a slightly disappointing one. 16:44 for the Russian. That's almost a minute slower than Thomas, for GC reference. 

Ganna on the climb a little earlier

Giro d'Italia 2020 - 103th Edition - 1st stage Monreale - Palermo 15,1 km - 03/10/2020 - Filippo Ganna (ITA - Team Ineos) - photo Tommaso Pelagalli/BettiniPhoto©2020

(Image credit: Bettini Image)

Michael Matthews (Sunweb) sets off now - a sprinter, really, who's still very very good in short time trials. What's he doing here? I have no idea. It's hard to question Sunweb after the success they had at the Tour de France, but Matthews missing the Tour and the Classics in order to ride the Giro doesn't seem to make much sense. He has since ripped up his contract for next year and is heading back to Mitchelton-Scott. 

Miguel Angel Lopez (Astana) sets off, and it'll be interesting to see what he can do at this Giro. He's been on the podium before but it's too close to the Tour de France to see him in the GC picture, and he'll surely be a luxury mountain domestique for Fuglsang. As for today, hopes won't be high after that awful final Tour de France TT, which saw him plummet from 3rd to 6th overall. 

A word from Geraint Thomas

"I'm pretty happy, I just felt a bit legless in the last 2km so maybe I overdid it slightly, but it was a good hit out. It was a bit of a shock to the system - it felt like a prologue, or a pursuit on the track. I haven't seen the results but I'm pretty satisfied. 

"It was super quick, probably the fastest time trial I've done, average wise. I think I hit 94km/h - I've never been that fast in a TT."

Tony Martin (Jumbo-Visma) sets off. The German is a four-time world time trial champion but hasn't won one outside German nationals since his last world title in 2016. He's just done the Tour, and has largely set aside personal ambitions in this late phase of his career. 

Martin is well down at the first checkpoint at the top of the climb, and appears relaxed, so it doesn't look like he has any real ambitions here today. 

Crash!

Lopez is down, and it's a really nasty one. He's at the second checkpoint, after 9.4km, and he hits a bump in the road. He immediately loses control of his bike and goes crashing into the barriers. 

Lopez was coming out of the TT bars when he hit that bump. Let's hope he's ok. 

Lopez is back on his bike and will complete the rest of the time trial.

Matthews clocks 16:22 - 23rd fastest so far. 

After a bit of a lull in the GC picture, we have Kelderman, Nibali, and Fuglsang in the start area. 

Wilco Kelderman (Sunweb) is underway. He's a talented rider but has struggled with injuries and has lacked consistency in the last couple of years. 

Martin has a bit more of a pain face on at the finish, but his time is only the 58th fastest so far.

Vincenzo Nibali (Trek-Segafredo) sets off. He's 36 next month, and has recent form is nothing to shout about, but he has won this race twice, finished on the podium a bunch more times, and can never be counted out. 

And now Jakob Fuglsang (Astana) starts. A rider who is just getting better and better the deeper into his 30s he goes. After winning Il Lombardia in August, he now has two Monuments in two years but has only one Grand Tour top 10 to his name. 

Brandon McNulty (UAE Team Emirates) sets off. He's a strong time triallist and a GC prospect. He didn't envisage riding a Grand Tour in his first pro season but here he is, part of a team built more for sprints and breakaways, free to gain some valuable experience. 

We had originally thought Lopez had got back on his bike, according to GPS data, but  he has in fact abandoned the Giro. He's been taken away in the race ambulance, so we wait to hear about his condition and hope he's ok. 

Steven Kruijswijk (Jumbo-Visma) sets off now. He was forced to miss the Tour de France and hasn't raced since crashing out of the Dauphiné. Still, he's such a consistent rider that it's hard to see him not being a major player in the fight for pink. 

It's not looking great for Nibali here. He clocks 9:49 at the first checkpoint, so 46 seconds down on Thomas already. 

Rafal Majka (Bora-Hansgrohe) sets off now, and that's our last rider. We're only quarter of an hour away from the end of the stage, and it'd take a miracle for Ganna not to be confirmed as our winner and first pink jersey.

Kelderman comes to the finish. He's known as an all-round GC rider but he's not putting in a great ride here. 16:52. That's just over a minute down on Thomas. 

And now for Fuglsang, who has already lost his best mountain domestique in Lopez. A disappointing time, too, for the Dane. 17:11. That's 1:47 down on Ganna and nearly 90 seconds down on Thomas. 

16:53 for Nibali, so he also loses just over a minute to Thomas, who will be very pleased with the way this is going. Kruijswijk is still to come in. 

Those GC finishers have highlighted what a good ride that was from Yates, who puts 40 seconds into Nibali and almost a minute into Fuglsang.

Kruijswijk was nearly a minute down on Thomas at the second checkpoint. He's into the final 2km now. 

It has to be said that Kruijswijk hasn't raced since the Dauphiné and will be short of racing condition, with the hope of growing into the race and coming good int he final week. But still, this isn't a good showing from the Dutchman. 

17:08 for Kruijswijk. That's a shade faster than Fuglsang but nearly a minute down on Yates and nearly 90 seconds down on Thomas. 

We're with the last few riders now. None have gone quicker than Zabel at the first checkpoint, so he'll be in blue tomorrow as leader of the mountains classification. 

Majka is the last rider out there, and Ganna is already celebrating.

Majka comes to the line and stops the clock on 17:24 - the weakest performance of the GC pretenders. 

And so it's official....

Filippo Ganna (Ineos Grenadiers) wins stage 1 of the Giro d'Italia

Ganna, the new world champion, delivers on his favourite status with a storming ride just a shade off the fastest ever average speed for a professional race. On the first day of his first Grand Tour, he takes the stage victory, and with it the famous maglia rosa in front of his home fans. 

"I'm really happy," says Ganna. "This jersey is fantastic for me, and my team will also be happy. I say a big thank you to them, for all the support to arrive in pink at the Giro."

Of course, the stage win is only one side of the story, and when you look at the GC picture, it just gets better and better for Ineos. 

Thomas placed fourth on the stage and was comfortably the best of the overall contenders, putting 26 seconds into Yates, just over a minute into Kelderman and Nibali, and more than 1:20 into Kruijswijk and Fuglsang. 

It's early days, but these 15 kilometres have opened up some really significant gaps on GC. There are a few riders fairly tightly bunched, but Thomas has taken a big swipe, and all but Yates will be feeling a little dejected, not least because we've got 50km more time trialling left in this race.

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Here's our report page, where you can find a write-up, results, and photos.

Giro d'Italia: Filippo Ganna wins stage 1

Giro d'Italia 2020 - 103th Edition - 1st stage Monreale - Palermo 15,1 km - 03/10/2020 - Filippo Ganna (ITA - Team Ineos) - photo Luca Bettini/BettiniPhoto©2020

(Image credit: Bettini Image)

That's it for today. We'll be back tomorrow for full live coverage of stage 2, a 149km stage to Agrigento with an undulating start and a punchy finish. Keep your eye on Cyclingnews for all the reaction and analysis from today's stage. Bye!

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