Wow! After a predictable finish on stage 1 we got an incredible surprise today. I will even concede that Yates, at times, has shown to be able to defend himself reasonably well in TTs (TTs). Better than most people (me included) usually consider. But this is the same rider that lost 3m23s to Filippo Ganna in the 39km of TTs in last year’s edition of the Giro. To have him beat an Olympic silver medalist for the stage win is… baffling!
Anyway, since there’s not much to write about what happens during a TT let’s proceed by pointing out which riders come out of this TT with their hopes bolstered for the rest of the competition, and which were hoping for a better result.
Simon Yates – well, obviously. The only other TT he won in his career was in 2019, in the Paris Nice. Ironically, he finished that edition of the French race in 25th. So that surprising TT victory did not result in an impressive general classification (GC) result. In 2021 the British rider’s best result in a TT was 27th. I think this is enough to illustrate how surprising this victory is. Anyway, having 24 seconds on Richard Carapaz and 18 on João Almeida after the first TT is a result that Yates would have surely signed up for before the Giro started.
Mathieu Van Der Poel – while not surprising, keeping the maglia rosa for another day is always worthy of note. Additionally, if he is actually serious about finishing the Giro as he mentioned before it started, he already has a 56-point advantage over Giacomo Nizzolo, the first real threat in the points’ jersey competition. Let’s see how willing Van Der Poel is to insert himself in bunch sprints, but this advantage plus his ability to accumulate points in stages that are out of reach for competitors make him a serious candidate to win the maglia ciclamino.
Wilco Kelderman – I believe Carapaz actually had a decent TT but I can’t really consider him a plus performer when he lost nearly 30 seconds to Yates. That leaves Kelderman and Bardet as the GC contenders that had surprisingly good TT performances. I chose the Dutch rider because he once again (like yesterday) was one of the best GC riders of the day, finishing 7th. He ended that stage with the same time as specialist Tobias Foss and in front of João Almeida. Impressive!
Tom Dumoulin – I’m sorry for labelling a solid TT as “minus” but I really believe Dumoulin needs a boost of confidence. A stage win in the Giro would have been exactly that. The fact that he missed out because of a career best performance of another GC candidate has to sting even more.
João Almeida – The rider that should have put time on everybody gets out of the TT in 11th place, 18 seconds behind Yates, 13 behind Dumoulin, and only 6 in front of Carapaz. It’s not like Almeida’s aspirations have suffered a serious hit (it’d be impossible for that to happen in a <10km TT) but he hasn’t done himself any favors.
Ivan Sosa – The Colombian from Movistar has a lot of ability but he’s going to have to put that ability on the road eventually. He finished this time trial in 159th place!!! Ineos “gave up” on him (too soon, in my opinion) already. He’s 24 years old and the highlight of his career is still the 2019 Vuelta a Burgos. There aren’t any signs of progression and this TT in a race where he has legitimate GC aspirations for the first time in his career is… Suspicious, at best.
One for the sprinters. The top 2 picks are obvious: Caleb Ewan and Mark Cavendish. I’m assuming there’s nothing wrong with the Australian after his day 1 crash and pick him to win tomorrow. His form on stage 1 was impressive, hanging on until the very end on a very difficult finish. German sprinter Phil Bauhaus is my surprise pick for tomorrow. It wouldn’t be a huge one but still – don’t think many people are putting their money on the Bahrain Victorious man.