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With a time of 23.55, BMC beat Etixx-QuickStep by 2 seconds in an exciting duel on the first stage of Tirreno-Adriatico to put Oss into the overall lead; FDJ was a surprise third

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09.03.2016 @ 16:59 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

BMC confirmed their status as the best team time trial team in the world by taking another big win in the discipline on the first stage of Tirreno-Adriatico. The American team covered the flat 22.7km course in a time of 23.55 which was two seconds faster than Etixx-QuickStep and nine seconds faster than the surprise third place finisher FDJ and as the first rider across the line for his team, Daniel Oss is the first leader of the race.

 

In 2014, BMC became a slightly surprising world team time trial champion in Ponferrada when they beat the favourite teams of Etixx-QuickStep and Orica-GreenEDGE. If anyone though that the win was a fluke, they have had to change their mind as the American team have dominated the discipline ever since.

 

Last year BMC won the team time trials in the Criterium du Dauphiné, Tour de France and Vuelta a Espana before they went on to defend their Worlds title in Richmond. In fact, they only missed out on victory at the Tour de Romandie and the Giro d’Italia where they didn’t have their best teams at their disposal.

 

Their many wins made them the favourites for today’s first big team time trial of the 2016 season, the opening stage of Tirreno-Adriatico. Most expected it to come down to a duel with Etixx-QuickStep that lined up a powerful roster to try to finally beat the Americans.

 

That prediction turned out to be true as those two teams turned out to be better than the rest. It came down to just 2 seconds on the 22.7km flat course in Lido di Camaiore but again the Americans emerged as the best.

 

BMC were already 2 seconds faster at the intermediate check after 9.5km of racing but after losing both Jempy Drucker and Alessandro De Marchi, only Taylor Phinney, Daniel Oss, Manuel Quinziato, Greg Van Avermaet, Tejay van Garderen and Damiano Caruso were left when they turned into a headwind on the way back. However, it turned out to be enough as they maintained their 2-second advantage over the Belgians who had to settle for another frustrating second place. Gianluca Brambilla who had been first across the line, missed out on the chance to wear the leader’s jersey in his home race.

 

The big surprise of the day was the FDJ team. The Frenchmen beat early starters Tinkoff and Movistar who were among the outsiders for the stage win when they reached the finish as the sixth team and it was apparent that they had delivered a spectacular performance. They led the stage for most of the day until Etixx-QuickStep went seven seconds faster. However, the time was enough to end the stage in third and get Thibaut Pinot’s race off to an excellent start.

 

Roman Kreuziger could also be pleased as Tinkoff finished fourth, 11 seconds off the pace, with IAM and Jarlinson Pantano rounding out the top 5. Vincenzo Nibali and Astana also had a fine start with sixth place, 15 seconds slower than BMC.

 

Among the pre-race favourites, the big losers were Alejandro Valverde and Rigoberto Uran. Movistar could only manage 10th and Valverde already finds himself 29 seconds behind van Garderen after one day of racing. Things were even worse for Uran who was one of three riders from Cannondale to hit the deck and even though he rejoined his teammates to reach the finish with them, the Colombian’s team were last and he already has a setback of 2.03 compared to van Garderen who is now in pole position among the favourites.

 

However, van Garderen won’t wear the blue leader’s jersey tomorrow as it was his teammate Oss who was first across the line. He will his position in a difficult second stage that has a flat start but then includes two climbs in the final third. The final climb is a gentle rise that summit just 2.9km from the finish and from there it is rolling and very technical before the riders hit a short ramp that leads to the line, making it a great day for classics riders and puncheurs.

 

A flat opener

The 51st edition of Tirreno-Adriatico kicked off with a team time trial as it has become a tradition in recent years. It was a completely flat 22.7km out-and-back course along the coast in Lido di Camaiore with barely any turns, making it a perfect day for the powerful specialists.

 

The sun was shining when Movistar rolled down the ramp as the first team at 13.45 local time. The team was eager to get Alejandro Valverde’s race off to a great start and reached the finish in 24.24 to set an early mark.

 

Best time for Tinkoff

Movistar were one of the favourites but the same was true for the second team on the ramp. Tinkoff riding close to Oleg Tinkov’s house and were especially eager to do well which they did by beating Movistar by 14 seconds at the intermediate check before reaching the finish in 24.06 to lower the mark by 18 seconds.

 

Dimension Data delivered a disappointing performance with 24.58, meaning that Edvald Boasson Hagen and Stephen Cummings lost significant time. Team LottoNL-Jumbo did much better as they slotted into third with a time of 24.33, a solid start for GC rider Primoz Roglic. CCC Sprandi were not expected to shine in this stage and so it was no surprise that five riders from the Polish team stopped the clock in 24.59 to slot into fourth out of four teams.

 

FDJ take the lead

At this point, everybody was eagerly waiting for FDJ to reach the finish as they had been four second faster than Tinkoff at the time check. Surprisingly, they managed to maintain the speed and it was Johan Le Bon who led them across the line in 24.04 to go two seconds faster than the Russians.

 

An in-form Fabian Cancellara led Trek-Segafredo who were among the outsiders and they were clearly in the mix as they were only five seconds behind FDJ at the time check. However, they were unable to maintain the speed on the way back and their time of 24.12 was only good enough for third place.

 

Disaster for Uran

Disaster struck for Cannondale as Sebastian Langeveld, Ramunas Navardauskas and Uran all crashed and as they had to wait for their Colombian team leader, they posted by far the slowest time of 25.58. Things went better for Orica-GreenEDGE who were without most of their specialists and so could be pleased with a time of 24.20 which was good enough for fourth.

 

Joaquim Rodriguez and his Katusha teammates clearly suffered on the flat roads and their time of 24.54 saw them slot into a modest 7th place out of 10 teams. However, they did much better than Caja Rural that had a disastrous ride with 25.36 which saw them move into 10th.

 

Etixx-QuickStep take the lead

IAM had posted a fast intermediate time as they were only two seconds behind FDJ and it briefly looked like they were going to take the lead. Reto Hollenstein did his best to lead his teammates across the line but it was not enough as 24.07 was three seconds off the pace and only enough for third.

 

Bardiani delivered a poor performance with 25.36 to slot into 11th but that didn’t get much attention as everybody was waiting for Etixx-QuickStep to arrive. The team had been two seconds faster than FDJ at the time check and they managed to add another five seconds to their lead on the way back, with Brambilla leading five teammates across the line in 23.57 to take lead.

 

BMC confirm their status

Giant-Alpecin slotted into 12th with 25.18 on a day that was all about survival but were quickly beaten by Bora-Argon who pushed them down one spot by stopping the clock in 25.06. Instead, Sky were expected to pose a bigger threat but they were already five seconds off the pace at the time check and when Michal Kwiatkowski led his teammates to the finish, the clock showed 24.16 which was only good enough for sixth.

 

The excitement was growing as BMC were now approaching the finish after having been two seconds faster than Etixx-QuickStep at the time check. Oss took a massive turn in the final kilometre and was first across the line in 23.55 which was enough to narrowly edge out the Belgian leaders.

 

Solid start for Astana

Lotto Soudal had a decent ride to slot into 11th with 24.41 while Lampre-Merida had a very bad start. After losing Sacha Modolo, Federico Zurlo and Manuele Mori early, Diego Ulissi led his teammates to the finish 25.21 which was enough for 17th.

 

Ag2r, Domenico Pozzovivo and Jean-Christophe Peraud could be moderately pleased when Matteo Montaguti led them to the finish in 24.45 which saw them slot into 12th. As expected, Androni were off the pace with 25.29 which was enough for 19th.

 

The spectators were eagerly waiting for the final team to arrive as Astana has local hero Nibali at the start but as they had already lost 10 seconds at the time check, it was clear that the win was beyond their reach. They reached the finish in 24.10, losing 15 seconds and ending the race in sixth place.

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