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Beating former ski jumper and big surprise Roglic by less than a second, Dumoulin won the opening time trial at the Giro d’Italia on home soil; Amador completed the podium and Nibali gained time on his biggest rivals

Photo: Sirotti

ANDREY AMADOR

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GIRO D'ITALIA

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PRIMOZ ROGLIC

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TEAM SUNWEB

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TOM DUMOULIN

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06.05.2016 @ 17:56 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Tom Dumoulin achieved one of his biggest goals of the season by winning the first time trial at the Giro d’Italia on home soil. In a thrilling finale, he beat big surprise Primoz Roglic (LottoNL-Jumbo) by less than a second to take Giant’Alpecin’s first victory of the year and move into the maglia rosa. Andrey Amador (Movistar) completed the podium while Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) was the best of the overall favourites.

                                                             

Last summer Tom Dumoulin was aiming big as he wanted to take the yellow jersey on home soil when the Tour de France kicked off with a prologue in Utrecht. However, the Dutchman was admittedly too nervous and made too many mistakes, with a fourth place being the disappointing outcome.

 

Luckily, Dumoulin got a second chance as the 2016 Giro d’Italia kicks off in the Netherlands and having learned from the mistakes, he opted for a different approach to the Italian race. This time he was much less relaxed and hadn’t even seen the course when he attended his press conference two days ago.

 

The relaxed mindset paid off for Dumoulin as he achieved the second biggest goal of the season as he came out on top in the battle on the flat course in Apeldoorn. This time no one could hold him back, making it a great dress rehearsal for his biggest goal later in the year: the Olympic time trial in Rio.

 

However, the Dutch LottoNL-Jumbo team was very close to creating a massive surprise and thus denying the local fans a home win. Former ski jumper Primoz Roglic has long been regarded as one of the biggest stage race talents but he is known as a climber, not a time triallist.

 

Hence, it came as a massive surprise when the Slovenian beat long-time leader Tobias Ludvigsson (Giant-Alpecin) by a massive 8 seconds to move into the lead and it turned out that his time would be very hard to beat for the pre-race favourites. Dumoulin was on track as he crossed the time check in a time that was three seconds better but when he sprinted to the line, it was clear that it would be close. In the end, he just did enough as he beat the Slovenian by less than a second, with Roglic shaking his head in disbelief over his near-miss.

 

Dumoulin still had to wait for Stefan Küng (BMC) and Fabian Cancellara (Trek) to arrive before he could celebrate his first win of the year and he had a scare when he heard that Küng had passed the time check in a time that was just one second off the mark. However, disaster struck for the strong Swiss as he crashed in a turn where Jos van Emden (LottoNL-Jumbo) had gone down earlier in the stage, and as he still managed to post an impressive time of 11.33, 30 seconds off the mark, he was left wondering what might have been.

 

Cancellara had travelled to Apeldoorn as the pre-race favourite but after he fell ill yesterday, his chances were compromised. When he passed the time check with a time loss of 8 seconds, it was evident that there were no miracles and even though he did well to take 8th, it was a frustrating day for the Swiss.

 

Among the GC contenders, Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) was the big winner as he finished the stage in 16th, gaining time on all his pre-race rivals. Alexandre Geniez (FDJ) was just 2 seconds further back while Steven Kruijswijk (LottoNL-Jumbo) gave the Dutchmen reason to celebrate as he was just 3 seconds slower than Nibali.

 

Alejandro Valverde and Movistar had a solid day as Andrey Amador finished third, 6 seconds behind Dumoulin, while the captain lost just 5 seconds to Nibali. Esteban Chaves (Orica-GreenEDGE) lost 11 seconds to the Italian, Ilnur Zakarin (Katusha) 13 seconds, Rigoberto Uran (Cannondale) 14 second, Rafal Majka (Tinkoff) 19 seconds while Mikel Landa (Sky) will head into the road stages with a time loss of 21 seconds.

 

Dumoulin will try to defend his position in the second stage which is an almost completely flat run through the Netherlands from Arnhem to Nijmegen. There’s a small climb 34.7km from the finish but apart from that, there are no challenges apart from the wind which can blow the race to pieces. The stage ends with two laps of an 8.6km finishing circuit where a sprint finish is expected.

 

A flat opener

The 99th edition of the Giro d’Italia kicked off with a 9.8km time trial in the city of Apeldoorn. The course was completely flat and didn’t have many technical challenges, meaning that it was a perfect stage for the big, powerful specialists.

 

It was a sunny day in the Netherlands when Fabio Sabatini (Etixx-QuickStep) rolled down the ramp as the first rider. He stopped the clock in 11.49 which was enough to lead the race for three minutes as neither Mirco Maestri (Bardiani) nor Songezo Jim (Dimension Data) could match his speed.

 

Hofland takes the lead

The first big specialist to hit the course was Anton Vorobyev (Katusha) and he fully lived up to expectations by stopping the clock in 11.38 to slot into the lead. Huge Houle (Ag2r) had a disappointing rider with 11.53 and instead it was Christian Knees (Sky) who got close, missing out on the lead by just a single second.

 

Vorobyev didn’t get much time in the hot seat as André Greipel (Lotto Soudal) went one second faster with 11.37 but it was Moreno Hofland (LottoNL-Jumbo) who made the local fans celebrate. The Dutch sprinter had a surprisingly good ride to take the lead with 11.28.

 

Near-miss for Tuft

Alberto Bettiol (Cannondale), Valerio Conti (Lampre-Merid) and Vegard Stake Laengen (IAM) slotted into the top 10 but it was Svein Tuft (Orica-GreenEDGE) who was the first to get close to Hofland. However, the Canadian missed out on the lead by just a single second.

 

Alexey Tsatevich (Katusha) had a good ride to slot into sixth with 11.40 and there were also provisional spots in the top 10 for David Lopez (Sky) and Albert Timmer (Giant-Alpecin) who both posted a time of 11.45. Jasha Sütterlin (Movistar) was one second faster before Twan Castelijns (LottoNL-Jumbo) continued the great Dutch day by stopping the clock in 11.38 to move into fifth.

 

Best time for Brändle

Everybody was eagerly awaiting Matthias Brändle’s (IAM) arrival after the IAM rider had been faster than Hofland at the time check and the specialist fully lived up to his status as one of the favourites by taking the lead with 11.17. Hofland was quickly pushed into third as Tanel Kangert (Astana) slotted into second with 11.24 before Daniel Oss (BMC) moved into the top 10 with 11.39.

 

Ryder Hesjedal (Trek) kicked off his GC campaign in a solid way by moving into the top 5 with 11.36 and Ruben Plaza (Orica-GreenEDGE) was just fractions of a second slower. However, it was Lukasz Wisniowski (Etixx-QuickStep) who challenged Brändle with 11.23 which was good enough for second. Jean-Christophe Peraud (Ag2r) had a slightly disappointing start as he could only manage 11.41.

 

Ludvigsson takes the lead

Tobias Ludvigsson (Giant-Alpecin) has always been known as a good time triallist but it was a bit of a surprise that the Swede rode himself into the lead, shaving six seconds off the best time with 11.11. Bram Tankink (LottoNL-Jumbo) was the next Dutchman to do well as he narrowly missed out on a top 10 with 11.37.

 

Ludvigsson got a long time in the hot seat as there was a period with no good times until Alexandre Geniez (FDJ) hit the course. The French GC rider posted the same time as the Swede at the time check but had to settle for fourth with 11.24.

 

Solid start for Fuglsang

Pieter Serry (Etixx-QuickStep) was the next rider to slot into the top 10 with 11.35 which was good enough for 8th. Things were less good for Patrick Gretsch (Ag2r) who failed to make it into the top 10 and instead it was Javier Moreno (Movistar) who pushed Serry down one spot by stopping the clock in 11.24.

 

Maarten Tjallingii (LottoNL-Jumbo) kicked off the final race of his career by slotting into 13th before Ramunas Navardauskas (Cannondale) again underlined his good condition by posting the 8th best time. Moments later Jakob Fuglsang (Astana) got his GC campaign off to a great start as he set the 9th best time of 11.31.

 

Keizer misses out

Jack Bobridge (Trek) was far off the pace with 11.45 and instead it was Georg Preidler (Giant-Alpecin) who created a massive surprise by slotting into third with 11.20. Carlos Betancur (Movistar) had a fine ride with 11.40 but it was local hero Martijn Keizer (LottoNL-Jumbo) that everybody was waiting for. The Dutchman had posted the fastest time at the time check but his time of 11.20 was only good enough for fourth.

 

Leigh Howard (IAM) had also been flying as he had passed the time check in the same time as Ludvigsson. However, he faded massively in the final part and had to settle for 12th with 11.33.

 

Major surprise from Roglic

Silvan Dillier (BMC) had played down expectations for his performance but he had a fantastic ride to slot into third with 11.19. Chad Haga (Giant-Alpecin) confirmed that he is back on track with a surprise top 10 spot win 19.19. Tim Wellens (Lotto Soudal) looked like he was on track for a fantastic ride as he was 3 seconds faster than Keizer at the time check. However, he could only manage 11.33 in the end.

 

Instead, it was Primoz Roglic (LottoNL-Jumbo) who created the surprise of the day as he stopped the clock in 11.03 to move into a comfortable lead with an 8-second advantage after having been 3 seconds faster than Ludvigsson at the time check. Moreno Moser (Cannondale) had passed the time check in the same time and slotted into third with 11.15.

 

Fantastic ride by Kittel

Damien Howson (Orica-GreenEDGE) showed why he is a former U23 world champion by posting the 9th best time of 11.22 but it was Marcel Kittel (Etixx-QuickStep) who got all the attention as he stopped the clock in 11.14 which was good enough for third. However, he was quickly pushed down one spot as Andrey Amador (Movistar) slotted into second with 11.09.

 

Manuele Boaro (Tinkoff) narrowly missed out on the top 10 with 11.21 but it was local hero Jos van Emden (LottoNL-Jumbo) who got all the attention from the home fans. Starting as one of the outsiders, the Dutchman hit the deck and rolled across the line in 12.19, clearly frustrated. Roger Kluge (IAM) sprinted past him to slot into the top 10.

 

Difficult day for Landa

Davide Formolo (Cannondale) lost a lot of time with 11.53 and Manuel Quinziato (BMC) had a disappointing rider with 11.39. Things were much better for Chaves who posted a good time of 11.33.

 

Bob Jungels (Etixx-QuickStep) was one of the pre-race favourites but he could only manage sixth with 11.16 before Zakarin stopped the clock in 11.35. Landa suffered on the flat course and crossed the line in 11.43.

 

Dumoulin takes the lead

The Spaniard was nearly caught by Dumoulin who sprinted towards the line in a nail-biting drama that saw him cross the line with just enough to take the lead. Valverde slotted into the top 10 with 11.27 while Majka was 14 seconds further back.

 

The Dutchmen had more reason to cheer when Kruijswijk posted a time of 11.25 which was 11 seconds better than Uran. However, it was Nibali who won the GC battle as he slotted into 15th with 11.22.

 

Küng had gone down in a crash after a very good start but still crossed the line in a solid time of 11.33. Dumoulin now just had to wait for Cancellara to arrive but as the Swiss could only manage 8th, he could celebrate even before Michael Hepburn (Orica-GreenEDGE) had reached the finish in 19th.

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