Finally. There was a collective sigh of relief as the 100th edition of the Giro d’Italia got underway in Alghero on Friday. The waiting to race can feel even more stressful than the actual racing.
Stage one followed the usual pattern for the first 203 kilometers of the 206 kilometer day. An early breakaway of six riders slipped up the road. They gained a maximum advantage of around seven minutes before the teams with an interest in the sprint began to reel them back towards the bunch.
The catch was timed perfectly. Gruppo compatto four kilometers from the finish.
Shortly after the catch, there was a crash. No one looked injured but more than half the peloton lost time. The crash did little to disrupt the stage set for the projected mass sprint until…
Lukas Pöstlberger (Bora-Hansgrohe), working for his sprinter Sam Bennett, opened up a small gap between himself and Caleb Ewan (ORICA-SCOTT). The technical run-in worked to Pöstlbreger’s advantage. He had a healthy advantage in the final few hundred meters and sat up before the finsih line in Olbia to celebrate.
Kristijan Koren, Davide Villella and Davide Formolo finished on bunch time.
We asked our Giro nine to tell us their highlights/lowlights from the opener.
Hugh Carthy: Staring the Giro, getting the ball rolling, getting the first stage ticked.
Kristijan Koren: Finishing the first stage.
Pierre Rolland: The tifosi. I love the fans at the Giro d’Italia. They’re crazy – a good crazy.
Davide Formolo: The best I think was when we had a lazy moment in the race. We were 100km from the finish line and 100km from the start. The bunch was relaxed. We went up these amazing rocks and came to a really nice view of the sea. I was happy I could enjoy it at that moment.
Mike Woods: Starting the race.
Davide Villella: Massage
Joe Dombrowski: Relative ease and lack of chaos at the start for day one. Normally the first day of a Grand Tour can be wild.
Tom-Jelte Slagter: That we got started finally the Giro. We rolled out of the town.
Alex Howes: Getting the hair gel exactly right.*
Hugh Carthy: Losing a minute. It’s disappointing today. After three weeks, hopefully I’ll think: “Oh. That was nothing.” I got caught out by the crash, but I didn’t take any risk to be in front of it, so…
Kristijan Koren: The feeling in the bunch before the first climb.
Pierre Rolland: The crash at 4km to go, but really it wasn’t so bad. No bad today.
David Formolo: It was a nice day. There is no worst.
Mike Woods: Losing 13 seconds. They’re not going to be the end of the world, but I didn’t want to lose those 13 seconds yet.
Davide Villella: When the alarm rings.
Joe Dombrowski:It was long. It was over 200km and nearly six hours of racing. We didn’t finish until late.
Tom-Jelte Slagter: It got stressful in the end. In one of the last corners there were some gaps. Pretty shit for the first day.
Alex Howes: Dropped a sandwich I was really looking forward to eating.*
**Howes’ responses as imagined by team photographer Ashley Gruber as Howes was unavailable for comment on this piece.