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Orica-GreenEdge wins Giro stage 1 TTT, Gerrans takes pink jersey

The 2015 Giro d’Italia opened in much the same way as the 2014 Giro d’Italia—with Orica-GreenEdge winning a team time trial. The Australian squad’s time of 19:26 was good enough for the victory on the 17.6-kilometer stage 1 from San Lorenzo al Mare to Sanremo. Simon Gerrans crossed the line first for the team, earning him the top spot in the general classification and the right to wear the Giro’s coveted pink jersey on stage 2.

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Lampre-Merida got things started under sunny Ligurian skies. The Italian squad’s time of 20:25 was quickly outdone by Ag2r La Mondiale, who didn’t last long in the provisional top spot either, bested by Astana’s 19:39.

Fabio Aru’s team had plenty of time to get comfortable on the hotseat. Team Sky, among the favorites for the stage, put in a time of 19:53, 14 seconds slower than Astana. Etixx-QuickStep came closer at 19:45, but were still six seconds off the mark.

Astana’s time held out as IAM Cycling and Movistar both put in decent rides, but Orica-GreenEdge was not to be denied in the team time trial. The Australian squad bested Astana’s intermediate split, and then added a few more seconds to the advantage in the second half of the course, finishing with a time of 19:26, 13 seconds faster than Astana, with Simon Gerrans leading the team across the line.

Katusha set a strong intermediate time but lost ground between the midway point and the finish, rolling across the line 27 seconds down on Orica-GreenEdge.

Alberto Contador’s Tinkoff-Saxo was the last serious challenger to Orica-GreenEdge. The yellow and blue team set the fastest time at the intermediate checkpoint, but Alberto Contador found himself dangling at the back of the line trying to keep up with the high pace, which may have contributed to a less stellar second half. Ultimately, Tinkoff-Saxo finished the course in 19:33, second on the day and seven seconds behind Orica-GreenEdge. Only Cannondale-Garmin and FDJ remained out on the road, and when both rolled in well off the mark, Orica-GreenEdge sealed the victory, putting Simon Gerrans into the maglia rosa (pink jersey) of the Giro’s GC leader.

“Sanremo is a special place for me and the team,” Gerrans, winner of the 2012 Milano-Sanremo classic, said after the stage. “It’s a fantastic effort by the team, and it’s a real honor to cross the line first, and take the pink jersey. We studied the time trial, we looked at it this morning, and yesterday, and we made a plan. We have a few time trial specialists on the team, and everything went to plan. Thanks to that, we have the win today.

“We knew it was going to be important to start strong, because the second half of the course was more difficult, and we knew it would be difficult to make up time in the second half. Everyone did their job, and did it fantastically. It’s a massive honor to win the maglia rosa, but like all my victories, they are due to great teammates. I should chop the front half of this jersey into nine pieces, to give it to the guys on the team, and the back into 50 pieces, for everyone who supports the team. The goal is to keep the jersey for as long as we can.”

Tinkoff-Saxo’s time was only good for second place, but Alberto Contador now enjoys a lead of six seconds over Fabio Aru, 12 seconds over Rigoberto Urán, and 20 seconds over Richie Porte in the general classification.

“You always want to win, but the objective is to think about the GC, we came out well from the day in the first stage, the most important is to recovery and think about tomorrow – it’s not so much to our other riders, only 6 seconds to Astana, but I felt good, good weather, good result, what else could you ask for?” the Spanish grand tour veteran said.

The Giro d’Italia continues Sunday with a 177-kilometer stage 2 from Albenga to Genova.

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