SAN MARINO, Italy (VN) — To win this Giro d’Italia, Simon Yates will need to do to Primoz Roglic what Chris Froome did to him in last year’s Giro d’Italia.
The 34.8km time trial was a disaster for Yates, who paced well in the flatter first half of the course, but bled time on the final climb to the finish in rainy San Marino.
“I had a bit of a stinker,” Yates said. “I was going OK on the flats, but when I tried to step on it on the climb, I just didn’t have anything. We’ll have to come up with a new plan, and go from there.”
After finishing second to Roglic to open the Giro in Bologna, Yates gave up 3:11 on his Slovenian rival, and plummeted to 3:46 back.
“It certainly puts us in an interesting situation,” Mitchelton-Scott sport director Matt White said. “We have to go over things in detail and change our plan accordingly.”
Sunday’s wet time trial turns the Giro upside down for Yates and Mitchelton-Scott. Instead of being within striking distance of Roglic, who claimed his second time trial victory of this Giro, the team is now on the back foot.
White said he had not spoken to Yates yet after the stage, but confirmed he did not suffer any sort of mechanical or puncture that was might have slowed him down.
“I have no explanation at all,” White said. “He went quite hard to the bottom of the climb, and he must have paid for it. We’ve just got to put it down as a bad day.”
Yates had complained about some minor leg pain, but White said the tape on his knee was a relatively minor adjustment to treat a jiggle from a crash a few days ago.
White was stunned at the unexpected turn of events Sunday.
“We were expecting a similar time loss to what [Vincenzo] Nibali did,” White said. “He wasn’t far off on the splits. He was close to Roglic on the flats, and even at the bottom of the climb he was close to Nibali. And then he lost another 1:50. He never looked comfortable on the bike and couldn’t get his rhythm.”
With Roglic gaining yet more time on all of his direct rivals, the Slovenian will be carrying a comfortable lead into the final week of mountains.
“Nothing is won yet,” Roglic said. “Yates and all my rivals are still dangerous. A lot of things can still happen in this Giro.”
The big question mark is whether or not Roglic can defend in the Giro’s deep mountains. Mitchelton-Scott will be looking for a crack.
Although the team was still taking stock of Sunday’s unexpected losses, White was already turning over scenarios in his mind.
After being on the brutal end of Froome’s come-from-behind victory last year, the team already knows it will need to do something equally dramatic to have any hope of winning the Giro.
Monday’s rest day will be followed up by two more relatively routine sprint stages and then a taste of the Giro’s first major mountains at the end of the week.
White can only take hope that the final hard week could see all the rivals attacking Roglic, and that Yates will find his legs.
“We have not done one climb yet in this Giro,” White said. “If there is any grand tour that can turn around in an instant, it’s this one. Just look what happened to us last year. The difference between a good day and a bad day at the Giro isn’t seconds, it’s minutes.”