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The New Zealand national champ lost 3:06 to stage-winner Joe Dombrowski (UAE-Team Emirates), and ceded important terrain to his direct GC rivals. The Jumbo-Visma captain tumbled to 34th overall at 3:10 back to new pink jersey Alessandro De Marchi (Israel Start-Up Nation).
“I made a big mistake with the clothing, and I took the jackets off too early,” Bennett said at the start Wednesday. “I got really frozen on the last downhill. I got really cold there in the end, and it’s not easy to put out the watts. It was not good yesterday. It was really disappointing.”
💬 "On such a climb this time loss is a lot, but on the other hand we have also just started. A lot can still happen." – @AddyEngels
— Team Jumbo-Visma cycling (@JumboVismaRoad) May 11, 2021
Bennett, 31, came into the Giro leading the powerful Jumbo-Visma outfit, and was hoping to have a clear run in an all-out bid for captaincy in the overall.
A wet and chilled Bennett lost contact when the favorites surged clear on the day’s final climb late in Tuesday’s stage, losing more than a minute to riders like Egan Bernal (Ineos Grenadiers) and Mikel Landa (Bahrain-Victorious). That came on top of other losses in the opening-day time trial against the likes of Remco Evenepoel (Deceuninck-Quick-Step).
“You have to keep the faith,” Bennett said. “I know I am good, and I think it’s important not to get your head down and keep fighting. It’s not what we wanted to do, and no one is more disappointed than me. It’s a long race, and I am going to continue as normal, and fight for every second.”
Other GC favorites who struggled Tuesday in the cold and wet conditions included João Almeida (Deceuninck-Quick-Step), Vincenzo Nibali (Trek-Segafredo), and Marc Soler (Movistar).