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Giro d'Italia

Giro d’Italia: What the stars said after opening stage time trial

Here's what Remco Evenepoel, Egan Bernal, Simon Yates and other top stars said after Turin time trial test.

The Giro d’Italia got rolling Saturday, and home hero Filippo Ganna showed his world title-winning watts with a dominant TT victory.

The 8.6-kilometer stage was too short to see major gains and losses in the GC pack, but Deceuninck-Quick-Step duo Remco Evenepoel and João Almeida will go to bed smiling after taking an early advantage in the battle for the pink jersey.

The pair finished within one second of each other to place fourth and seventh on the stage and claim over 20-seconds’ advantage on top favorites Simon Yates and Egan Bernal.

So, what did the stars say after the Giro’s opener in Turin? Here’s what:

Filippo Ganna (Ineos Grenadiers): Stage-winner

Filippo Ganna put in a dazzling ride to win the stage and claim the pink jersey, going 10 seconds faster than second-place Edoardo Affini with a ride averaging 58.75kph.

There were some questions over the TT world champion’s form heading into his home race this weekend. However, Ganna more than lived up to his rainbow jersey, winning the Giro’s opening stage for the second year in a row after winning the Palermo time trial last fall.

“I didn’t feel ready for this time trial. After Tour de Romandie, my morale wasn’t too high, but now it’s back. I’m really happy.

“I started with a radio but I didn’t hear anything, so I told myself to go full gas and listen to the people along the road. If they cheered for me, I knew I was going fast. That’s how I got this amazing victory.”

João Almeida (Deceuninck-Quick-Step): Fourth on stage

João Almeida started this year’s Giro with the reputation for having the strongest time trial of the GC players, and the 22-year-old duly delivered with his ride to fourth place, 17-seconds back on Ganna. The young Portuguese now sits at the head of the GC pack along with his teammate Remco Evenepoel.

Almeida rode to fourth overall at last year’s Giro, and his TT prowess proved pivotal as he did battle with stronger climbers in the final week.

“It’s good to get a good result. I felt good, which is important and I’m super happy that there’s a good time gap between me and the other GC guys. I hope to keep it that way. It’s always good to start on the right foot. If we can keep the consistency, then I think we can do a good Giro again.

“Everything is possible, like last year. We have to consider it can go in so many different ways and we can’t control the other guys and the other teams, but it’s started good. We have a really strong team to do a good job.”

Remco Evenepoel (Deceuninck-Quick-Step): Seventh on stage

Remco Evenepoel blazed through the opening kilometer of his first race in eight months, and didn’t look back.

The young Belgian cast aside anyone doubting his form after his devastating crash last summer to finish seventh on the stage, just one second back on teammate Almeida. Although the Giro has hardly even started, the 21-year-old will have the wind in his sails after such an impressive comeback from a career-threatening injury.

“I was standing on the start ramp with some tears in my eyes. It was a hard way to come back and start the Giro like this. But immediately a top-10 spot, I didn’t expect it – I’m really happy.

“I wasn’t thinking about the pink jersey or the win, I just wanted to enjoy it and do a good time trial. I’m happy with my race, seventh is just amazing.”

“A short time trial isn’t something that I’m that good at, so I’m just happy. We had a perfect start with the team. It’s a relief of course but we knew that Filippo and the heavier guys are better in short time trials.”

Simon Yates (Team BikeExchange): 37th on stage

Simon Yates rode a solid TT to finish 37th, 21 seconds back on Almeida and in the middle of a large gaggle of GC contenders that all finished within eight seconds of each other.

Yates, Egan Bernal, Pavel Sivakov (both Ineos Grenadiers), Hugh Carthy (EF-Nippo), George Bennett (Jumbo-Visma) and Vincenzo Nibali (Trek-Segafredo) are all closely tied heading into the second stage Sunday.

The next GC shuffle will come on the hilly stage 4 on Tuesday.

Simon Yates: “It was a day to blow the cobwebs out, a tough little opener, but now we have started so I am looking forward to the rest of the race. We have two easier days now then we start getting the harder terrain where I can hopefully do my thing.”

Team director, Matt White: “Today was about getting through safely. There’s a couple of the GC riders that have ridden better but the vast majority of the GC guys are within five or six seconds. Now we can start the real racing tomorrow.”

Egan Bernal (Ineos Grenadiers): 40th on stage

All eyes were on Egan Bernal on Saturday. Like Evenepoel, the former Tour de France champ went into the Turin test with questions over his form after struggling with injuries since last summer.

Not known for his TT prowess, Bernal rode a strong race to finish one second slower than top rival Simon Yates. The Colombian finished 22 seconds back on Almeida and will be relieved to have gotten his race underway.

“I felt really good. Now is just the start and I’m really happy to be here. [Me and Yates] are not TT specialists, so we just go full gas and hope to recover some time on the climbs.

“I’m really happy with the feelings, we’ll see how we are in the next stages.”