GENOA, Italy (VN) — The Giro d’Italia truly began rolling when it left Sanremo for Genoa, further east along the Ligurian coastline. And just like every year, crashes played a part.
After the first stage on the bike path to Sanremo on Saturday, the corsa rosa hit the open roads for Genoa on Sunday. The 197 riders covered most of the 177 kilometers without problems, but once they entered the famous port city where Christopher Columbus set sail, the crashes followed — one at 50km to race, one at 24, one at 17.5 and another at 12.
Belgian Pieter Serry (Etixx-Quick-Step) and Panamanian Ramon Carretero (Southeast) did not finish. Others lost time.
“It was bad news with Serry, who was one of the important guys for the climbs,” Colombian Rigoberto Urán said of his teammate in a press release.
“He couldn’t avoid [the crash]. It’s a pity. The final was nervous, but considering everything it was well covered by the team.”
Overall contenders Canadian Ryder Hesjedal (Cannondale-Garmin), Italian Domenico Pozzovivo (AG2R La Mondiale), and Belgian Jurgen Van den Broeck (Lotto-Soudal) were all part of the mess. None was hurt badly.
Pozzovivo suffered the worst of the classification men. He made his way around a crash, but reported that he had a problem and had hit his leg against the bike. He lost a minute and nine seconds on the other favorites, including Spaniard Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo) and Australian Richie Porte (Sky).
“You see it, every day, today and tomorrow,” Contador said. “You can lose time anywhere in this Giro, and you have to pay attention.”
Among the favorites, Contador leads. He has six seconds on Fabio Aru (Astana), 12 on Urán, and 20 on Porte.
Hesjedal and Van den Broeck chased and rejoined in the closing 9km around Genoa. They now sit 70th and 48th in the overall, respectively.
Tinkoff drove the pace for much of the closing kilometers to keep Contador safe. Astana and Sky moved to the front to protect Aru and Porte in the final 5km.
Italian Elia Viviani (Sky) did not seem to mind the usual chaos that comes with the first road stage of a grand tour. He survived and won the stage. Australian Michael Matthews (Orica-GreenEdge) placed seventh and took the pink jersey from his teammate Simon Gerrans.
“It was quite difficult,” Matthews said of the stage.
“If you were in the middle of the bunch, it was quite sketchy. I was lucky to have some big guys to look after me.”
Viviani gave Sky its first success in the Giro and himself his first grand-tour win. He has won stages in WorldTour races, like the Critérium du Dauphiné, and lower-ranked races, but never raised his arms in victory in a grand tour. On Sunday, in Genoa, that changed.
“I lacked a big win and everyone knows that,” Viviani said. “This is the biggest win since I’ve been pro, I’ve spent a lot of time and effort to get to this point, but I’ve always believed in it. I never gave up hope.”