Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma) took his second stage victory of the Giro at Sunday’s stage 9 San Marino time trial. The win sees the Slovenian taking victory at both the Giro’s time trials so far.
World hour record holder Victor Campanaerts (Lotto-Soudal) came second, 11 seconds back. He would have won was it not for a mechanical in the closing kilometers. Bauke Mollema (Trek-Segafredo) finished third on the day. Italian Valerio Conti (UAE-Team Emirates) held on to the pink jersey, finishing 38th. Primoz Roglic now sits second overall, 1:50 down on Conti.
Of the other pre-race GC contenders, Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain-Merida) came out winning, losing only 1:05 on Roglic. Simon Yates (Mitchelton-Scott) and Miguel Angel Lopez (Astana) were definite losers however, losing 3:11 and 3:45 respectively to Roglic.
“I did a good job. Everything went good, of course I’m happy with the performance,” said Roglic. “It was a nice TT for me, I did my best, so I’m happy with it. I couldn’t take any risk in the corners [in the rain], so I just went really all out at the end.”
The 34.8-kilometer time trial had a straightforward opening 22km, held on fast wide roads, before climbing for 5km at 6.6 percent, then rolling and twisting for a few kilometers, before finishing off with another two kilometers of climbing to San Marino.
With around 500m of gain, it was far from a typical time trial, opening up opportunities for those less specialized against the clock, and it was expected that Yates may mitigate his losses to Roglic.
As expected, Campanaerts set the mark early on with a time of 52:03, despite a clumsy and time-sapping bike change that looked to be unplanned.
“I had a mechanical in the last 1.5km and that’s frustrating, of course,” the world hour record holder explained. “I had a chain drop. I have to say that we didn’t practice a bike change because I’m not a GC rider, and so in general when you have a mechanical you won’t have a good result anymore.”
Rain was dotting down as the Belgian went out of the gate, but for the rest of the afternoon, it became heavier and heavier.
After Campanaerts, Tanel Kangert (EF-Education First) surprised many with an impressively strong ride into a provisional second place. He was eventually displaced from second by Bauke Mollema (Trek-Segafredo) however, who came in 49 seconds down on the Belgian.
By the time the big hitters in the GC challenge took to the road, the skies were heavy and the roads at the start and end of the course were drenched. Though the flat first 22km of the route was relatively straight, a few tighter turns proved problematic, with Yates in particular looking twitchy through some of the bends.
Bob Jungels (Deceuninck-Quick-Step), an outside contender for the stage victory, and a reference point for the GC men starting behind him, finished with a time of 53:08, 1.05 down on Camapanaerts, enough for 4th on the provisional results sheet.
By the time the main GC men approached the line at San Marino, the rain was falling heavily. Although the latter part of the course was mostly uphill, there were small descents within it, and the greasy roads did those finishing late no favors.
Nibali started relatively steadily, taking no risks in the wet, but recovered well, finishing strongly to place provisionally third, in 52:27.
Miguel Angel Lopez (Astana) had a disastrous day, finishing provisionally 34th, having lost significant time to a puncture.
Yates, despite a strong showing in the opening time trial in Bologna and winning against the clock earlier in the year at Paris-Nice, started strong on the flat, but faded hard on the climb, looking uncomfortable, getting in and out of the saddle, rolling in at 55:03. He lost over two minutes on Nibali and placed provisionally 26th.
Pre-race favorite Roglic went out on the wet roads and by the time he hit the climb was down on stage leader Camapanaerts, but well up on Yates and Nibali. However, he looked comfortable through the climb and finished in imperious form, staying in the TT position where so many had been out of the saddle.
He finished 11 seconds up on Campanaerts, displacing the Belgian from the winner’s hot seat – with the mechanical issues and bike change the Lotto-Soudal man had suffered proving decisive. He held on to the stage victory as the final handful of riders, including Conti, came over the line without being able to challenge him.
“It’s still a long way to go, a lot of kilometers and a lot of mountains,” said Roglic, when asked about the GC situation. “It’s always nice to have some seconds of advantage, now I’m focussing on the days to come.”
Monday sees the peloton enjoying their first rest day before a pan-flat stage to Modena on Tuesday.