Australian team Mitchelton-Scott put its GC leader Adam Yates in prime position to start Tirreno-Adriatico with a win in the stage 1 team time trial Wednesday in Lido di Camaiore, Italy.
Yates, who was fifth last year in the seven-day stage race, took a seven-second advantage on his nearest rival, Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma). Roglic’s Dutch team sat in the hot seat for a while before Mitchelton-Scott scorched the 21.5km course in a 57.546kph average speed.
Team Sunweb, led by 2017 Giro d’Italia winner Tom Dumoulin, finished third on the flat opening stage, 22 seconds adrift.
Mitchelton-Scott’s Michael Hepburn took the race’s first overall leader’s jersey because he was the first rider of his team to cross the finish line.
“I didn’t expect to be in this position when I woke up this morning,” said Hepburn, 27. “We obviously had a great squad here for the opening stage.
“We’re not targeting just the stage but also supporting Adam Yates on general classification.”
The teams that started early in the order had to contend with rainy conditions. As the day went on, the sun came out, offering dry roads for the final teams on the start list.
Unfortunately, the early part of the race was marred by a significant crash for the Bora-Hansgrohe team. A pedestrian crossed right in front of the speeding cyclists. Oscar Gatto and Rafal Majka could not avoid the person on the wet roads and crashed heavily. Their team went on to finish 19th.
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Mitchelton-Scott also had a near miss with a pedestrian, dodging a woman and her dog just before the final kilometer.
“We got a fright when we saw the Bora guys,” added Hepburn. “And then the dog… Luckily we saw it, it could have been more serious.”
His leader Adam Yates was pleased that the team won the opening stage.
“We’ve been trying to win a team time trial for a long time, I think I’ve been here four or five years now and every time we try, every year we bring a super-strong team and we’ve been close and now we’ve finally got it!”
The race continues Thursday with a 195km stage from Camaiore to Pomarance that finishes with a 5.9km climb at a moderate 4.5 percent average gradient.