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Itzulia Basque Country stage 1: Primož Roglič rips opening time trial

Olympic time trial champion bettered the time of Remco Evenepoel and Rémi Cavagna in opening stage.

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Primož Roglič (Jumbo-Visma) ripped the opening stage time trial at the 2022 Itzulia Basque Country.

The Tokyo Olympic time trial champion averaged 45.9kph on a very technical 7.5km route that featured a handful of turns, and even a cobbled climb in the final kilometer.

“It was a super technical time trial, with lots of corners, hairpins… But I had good legs. It was a ten-minute effort, so there couldn’t be huge gaps at the end. But it’s always good to have a small lead, even if it doesn’t mean anything,” Roglič said.

Remco Evenepoel (Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl) had been in the “hot seat” — with the best time of the day — for fewer than 10 minutes, after unseating teammate Rémi Cavagna.

Jumbo-Visma, Quick-Step, and Ineos Grenadiers dominated the top of the results list in the opening stage, with only Bruno Armirail (Groupama-FDJ) and Ion Izaguirre (Cofidis) managing to break the strangle hold of the powerhouse teams in the top 11 places.

Adam Yates (Ineos Grenadiers) set the early best time, and was in the overlead for the first several hours of the day.

His teammate and 2018 Tour de France winner Geraint Thomas was just 2 seconds faster through the intermediate time check, and ultimately held on to slot into the top spot by just .24 seconds.

Soon after, French rider Cavagna dethroned Thomas by just 2 seconds. His time stood as the fastest for the following three-quarters of an hour until the young Belgian rider Evenpoel obliterated the elder Quick-Step riders’ time by 8 seconds at the intermediate check and added 3 seconds more of padding by the finish.

Roglič confidently rolled out of the start house and rode surely on the first half of the course — which was less technical than the latter half — just .56 seconds slower than Evenepoel at the first time check.

On the back half of the prologue-length route, Roglič, aboard a bike decked with gold — not yellow — paint befitting of the Olympic champion, was a second faster at an unofficial time check at the three-quarters-distance mark, and ultimately was 5 seconds faster than the rest of the best where margins were less than 1 second.

“We knew it was going to be a kind of [result], because it was a very technical and very short course. But I have nothing to regret,” observed Evenepoel. “I rode as fast as I could, but there was just one guy who pedaled faster. It’s a bit the same as on the Tirreno-Adriatico. It’s sad to still be second on the first day of a WorldTour race… But tomorrow is a new day. Winning this race will be difficult with guys like Roglič, but we will do everything to be on the podium.”

Tuesday’s stage 2 is 207.6km, from Leitza to Viana, in the Navarre region of Spain. It features two category three climbs, and a cat two climb to Lizarraga, which is 9.6 km at 5.4 percent.

Results will be available once stage has completed.

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