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May 12, 2019
Photography by Cor Vos
Bologna (Italy) (AFP) – Slovenian Primoz Roglic won the first stage of the Giro d’Italia on Saturday ahead of Britain’s Simon Yates, pulling on the leader’s pink jersey after an eight kilometre individual time-trial.
The three-week race got underway in Bologna and finished with an uphill ride to the Sanctuary of the Madonna di San Luca, overlooking the city in northeast Italy.
Roglic clocked 12min 54sec to finish 19 seconds ahead of Yates, who declared on Friday he is “the number one favourite” this year, with last year’s winner and fellow Briton Chris Froome not competing.
“The important thing is to be in pink on the final day (June 2),” said Roglic, riding for the Jumbo-Visma team, who becomes the first Slovenian to wear the leader’s jersey.
Italy’s former two-time winner Vincenzo Nibali of Bahrain-Merida was third fastest at 23sec with Dutch rider Tom Dumoulin, the 2017 champion, just behind at 28sec along with Colombian Miguel Angel Lopez.
Spaniard Mikel Landa of Movistar trailed more than a minute behind his rivals.
Roglic opted to start among the early riders with the threat of bad weather looming with only Vuelta a España champion Yates, of Mitchelton-Scott, sticking with tradition and going off among the favourites later.
The weather remained dry even if the wind got stronger as the hours went by which could have hampered Yates who came close to winning the race last year before collapsing in the mountains two days from the finish.
Roglic gained time on the flat around Bologna, to build up an 11sec advantage on Dumoulin at intermediate stage.
He widened the gap on the climb up to San Luca, over 2.1km with a 9.7 percent gradient, and had time savour his performance, having to wait nearly three hours for the conclusion of the stage.
For the 29-year-old Slovenian, a former ski jumper, it was the 30th victory of his career, and eighth in a time trial.
This season, Roglic won three stage races, the UAE Tour, Tirreno-Adriatico and Tour de Romandie, as he warmed up for his second appearance in the Giro.
He came close on his debut in 2016 to pulling on the pink jersey in the opening time-trial only for Dumoulin to snatch victory at Apeldoorn, the Netherlands.
This time the Dutch rider could not match Roglic.
“I gave it everything, I was at the limit,” said Dumoulin.
Sunday’s second stage covers 205km between Bologna and Fucecchio, finishing in the Tuscany hills, which should benefit the punchers, who specialise in rolling terrain with short but steep climbs.
Primoz Roglic (Slovenia / Team Jumbo – Visma) pictured during 102nd Giro d’Italia (2.UWT) – stage 1 (ITT) – tIme trail individual from Bologna to San Luca (8.2KM)
1 Primoz Roglic (Slo) Team Jumbo-Visma 12:54:00
2 Simon Yates (GBr) Mitchelton-Scott 0:19:00
3 Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Bahrain-Merida 0:23:00
4 Miguel Angel Lopez (Col) Astana Pro Team 0:28:00
5 Tom Dumoulin (Ned) Team Sunweb
6 Rafal Majka (Pol) Bora-Hansgrohe 0:33:00
7 Tao Geoghegan Hart (GBr) Team Ineos 0:35:00
8 Laurens De Plus (Bel) Team Jumbo-Visma
9 Bauke Mollema (Ned) Trek-Segafredo 0:39:00
10 Damiano Caruso (Ita) Bahrain-Merida 0:40:00