Trek-Segafredo wins Giro Rosa’s opening TTT, Longo Borghini leads race

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Trek-Segafredo took home the chocolates at stage one of the Giro Rosa, a team time trial in Grossetto, Italy. They finished just ahead of Boels Dolmans in second and Mitchelton Scott in third. Seconds separated these three teams, after the 16.8km circuit, with Boels Dolmans three seconds behind and Mitchelton Scott under five seconds back.

Elisa Longo Borghini, the only Italian on Trek-Segafredo’s roster for the Giro Rosa, will wear the pink jersey on stage two tomorrow. She was second overall in 2017 and is now the first Italian to wear the pink jersey since 2008.

Borghini has been vocal about her love for Italy during the coronavirus pandemic and her passion for riding as a tribute to her country, now capped by the leader’s jersey in her home tour. Trek-Segafredo will not be giving it away without a fight.

The small time gaps mean that the battle for the general classification will not be massively affected by the opening team time trial. The course was about as flat as possible and not exceptionally technical, taking Trek-Segafredo 20:05:99 from start to finish.

Results

1. Trek-Segafredo – 20’05”
2. Boels Dolmans Cycling Team – 20’08”
3. Mitchelton-Scott – 20’10”
4. Equipe Paule Ka – 20’15”
5. Team Sunweb – 20’19”
6. Canyon // SRAM Racing – 20’21”
7. CCC – Liv – 20’46”
8. Ceratizit – WNT Pro Cycling Team – 20’48”
9. ALE BTC Ljubljana – 20’53”
10. Valcar – Travel & Service – 20’55”
11. FDJ Novelle Aquitaine Futuroscope – 21’25”
12. Movistar Team – 21’27”
13. Bepink – 21’28”
14. Lotto Soudal Ladies – 21’43”
15. Cogeas – Mettler Pro Cycling Team – 22’01”
16. Top Girls Fassa Bortolo – 22’18”
17. Astana Womens Team – st
18. Cronos Casa Dorada Women’s Cycling – 22’25”
19. Aromitalia Vaiano – 22’37”
20. Bizkaia Durango – 22’55”
21. Eurotarget – Bianchi – Vittoria – 22’56”
22. Lviv Cycling Team – 23’05”
23. Servetto – Piumate – Beltrami TSA – 23’10”

More results to come.

Team time trials, a bit of history

Team strength, communication, and practice are the qualities it takes to win a team time trial, and before the start of the Giro Rosa it was already clear that Trek-Segafredo possesses them all. Since the end of the lockdown, the riders have been to multiple team camps together, solidifying their ability to work as a single unit. This was clear at La Course a few weeks ago with Lizzie Deignan and Elisa Longo Borghini’s exceptional team tactics.

The first integration of the team time trial into the Giro Rosa was in 2004. Prior to that, the race consisted purely of road races and individual time trials, with the odd prologue in some years. In its first year, the TTT stage was stage five, nowadays the UCI only allows team time trials in the first third of the stage race. After 2004, the TTT wasn’t part of the Giro Rosa until 2017, when it again became a regular feature. Since then, the race has started with a team time trial every year.

Over the years the team time trial has slowly become absent from other races. It was dealt a blow when the UCI pulled the TTT from the World Championships after 2018 in favor of a mixed team relay. An underrated event, the team time trial can make or break a team’s GC hopes. It favors the teams that are able to spend quality time working on the exchanges while putting significant thought into who will be placed where in the line-up, and who should take longer vs shorter pulls.

For example, the smallest rider is generally placed in front of the strongest rider, because the strongest rider can deal with the loss of draft more so than a weaker rider. In a team time trial, a team is only as strong as their weakest rider, and if they lose riders due to lack of planning or bad legs, the entire team will suffer.

Trek-Segafredo on the TTT podium at the start of the 2020 Giro Rosa. Photo Anton Vos/Cor Vos © 2020

This event is a beautiful one. When a rider wins a race only that person is able to stand on the podium, but it is rarely a solo effort that will deliver a victory. Only in the team time trial does a team get to stand shoulder to shoulder on the podium and spray champagne at each other.

This year there is only be one TTT on the WorldTour calendar. Next year, maybe two. It was also the only event that trade teams competed in at the World Championships, so the only chance for teams to collaborate for the rainbow jersey.

Surrounded by her team on the podium of the Giro Rosa, Elisa Longo Borghini got to pull on a pink jersey. Now the question is, how long can she keep it? For fans of Longo Borghini, the answer is until the end. She came into the race one of the favorites, and now the team will carry the momentum of this victory into the rest of the race. Annemiek van Vlueten and others likely have other plans.

Tomorrow, the peloton will see gravel sectors over a tough 125km course with multiple punchy climbs as well as technical descents.

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