“I would normally say yes but I did a really good TT at Paris-Nice,” Simon Yates had said before the start of the Giro d’Italia as to whether the time trials ahead would be a bother to him. “So maybe it’ll be the opposite this year.”
After stage 2, we can conclude that things may indeed be the opposite way around; Mark Cavendish to win atop Mount Etna anybody?
After winning the time trial and zooming up into second overall, Yates was quick to dampen excitement.
“Let’s stay calm guys, let’s not read too much into this. [It’s a] little bit of a surprise, but we’ll take it as it comes. I’m not complaining.”
While the Brit isn’t miffed at a nearly 20-second advantage in the overall over the likes of João Almeida (UAE Team Emirates) and Richard Carapaz (Ineos Grenadiers), both visibly frustrated after the finish that the BikeExchange-Jayco rider had managed to get one over on them, while Tom Dumoulin (Jumbo-Visma) said his second place “sucks” as the stage win was his first big goal. “My feeling is good, but just not good enough.”
Only small time gaps could open on the 9.2 km-long course across the Danube, and Mount Etna already looms ahead when the race arrives in Italy on Tuesday.
“It was a 12-minute effort today, already on Etna it’s going to be one hour,” Yates said, putting his performance into perspective. “A very different race from here on out. Of course – I am glad that I gained time and not lost time, but I wouldn’t read too much into it.”
As for Mount Etna, the first real test for the overall contenders, has the UCI gone too far this time in getting riders once again to ride up an active volcano in one of the most elaborate threats to their safety?
“It can go off, but it’s alright,” James Knox (Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl) deadpans when asked about the volcano. “They would just have to stop the stage.”
And are his descending skills sufficient to get out of the way of any lava?
“Hopefully good enough.”
With the first time trial out of the way, only a sprint stage stands between the 2022 Giro and Italy, where the GC race will begin in earnest.