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Come Verona, when the Giro d’Italia concludes on May 29, the time gaps created on stage 1 to Visegràd will matter little but on a day that saw a hectic final, several late crashes, and daylight open up between some of the overall contenders, every second counts at this point.
Mathieu van der Poel (Alpecin-Fenix) stormed to the win and the first maglia rosa of the race but behind him, gaps appeared with several GC contenders caught out and forced to chase. This was a day when the Giro d’Italia wasn’t going to be won, but any mistake may later prove huge in the following weeks. Given that it was also an uphill finish, the usual 3km rule was dropped, meaning that any falls or mechanicals inside that distance resulted in time losses.
In the end, being proactive on the final climb proved to pay off for several pre-race favorites with Richard Carapaz (Ineos Grenadiers) and Wilco Kelderman (Bora-Hansgrohe) both racing aggressively in the final dash for the line. The pair managed to finish in a select group of eight that included the stage-winner Van der Poel, as well as Bauke Mollema (Trek-Segafredo) and Pello Bilbao (Bahrain-Victorious).
Four seconds behind the Van der Poel and Carapaz group came the majority of the GC contenders with João Almeida (UAE Team Emirates), Simon Yates (Team BikeExchange), Romain Bardet (Team DSM), Mikel Landa (Bahrain Victorious), and Hugh Carthy (EF Education-EasyPost) all in the mix. Four seconds might seem like nothing at this point, especially given the amount of time that can be won and lost in the mountains later in the race, but even small gaps can be important at this opening stage of the race.
Firstly, they can tilt opinions in and around teams when it comes to internal leadership, and perhaps on a more relevant note, they will decide the time trial start times for stage 2. Heading out later in the day could give a rider an edge in terms of knowing the time gaps they need to beat.
Losing more than just four seconds were Guillaume Martin (Cofidis), Wout Poels (Bahrain Victorious), and Pavel Sivakov (Ineos Grenadiers), who all lost 12 seconds.