Posted by Editoress on 05/4/18
The 101st edition of the Giro d'Italia opened on Friday, breaking new ground by becoming the first Grand Tour to go outside of Europe for the start in Jerusalem, Israel. Thousands of fans came out to see what has been billed as the largest sporting event to ever take place in Israel.
Defending Giro champion Tom Dumoulin (Team Sunweb) came into the race wearing the Number 1 and the rainbow stripes of world time trial champion, and he showed no hesitation in declaring that he intends to defend his title, winning the 9.7 kilometre time trial through the streets of Jerusalem to pull on the Maglia Rosa of race leader.
Rohan Dennis (BMC), only the 42nd rider to start, laid down what would prove to be a stellar time of 12:04, which would hold up through every other rider until Dumoulin, the final starter, who beat it by two seconds. Victor Campenaerts (Lotto Soudal) took third, only a few hundredths behind Dennis.
"It was a technical course," said Dennis. "It was hard to get a rhythm and it was challenging. I would have liked the roads to be a bit smoother but you can't have everything. I did everything I could and the only way I can judge how I rode is my position at the end of the day. I was pretty relaxed until the last half an hour of the race. I knew Tom was going to be the big rival today and he proved that by taking the win. There were a few other riders that I was surprised about. There was nothing I could have done better today. I was just beaten by the better guy."
Dumoulin said: "It's been quite a cool few days in Israel and today tops it off with the win. I knew that I felt good but you have to see how things go during the race. We've worked really hard over the last few months, so I'm really happy with the win because it confirms that all of the work has paid off. The course was really good for me; it was really technical and I’m good on the corners. I could go full gas, then recover, then go full gas and recover again. It’s nice to be in the Maglia Rosa but it will be hard to keep it for three weeks. We aren’t planning on defending it every day so we will see what we do with that in the coming days.”
A couple of the GC favourites suffered crashes in training on the twisting course earlier in the day - Chris Froome (Team Sky) and Miguel Angel Lopez (Astana). Froome would finish 21st, conceding a damaging 37 seconds to Dumoulin.
The three Canadians were not in contention, with Mike Woods (EF Education First Drapac Cannondale) the top finisher in 76th at 1:02. Svein Tuft (Michelton-Scott) was 139th at 1:25 and Guillaume Boivin (Israel Cycling Academy) was 157th at 1:41.
The race moves to the coast for Stage 2 on Saturday, running south from Haifa to Tel Aviv for 167 kilometres, and is expected to end in a sprint finish. The third and final day in Israel continues south, starting in Be'er Sheva and finishing on the Red Sea in Eilat after 229 kilometres. This stage runs through the desert, and heat and wind could be a significant factor.
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