Primoz Roglic of Jumbo-Visma is the first leader of the 102nd edition of the Giro d’Italia after winning the Stage 1 time trial in Bologna today, with Mitchelton-Scott’s Simon Yates finishing 19 seconds further back in second place.
The Slovenian, who clocked a time of 12 minutes 54 seconds, was one of several riders expected to contest the overall victory who chose to set off early on the 8-kilometre course in the capital of Italy’s Emilia Romagna region due to forecast rain.
Also hoping to avoid riding in the wet – as it turned out, the expected downpour failed to materialise – were two-time champion Vincenzo Nibali of Bahrain-Merida, who finished third today, and Team Sunweb’s Tom Dumoulin, the winner in 2017, who came fifth.
The first 5.9 kilometres of today’s course were flat, but in the final 2.1 kilometres the route headed upwards towards the hilltop Sanctuary of San Luca, a place of pilgrimage for the city’s population since medieval times.
Today, for many of the riders, the climb with an altitude gain of almost 200 metres and a maximum gradient of 16 per cent and an average of 9.7 per cent would have felt more like purgatory and some elected to switch from time trial to road bikes ahead of the ascent.
Another of the favourites, Vuelta champion Yates, who spent two weeks in the lead at last year's Giro d'Italia, elected to stick to a late start time – he was the last but one rider out on the course – and finished second in a time of 13 minutes 13 seconds.
Tao Geoghegan Hart was the leading rider home for Team Ineos, which as Team Sky won the race last year as Chris Froome, who has chosen not to defend his title, completed his hat-trick of back-to-back Grand Tour wins.
The Londoner, who is co-leader of Team Ineos at the race, put in a time of 13 minutes 29 seconds today, the seventh quickest of the afternoon.
Stage winner Primoz Roglic
"It's true that I've had to wait a lot on the hot seat before I was declared the winner but I'm very happy with this victory.
"I didn't have any particular tactic except for going as fast as possible. I'm surprised by the gaps.
"Two days ago I met Gianni Bugno who wore the Maglia Rosa from start to finish [in 1990]. I don't know if I can do this too but the most important is to have the Maglia Rosa in Verona.”
Runner-up Simon Yates
"I did all I could. Maybe I went a little bit too easy at the start but that was also the tactic, you can’t go full gas start to finish, I knew I could gain or lose a lot of time on the climb. It was only a little bit, but it was calculated.
“I felt good. It was only a short effort of course, but I feel good.
“We’ve seen how (Roglic) has been going this year, he’s won every stage race he has started and he also won’t the time trial in Romandie so he is in great form so we were expecting him to be either first or second.
“There was a moment of doubt when I saw everyone was going off early today but we looked at the weather and it looked like it was going to be ok, and it was in the end.
“I am happy the race has started now, I’ve been looking forward to this for a long time and we’re finally here.”
Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.