The BMC Racing Team and leader Cadel Evans endured a chilly, rain-soaked opening road race stage of the Giro d’Italia Saturday in Northern Ireland.
The peloton allowed a four-man breakaway to enjoy a lead that peaked at nearly seven minutes midway through the 219-kilometer race that started and finished in Belfast. After the last of the quartet was reeled in with 3.5 km to go, Marcel Kittel (Team Giant-Shimano) won the bunch sprint ahead of Nacer Bouhanni (FDJ.fr) and Giacomo Nizzolo (Trek Factory Racing). Evans finished 56th and three seconds off the winning time, as there was a split in the peloton after 20th place. “It was quite a long stage to have in the rain and it was quite cold,” Evans said. “The goal for us today was to stay safe. It takes good work by the team to stay out of trouble and arrive safely. We have a really good team here and the result in the time trial was the first sign of that.” In the overall standings, Evans is 14th, 10 seconds behind new race leader Michael Matthews (ORICA-GreenEDGE), who took the maglia rosa from his teammate, Svein Tuft.
Always Around Evans
BMC Racing Team Sport Director Fabio Baldato said it was a hard day with the rain, which was heavy at times. “Our guys were well organized,” he said. “I saw them many times all together. They raced around Cadel and they know what he asks and what he needs. It’s great to see.” Baldato said several riders were specifically charged with guiding Evans through the final kilometers of the stage. One of them, Manuel Quinziato, said the first road stage of a grand tour is always hectic. “Together with Daniel Oss, Steve Morabito and Danilo Wyss, we did a really good job to keep Cadel safe,” he said. “It was wet and everyone is still fresh, so they were really fighting. But you can see the level of the race is really high. There were no crashes because the riders here are really good.”
Bookwalter Enduring Pain
Brent Bookwalter, who crashed Friday during reconnaissance of the team time trial course, said he struggled with pain in his right knee throughout the five-hour race. “It was really, really bad at the start – even putting light pressure on the pedals,” he said. “So it was a little demoralizing having that much pain this early in the race. There is still so much racing ahead.” A stage winner at the Tour of Qatar last year and silver medalist in the U.S. national time trial and road race, Bookwalter said Monday’s rest day for the transfer to Italy should provide some respite. “It definitely gives me hope that my body can get on top of the pain and soreness and come back good in the rest of the first week,” he said.
Listen to complete comments from Baldato, Bookwalter, Evans and Quinziato on the BMC Racing Team’s special Giro d’Italia Audio Line: