I have to say how much I’ve enjoyed the SBS coverage of the spring classic one day races. Clearly the standout performer this year has been this man, Alejandro Valvarde.
The Spaniard wins so many races that his exploits in the Ardennes sometimes go a bit unnoticed, but he fully lived up to his status as the favourite in all the races in 2015.
The Movistar rider just missed out on the Ardennes clean sweep, pipped on the line by Etixx-Quick-Step’s Michal Kwiatkowski in the Amstel Gold Race. But that minor blip on the palmares was recovered a few days later when he won Flèche Wallonne. Keep in mind that he’s the same age, 35, as the soon to be retired Bradley Wiggins.
However, the Giro d’Italia is now underway and again its Orica-GreenEdge giving other teams a lesson in how to do team time trials. The Orica-GreenEdge covered the 17.6km course in 19 minutes and 26 seconds (54.3km/h average), seven seconds ahead of Tinkoff-Saxo and another six seconds faster than Astana. That’s about 25km/h faster than I can manage along Beach Road.
At the intermediate time check, 9.9km into the stage, the Orica-GreenEdge squad lead Astana by eight seconds. Much of the damage had been done by three of the team’s time trial specialists Luke Durbridge, Brett Lancaster and Michael Hepburn. I have to say I really felt for the team’s specialist climber Esteban Chaves, who looked like a 12 year old, tailing behind the bigger Australians. At 55kg, Chaves is 25kg lighter than the other guys and looked to be hanging on to the last wheel as if his life depended on it.
You have to wonder how practice these other teams put into the discipline of chain gangs and riding team races. Most teams seemed to have formations that were at best untidy at worst disjointed. Mind you it helps it have Olympic team pursuit medalists in the team.
Nevertheless last night was a great win for Simon Gerrans who has been beset by bad luck and injury for the last 12 months. The final results for stage 1 were:
Stage 1: 17.6km team time trial, San Lorenzo al Mare – San Remo
1 Orica-GreenEDGE 19min 26sec
2 Tinkoff-Saxo 0:00:07
3 Astana 0:00:13
4 Etixx-Quick-Step 0:00:19
5 Movistar 0:00:21
6 IAM Cycling 0:00:25
7 BMC Racing
8 Sky 0:00:27
9 Trek Factory Racing 0:00:29
10 Lotto Soudal 0:00:31
Tonight’s stage in the Giro d’Italia is a 177km stage from Albenga to Genoa which has only one small classified climb and which will almost certainly end in a bunch sprint. I reckon Simon might be turning up for a second maglia rosa later tonight.
See you on the road