Primoz Roglic blows away rivals with statement of intent after opening-day time trial win at Giro d'Italia

John MacLeary
Primoz Roglic rides towards the first maglia rosa of his career on the opening day of the Giro d'Italia - 2019 Getty Images
Primoz Roglic rides towards the first maglia rosa of his career on the opening day of the Giro d'Italia - 2019 Getty Images

Primoz Roglic laid down an early marker at the Giro d'Italia on Saturday as the Jumbo-Visma rider won the opening time trial in Bologna to take the first maglia rosa in the three-week race.

Roglic, who arrived in blistering form having won all three races he has started in 2019, blew away his general classification rivals when the Slovenian set a time of 12min 54sec for the short, but punchy, 8.2km course through the historic capital of the Emilia-Romagna region.

“I’m happy with it. It went well, I finished good and I’m happy with today’s performance,” said Roglic. “It’s nice [to be in the lead]. It’s quite an advantage so I’m really happy with it.

“It’s a nice gap and you always want more and more, but a win is a win. The first day is behind us and it’s a really nice start.”

Simon Yates (Mitchelton-Scott), who on Friday night sounded bullish, saying his rivals should be "s------ themselves" at the prospect of facing him, finished second on the day, 19sec adrift of Roglic.

Following the disappointment of his collapse at last year's race when he lost his leader's pink jersey with two stages remaining, the Briton will be buoyed by his performance which saw him finish 4sec ahead of two-time winner Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain-Merida) while former world time trial champion Tom Dumoulin (Sunweb) was a further 5sec back.

Another Briton, Tao Geoghegan Hart, produced a stunning performance on only his second grand tour outing following last autumn's Vuelta a España. The Team Ineos rider who along with team-mate Pavel Sivakov is riding as co-leader, finished in seventh spot, just 35sec behind Roglic.

It was heartbreak, however, for  Japanese rider Hiroki Nishimura (Nippo Vini Fantini Faizane) who was eliminated after finishing outside the time limit. The Giro continues on Sunday with the 205km second stage from Bologna to Fucecchio and concludes in Verona on June 2.


Yates falls short . . . just

Wonderful ride by Simon Yates. The Briton finished with a time of 13min 13sec, the second fastest on the day. Yates will start Sunday's 205km second stage from Bologna to Fucecchio in second place on general classification, 19sec behind Primoz Roglic.


Yates out of his saddle

Simon Yates has passed through the steepest section. He's out of his saddle which may not be the most efficient way to pedal, but it suits him. In fact, he has passed his minute man Fernando Gaviria (UAE Team Emirates).


Yates off the pace

Simon Yateswas 18sec slower than Primoz Roglic at the bottom of the climb. He's now out of his saddle, climbing this short but vicious 2.1km climb. The crowds are cheering Yates along; they love him.


All eyes on Yates

The sun has gone down in Bologna, the the focus remains on the road as Simon Yates edges his way towards the bottom of the climb where we will get the first indication of his form. Primoz Roglic is watching on.

roglic - yates
roglic - yates


Yates' race is under way

The boy from Bury has rolled down the starting ramp. He sounded bullish last night, saying his rivals should be "s------ themselves" at the prospect of facing him. He has previously admitted to having "unfinished business" at the Giro d'Italia following last year's extraordinary collapse.


Two minute to go till Yates goes off

Kamil Gradek(CCC Team) is out on the course but, quite unbelievably, the television cameras are not focusing on him. Disappointing. Disappointing, that is, if your name is James Dunn.

Elia Viviani is on the climb to San Luca; Primoz Roglic is stretching out as he waits at the finish line while Simon Yates is just minutes away from getting his time trial under way. Can the Briton topple the Slovenian and take the magila rosa on the opening day? Personally, think it would be better for him if he didn't win – imagine the questions he will have to face, day after day, Anyway, time will tell. 


Dupont time 

Hubert Dupont(Ag2r-La Mondiale) is out on the road right now. The 38-year-old has finished more Giri d'Italia than any other rider that is here this year, that's 11 by the way. The Frenchman has no wins – that's zero (0) wins on his palmarès.


One for our Polish readers . . .


Sosa, so meh!

Iván Sosawill not be giving the management at Team Ineos any leadership concerns overnight. The young Colombian finished 1min 56sec down on virtual leader Primoz Roglic which, by my reckoning, is 1min 21sec slower than the British squad's fastest rider: Tao Geoghegan Hart.


Sosa, so good

Iván Sosa, who won the Tour de l'Avenir last year, has got his grand tour career under way. The Team Ineos rider is currently out on the course. Not too sure what to expect from the young Colombian, but it will be interesting to see what happens with the British squad's collection of youngsters. 




Breaking Gradek news!

Kamil Gradek, one of CCC Team's many Polish riders, is due down the starting ramp at 6.34pm and look, he's warming up . . .


Carapaz pips team-mate Landa

Just looking at the results sheet and see that Richard Carapaz completed his ride around 20sec faster than team-mate Mikel Landa. The Ecuadorian finished here in fourth spot last year and, in theory, is riding in support of the Basque. However, that result may just unsettle the status quo in the Movistar team. If, that is, there is a status quo in the team. They have a history of naming two or even three leaders in the grand tours, they definitely like to keep their options open.

Esteban Chaves, meanwhile, was 1min dead slower than virtual leader Primoz Roglic. The smiley Colombian is here this year riding in support of team-mate Simon Yates who, presumably, is on the rollers right now warming up for his 'race of truth'.


Not quite Pole position

By the way, Rafal Majka (Bora-Hansgrohe) leapfrogged ahead of Tao Geoghegan Hart into fifth spot. Today's a slightly peculiar day inasmuch as ordinarily we would have most of the big hitters going out last. However, as mentioned earlier today due to the forecast rain most of the main protagonists have already hit out. Simon Yates (Mitchelton-Scott) is, more than likely, the only genuine contender to follow and he will not roll down the starting ramp for another hour and 20 minutes. With that in mind, and the fact that I am trying to pace myself over the next three weeks, forgive me as I soft pedal for the next hour or so. You don't really want a blow-by-blow account of Kamil Gradek's (CCC Team) time trial, do you?


The jersey boys?

By the way, Pavel Sivakov (Ineos) failed  to rip up any trees and completed his time trial over a minute down on Primoz Roglic. Presumably, that would make Tao Geoghegan Hart the protected rider for the British team Ineos, providing no other Ineos riders pull off a surprise here today.

Meanwhile, Giulio Ciccone (Trek-Segafredo) has set the fastest time of the day – thus far – on the category three climb (6min 1sec). I hadn't actually realised this, but the climb was being timed and will go towards the mountains classification so unless Ciccone's time is beaten later today, the Italian will take the first maglia azzurra, or blue jersey, at this year's Giro d'Italia. As it stands, Miguel Ángel López would take to white jersey (maglia bianca) as best young rider. Primoz Roglic, obviously, the pink (maglia rosa).


Deadpan Roglic responds to taking virtual lead . . .

After setting a blistering time on this opening-day time trial, Primoz Roglic has just given his thoughts.

"I'm happy with it," the Slovenian said. "It went well".

Indeed it did, but how are you feeling about taking the virtual maglia rosa?

"We have to wait until the finish".

And what about your lead, you lead Tom Dumoulin by 28sec.

"Ok, nice".


Tao talks

Tao Geoghegan Hart (Ineos) has been talking, between the gasps of breath following that huge effort. The 24-year-old admitted he "paid a little bit there" towards the end of the climb and said he felt as if he was "was going backwards".

After losing their leader – Egal Bernal – in the countdown to the race following a training accident, Geoghegan Hart and team-mate Pavel Sivakov, who is out on the course right now, were handed co-leader duties by the Ineos (née Team Sky) management.

Somewhat poetically, Geoghegan Hart concluded his interview with Eurosport by claiming he was got at by Satan:

"I felt so, so good and then all of a sudden the devil came and hit me with a big hammer."


Get Carthy!

A decent time was posted by another Briton, Hugh Carthy (EF Education First), who completed his time trial 47secs slower than Primoz Roglic. Can't imagine the lad from Preston is thinking about general classification, but he's a very good climber and managed a top 10 finish on the final stage at this year's Tour of the Basque Country. If my memory serves me right, Carthy showed himself well last year with a strong ride on the road to Gran Sasso on the second of his two completed editions of the Giro.


Landa loses ground early on . . .

Mikel Landafinished his time trial over a minute down – 1min 7sec to be precise – on Primoz Roglic.

Mikel Landa - Credit: EPA
Mikel Landa finished over a minute down on Roglic Credit: EPA

Meanwhile, young Briton Tao Geoghegan Hart (Ineos) who is one of 52 riders making their Giro d'Italia debuts today, completed his time trial in 13min 29sec. Not too shoddy from the 24-year-old from Hackney. In fact, that was 11sec quicker than time trial specialist Bob Jungels (Deceuninck-Quick Step).


Roglic puts rivals in the shade  

Primoz Roglic, the Slovenian who has won every stage race he has started this year – UAE TourTirreno-Adriatico and Tour de Romandie – has blown the rest away and set a new fastest time of 12min 54sec. That's 23sec quicker than Vincenzo Nibali and a further 5sec ahead of Tom Dumoulin. Wow.

Mikel Landa (Movistar), meanwhile, is having a nightmare. The Basque is losing lots and lots of time to his rivals in the general classification here today.


Nibali bites back

Oh good lord, Vincenzo Nibali, has gone five seconds faster than Miguel Ángel López and Tom Dumoulin. The old man of the peloton  – he's far from the oldest, that dubious honour goes to Markel Irizar (Trek-Segafredo, 39y + 95d) – has laid down an early marker here, but one imagines Primoz Roglic will beat his time soon. 

Vincenzo Nibali - Credit: EPA
Vincenzo Nibali during his opening-day time trial in Bolgna Credit: EPA


Big shock!

The man they call Superman back in his homeland of Colombia, has clocked a new fastest time. That's right folks, the 25-year-old Miguel Ángel López (Astana) has gone faster than Dumoulin – by a matter of hundredths of a second. Primoz Roglic, though, was fastest at the time split at the bottom of the climb.


Big crowds, big noise

Absolutely huge crowds lining the climb. Vincenzo Nibali, unsurprisingly, is getting cheered on by the tifosi. 

Pre-race favourite and a rider who is perfectly suited to this punchy time trial in Bologna Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma) and Mikel Landa (Movistar) are out on the course.


Early marker set

Tom Dumoulin tackled the steepest section of the San Luca climb where, after a slight wobble, he regained control. Though brief, the Dutchman got out of his saddle which, if the road is wet later, would cause Simon Yates big problems. Riding steep climbs when there is some moisture on the road can be a treacherous affair. Completed his ride in 13min 22sec,  at a speed of just under 36km/h.


The Shark sets sail!

Italian rider Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain-Merida), who has was the Giro twice previously, is out on the course while further up the road Tom Dumoulin has hit the climb and has stuck to using his time trial bike. 


López joins the early charge 

Miguel Ángel López (Astana), one of my picks for the overall in Verona in a little over three weeks, was the fifth rider down the ramp and the young Colombian has joined Tanel Kangert (EF Education First), Ilnur Zakarin (Katusha-Alpecin) and Nans Peters (Ag2r-La Mondiale) out on the road ahead of Davide Formolo (Bora-Hansgrohe) and Bob Jungels (Deceuninck-Quick Step) while world hour record holder Victor Campenaerts will be up next.


And we're off!

Tom Dumoulin has just rolled down the starting ramp to get the 102nd edition of the Giro d'Italia under way. The 2017 champion is, as expected, on time trial frame with aerodynamic bars and a rear disc wheel. Looks relatively sunny, but there are a few pillowy white clouds scattered around overhead (where else would they be?).


For those that do like all this tech-talk . . .

Here's a video from our friends over at GCN . . .


Zone technique . . .

I'm not really one for talking gear ratios or chainrings – although I did read somewhere earlier today that world hour record holder Victor Campenaerts of the Lotto-Soudal team recently hit out on a 61-teeth front chainring, which scared me a little – but there appears to be an interesting development ahead of today's time trial. Ordinarily, teams and their riders would need to do any bike change during a stage by taking a new bike from the top of the team car – or neutral service. However, I understand that today the UCI race commissaires have given special dispensation for a 'stationary' bike change. In other words, the team are allowed to stand in a fixed position with a new bike and are then allowed to give a push of no more than 10 metres. But what is the relevance of all this, you may be asking yourself?

Well, given that the opening 5.9km is more or less panflat one would imagine most riders, particularly the more proficient testers, would opt for a time trial bike, replete with a rear disc wheel and, perhaps, a tri-wheel on the front. However, given the final climb up to the San Luca Basilica tops out at 16% in gradient, some may prefer to tackle it on their road bike. I think it was at the Tour of the Basque Country earlier this year where we saw one or two attempting a tough opening-day 'race of truth' on their time trial bike and that didn't work out too well. So we may see something a little like this later today . . .



Ciao, buongiorno  and welcome to our live rolling blog from the opening stage of the 102nd edition of the Giro d'Italia, the punchy looking 8.2-kilometre individual time trial in Bologna.

Today's action will get under way at 3.50pm (BST) when Tom Dumoulin (Sunweb) rolls down the starting ramp which surprised me a little as  I had expected the 2017 champion to be one of the later starters. However, with a heavy downpour forecast later in the early evening out in the historic capital of the Emilia-Romagna region, a good number of the general classification contenders have decided to take earlier slots. Only Simon Yates (Mitchelton-Scott) has stuck with the original time allotted to and so the Briton will get his race under way at 6:43pm. What do Mitchelton-Scott know that the others don't? Have they got an in-house meteorologist? Will the plan backfire spectacularly a la Bradley Wiggins's prologue at the 2010 Tour de France in Rotterdam? Anyhow, enough guessing what may or may not happen, here's a full list of what time the riders will start (note these are European times, if you are in the UK then take an hour off) . . .

The course itself starts off in the centre of Bologna and, at first appears relatively benign; there are a couple of sharp turn which, if that rain does turn up, may prove tricky – especially on a time trial bike – before the final, sharp, right-hand turn towards San Luca Basilica.

Stage one, map
Stage one, map

As you can see from the profile of today's stage, the real test comes in the final quarter of the short opening-day time trial. Just 5.9km into the 3,518.5km journey from Bologna towards Verona, the riders will face not only their first time check, but also their first climb. There's no two ways about it, after today we should know who packed their legs for the opening grand tour of the season.

stage one
stage one

Here's what the Giro d'Italia organisers are saying about this final, horrible, looking climb . . .

The closing phases of the stage are very demanding: 2,100 metres before the finish, the route takes a sharp U-turn to the right, and the climb to San Luca begins.

The climb alternates sharp ramps – up to 16% – and short lengths with 8-9% gradients. The roadway is narrowed and runs along an arcade, climbing all the way to the sanctuary.

The road reaches the maximum gradient after the first pass under the cloister, by a double curve (“le Orfanelle”). The home straight is short (90 m), and the finish line sits on 5m tarmac.

Stage one, final km
Stage one, final km

Today will be the fourth time the Giro has visited San Luca Basilica – ok, I know they won't necessarily 'visit' the church, but some riders may be hoping for some divine intervention this afternoon. The first time was back in 1956 when Charly Gaul won a short three-kilometre time trial. That day, though, is best remembered for Fiorenzo Magni completing the stage while clenching an inner tube between his teeth. The Italian Magni was riding with a fractured collarbone and was unable to pull on his handlebars. You have, I'm sure, seen this picture a thousand time before. If not, here it is again . . .

Moreno Argentin won here in 1984 when a road stage finished atop the climb, while back in 2009 Simon Gerrans reined back in a young Chris Froome to win the one and only Giro stage of his career.