Chris Froome‘s bid to win his first Giro d’Italia started with a clear time trial defeat by arch-rival Tom Dumoulin (Team Sunweb) on Friday as the Briton shipped 37 seconds to the Dutchman in stage 1’s short but punishingly difficult race against the clock.
Froome’s day had not begun at all well after he crashed heavily, albeit at a slowish pace, when testing his line on a corner of the technical time trial at race speed. Although the Team Sky rider fortunately only suffered surface wounds, and although he did not seem to have any problems pedalling in the time trial itself, as Froome drily put it later, “when you crash, it always hurts.”
With no team buses shipped over for any of the squads in Israel, Froome spent a lengthy period of time sitting at one end of the long white tents that housed the Team Sky operations at the start/finish area, talking to Team Principal Dave Brailsford and other members of staff.
Then having warmed down on the rollers as usual, watched and filmed by a waiting throng of journalists and well-wishers, Froome took a pragmatic approach to his defeat in the interviews, pointing out that such an emphatic victory by Dumoulin was not so surprising, and that his strategy for winning the Giro d’Italia this year was based on damage limitation in the time trials, not gaining an advantage.
“My compliments to Tom, because it was a very difficult, very technical course and I’m glad I didn’t lose more time. To come here and win out of the blocks – that’s seriously impressive, so congrats to him,” Froome said afterwards. Asked how he rated his own performance, Froome said he had never expected to win the stage – “not at all” and pointed out that while he was behind Dumoulin in the overall standings, he was not so far back.
“There are other GC riders there or thereabouts” – at 37 seconds, like Froome. “Tom and Rohan Dennis (BMC Racing Team) were the ones who really gained time today, but there’s still a long way to go.”
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