As the Giro d’Italia departs Israel for Sicily, few riders will be more pleased with their first three days of work than Simon Yates (Mitchelton-Scott), who produced the time trial of his life on the opening day in Jerusalem and then preserved his gains on two fraught sprint finales.
Yates set out on his debut Giro mindful of the need to limit his losses to Tom Dumoulin (Sunweb) and Chris Froome (Team Sky) in the race’s two time trials, and he could scarcely have asked for a better start to his race.
When the Giro resumes in Catania on Tuesday morning, the Briton will be in 6th place overall, just 20 behind seconds behind Dumoulin and some 17 seconds ahead of Froome, who produced a subdued time trial after crashing during his pre-stage reconnaissance.
“When we saw the course under closed conditions, we realised the course suited Simon even more than the profile suggested, because there was a lot of climbing and changes in rhythm,” Mitchelton-Scott directeur sportif Matt White told Cyclingnews in Be’er Sheva on Sunday. “But Simon’s been preparing well for time trials anyway, because he knows how important they are if you want to win these races. It’s a lot harder if you give away a lot of time.
“We’ve experimented with some different positions and we found one that’s not a big, big effort for him to stay in. You can put anybody in faster positions in a wind tunnel and make them more aerodynamic, but they’ve got to be able to sustain that position in longer time trials. He’s really comfortable in that position now, so it’s good.”
A more robust examination of Yates’ time trialling will come on stage 16, where Dumoulin, in particular, will look to hammer home his advantage against the watch in the 34km leg from Trento to Rovereto. A year ago, Dumoulin effectively won the Giro in the long time trial to Montefalco, but that stage was some 10 kilometres longer and came a whole week earlier in the race.
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