Primoz Roglic of Jumbo-Visma was the big winner among the overall contenders, and Mitchelton-Scott’s Simon Yates the major loser as he ceded more than 3 minutes to the Slovenian, the winner of today’s individual time trial from Riccione to San Marino. Valerio Conti of UAE Team Emirates retains the overall lead with an advantage now of 1 minute 50 seconds over Roglic, who moves to second overall.
It was Roglic’s second win against the clock in this year’s race after he took the opening day’s short time trial in Bologna, with Yates finishing as runner-up, 19 seconds behind, but it was a different story today as the British rider crossed the line in 55 minutes 3 seconds, with his rival crossing the line in 55 minutes 3 seconds.
Intermittent rain fell during the 34.8-kilometre stage from Riccione near Rimini on the Adriatic coast, which featured a relatively flat opening 22-kilometre first section before heading uphill, with a maximum gradient of 11 per cent lying in wait.
Roglic began the day as the best-placed of the riders expected to dispute the overall victory over the next fortnight, occupying 12th place overall, 5 minutes 24 seconds behind race leader Valerio Conti of UAE Team Emirates.
The Slovenian rider, hunting for his first Grand Tour overall victory, had an advantage of 35 seconds over Yates, with two-time Giro d’Italia winner Vincenzo Nibali of Bahrain-Merida four seconds further back.
By the time that trio were heading up towards San Marino, the rain had returned with a vengeance and would prove torrential by the time the last rider finished, and with a couple of descents to be tackled during the mainly uphill final third of the course it was a nervous afternoon for many.
During the early, flatter part of the course, Yates, who is reportedly carrying a knee injury, had appeared to limit his potential losses well to Roglic, twice before an individual time trial stage winner at the Giro d’Italia, but ebbed time on the ascent.
Nibali, meanwhile, put in a decent ride to lose 1 minute 5 seconds to Roglic, while one of the standout performances came from EF Education First’s British rider, Hugh Cartthy, who put in the eighth-fastest time of the day.
The early pace had been set by Lotto-Soudal’s European time trial champion – and since last month holder of the UCI Hour record – Victor Campenaerts, who clocked a time of 52 minutes 3 seconds, still the second best of the day.
The Belgian would surely have won had it not been for a botched bike change that cost him the best part of half a minute when he swapped to a road bike for the climb and his team mechanic attempted to give him a helpful shove before he’d managed to swing his leg over the top tube and get in the saddle.
Following tomorrow’s rest day, racing resumes on Tuesday with a flat, 145-kilometre stage from Ravenna to Modena, which seems certain to end in a sprint finish.
Stage winner Primoz Roglic
"It’s not a surprise for me to win because in a time trial, I just focus on myself. I rode as fast as possible to the top and it went well. Some luck is also needed for winning. I feel sorry for Victor Campenaerts who had a mechanical.
"As for myself, I recce'd the course on the dry and it was rainy when I raced but I took no risk. Regardless of the time gaps today, many things can still happen until we cross the finish line in Verona.”
Maglia Rosa Valerio Conti
“Maybe I made a mistake with taking the visor off my helmet, I thought the rain was over but, it rained more and more. I possibly have lost about one minute on Primoz Roglic because I didn’t take any risk.
"I just wanted to retain the Maglia Rosa. I want to hold on to it as long as I can. I might not win the Giro this year but I might try to win it in the future.”
Simon Yates, who lost time today
“I had bit of a stinker. I was going OK on the flat section there but when I tried to step on it once we reached the climb, I just didn’t have anything.
“It’s one of those things. We’ll have to come up with a new plan now, a new strategy and go from there.
“We’re still early on in the race. We’ve only done one effort before today, and that was in the prologue, all of the other days have been flat and in the wheels.
“I’m looking forward to getting more and more into the mountains now to see what we can do.”
Victor Campenaerts, second today
“Beforehand, I said that this time trial did not suit me perfectly and that winning wasn’t possible but as a time trialist, you are obliged to optimally prepare for a test against the clock and to go full gas. During the second Giro time trial last year, I was constantly fighting myself but today I immediately felt that I had good legs.”
“The plan was to ride just below threshold until the climb and then ride above threshold; a strategy similar to the one I used during the world championships in Innsbruck. As a time trialist, it is very frustrating when you get a mechanical. Eventually, it was good that - like we had agreed - the mechanic opted for the road bike. We did agree beforehand - if I would have a mechanical on the climb - we would change to the road bike. The change did not go fluently and due to the adrenaline, I was a bit frustrated after the finish. Then, I thought that there would still be five to ten general classification riders who would improve my time, but one after another, they didn’t succeed.”
“I had mixed feelings then. If I would have won, the bike change would have been immediately forgotten. If not, I would be cursing. Unfortunately, it became the latter. Eventually, I lose the time trial with eleven seconds, so without that mechanical it would have been a victory. But those are the hard laws of the top-level sport and I have to live with that. I don’t blame anyone. The final time trial should suit me even better. I hope to survive the mountains without too many troubles and energy losses to battle for victory in Verona.”
Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.