Cycling: Giro d’Italia
Lukas Postlberger (Bora-Hansgrohe) won the opening stage of the 2017 Giro d’Italia, slipping away from the sprinters in the final kilometer. Caleb Ewan (Orica-Scott) took 2nd place and Andre Greipel (Lotto-Soudal) was 3rd. Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka had both Kristian Sbaragli and Ryan Gibbons finish in the top 10.
The 100th edition of the Giro d’Italia got underway on the island of Sardinia with the riders taking on a 206km stage from Alghero to Olbia. It was a predominately flat stage which suited the sprinters, but with 3 small categorised climbs out on route, the first King of the Mountains jersey was up for grabs. Daniel Teklehaimanot had this jersey in mind and so the Eritrean champion made sure he found the early break of the day.
Teklehaimanot was joined by 5 others as they put 7-minutes into the peloton during the early kilometers of the stage. Unfortunately for Teklehaimanot, the climbs were rather short and not all that steep, which played into the hands of Cesar Benedetti (Bora). The Italian won the first 2 GPM’s, ensuring he would wear the first Maglia Azzurra.
As the sprinters teams moved to the head of the peloton, the gap to the break started to drop rapidly with riders battling the head wind. It was inevitable that the group of Teklehaimanot would be caught, and the catch took place with 4km to go. Our African Team had prepared the leadout for our two fast men, Sbaragli and Gibbons, and both were well placed for the finale.
The technical run-in to the line made it difficult for any single team to take control of sprint though and this played into the hands of Postlberger. The Austrian rider was leading the race with 1.5km to go when the rider behind him could no longer hold his wheel through the corners. Everyone was playing catch up when the road finally straightened but Postlberger had enough of a gap to take the stage and first Maglia Rosa of the 100th Giro d’Italia.
Sbaragli was our first rider home as his fast finish secured 6th place. Our young South African, Ryan Gibbons got his first grand tour off to a fantastic start by placing 8th in the sprint. Thanks to his efforts in the breakaway, Teklehaimanot took the combativity prize and leads the intermediate sprint classification, which made the first day of the Italian grand tour a success for our African Team.
Kristian Sbaragli – Rider
The team did a pretty good job going into the corner with 2.5km to go. Fortunately the speed slowed a bit as I had lost position and Nathan Haas then brought me back into the top 10 positions. Moving up like that meant I had to do a sprint before the final effort, so I couldn’t do my maximum to the line. We are looking forward to the next stages, the spirit in the team is really good, I am feeling good and you could see all our guys were strong today.