It came, it saw, it conquered. The Giro d’Italia has left Ireland draped in pink and almost as soon as it came, it is now rolling off into the sunset destined for more familiar Italian roads. Marcel Kittel was the big winner, taking two stages, with Dan Martin unfortunately having his race ended.
There is no question that the race organisers will be happy with the way the race was received in Ireland, the enthusiastic crowds that engulfed the streets along the routes, and how the terrain and ‘’slower’’ Irish road surfaces challenged the best riders on show.
The three stages were action packed from start to finish and Ireland will now hand over the baton to Italy, where this fantastic spectacle will reach its’ climax.
The Team Time Trial got underway just before six o’clock in Belfast’s Titanic Quarter. The time for each team would be taken when their 5th rider crossed the finish line. Team Colombia were first of 22 teams off around the 21.7km course.
The story of the stage however, was nothing to do with winners. The fall Dan Martin took on a straight in the opening kilometres would prove fatal to his Giro chances. A broken collar bone to the Irishman would further dampen the spirits of the thousand who lined Belfast’s streets.
Weather would play a huge role in who would pick up the spoils. Orica Greenedge would be the biggest beneficiaries as they would complete their stage in 24:42 in the best conditions. This would prove too tough a time to overcome for teams to follow, especially as the rain clouds gathered.
Victory for the Australian Team Orica Greenedge resulted in Svein Tuft becoming the first wearer of the Maglia Rosa. Omega Pharma – Quickstep would finish second with BMC Racing Team third, Nicolas Roche’s Tinkoff-Saxo fourth and Phillip Deignan’s Team Sky fifth.
Day 2 would have the peloton take on a slightly longer stage, about 196km longer to be precise. The riders were clad in any kind of garment they could lay their hands on in preparation for what the Irish climate would throw at them.
A unique feature the Giro now takes upon itself by having the opening three stages outside the country is a dramatically varying climate. From the North-East coast of Ireland, to the Mediterranean South of Italy, this race will test a cyclist’s ability in all conditions; cold, heat, wind and rain, to an incredibly difficult last week in the Italian mountains.
As is often the case in long, relatively flat stages, a breakaway group sets off and is pursued by the peloton, which the peloton then catches and there is a manic bunch sprint to the finish.
A quartet of Romero, Tjallingii, Armée and Fedi who set off in pursuit of glory, all the while knowing they would be reeled in like a helpless Flounder with a hook in its’ mouth. Orica Greenedge led the peloton in order to get their sprinters into position, with Giant Shimano doing the same for their sprint hopeful, Marcel Kittel, who would claim sprint victory in Belfast. Michael Matthews taking over the leaders pink jersey for Orica.
Stage 3 would take the riders from Armagh into Dublin, where the Irish leg of the 2014 Giro would end. It was a day filled with falls and tumbles but ultimately would follow the same pattern of the day before. A breakaway five of Yonder Godoy, Miguel Angel Rubiano, Gert Dockx, Maarten Tjallingii and Giorgio Cecchinel. Once again they would be caught before a tricky sprint finish in Dublin. Kittel would once again emerge victorious on stage 3, collapsing off his bike at the end, an indicator of how tough the few days in Ireland were.
Monday is a rest/transport day so stage four will take place in Italy on Tuesday from Giovinazzo to Bari.
Overall Standings Top 5:
1 MICHAEL MATTHEWS ORICA GREENEDGE 00:00:00
2 ALESSANDRO PETACCHI OMEGA PHARMA – QUICK-STEP +00:00:08
3 DANIEL OSS BMC RACING +00:00:10
4 LUKE DURBRIDGE ORICA GREENEDGE +00:00:14
5 IVAN SANTAROMITA ORICA GREENEDGE +00:00:14
14 CADEL EVANS BMC RACING +00:00:21
27 NICOLAS ROCHE SAXO – TINKOFF +00:00:37
40 PHILIP DEIGNAN TEAM SKY +00:00:49