Addy Engels must have spent most of the countdown to the Giro d’Italia phoning up his riders and asking them to change their plans for May. A combination of COVID-19 and crashes meant that Jumbo-Visma had to substitute no fewer than four of their line-up for the corsa rosa in the four days before the race started.
“I never experienced it myself and to be honest, I never experienced it with any other team, as far as I can remember,” said Engels, a sports director for Jumbo-Visma, in Teramo on Sunday morning. “That was a novelty for me, and one I hope I never have to repeat. But there’s no guarantee. Many people might say we’ve already had our portion of bad luck. Statistically, yes, but there’s no guarantee.”
Whether it was down to the laws of probability or sound positioning, Jumbo-Visma mercifully avoided misfortune on stage 2 to San Salvo, as Primož Roglič avoided the crash that split the bunch with 3.8km to go, coming home safely in the front group alongside maglia rosa Remco Evenepoel (Soudal-QuickStep).
Tao Geoghegan Hart (Ineos Grenadiers) was among the riders held up, losing 19 seconds, and so Roglič gained a place in the overall standings to move into fifth, though his deficit to Evenepoel remains 43 seconds after the Belgian’s supersonic display in Saturday’s opening time trial.
Roglič and Evenepoel were the consensus favourites for this Giro from the moment they confirmed their participation, and the pair marked one another tightly at March’s Volta a Catalunya, with the Slovenian edging the decision by six seconds.
There were no time trials in that race, however, and Evenepoel availed of the Giro’s opening test in Ortona to force significant separation from Roglič. Evenepoel had already handed Roglič a sound beating in the Alicante time trial at last year’s Vuelta a España, but in Spain, his time gain came at a rare 1.55 seconds per kilometre. Here, Roglič lost 2.19 seconds per kilometre to Evenepoel.
“Primož did a good time trial, his values were good. And we have to say Remco did an outstanding time trial and the gaps were big at the finish,” Engels said, though he declined to describe the early gap as a surprise.
“What is a surprise? We all know he’s an exceptional rider. I think the gaps were pretty big between first and second for a TT like this, but then again, we try to take the positive things. Like Primož said, his gap to Filipp Ganna was smaller than at Tirreno-Adriatico and his values were…
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