Magnus Sheffield gave Ineos Grenadiers a second leader’s jersey and a second leadership option after the opening time trial of Tirreno-Adriatico, again proving his many talents.
The 20-year-old US rider finished 31 seconds behind teammate and stage winner Filippo Ganna but was only three seconds slower than second-placed Leonard Kamna (Bora-Hansgrohe) and gained significant time on a lot of the overall contenders at this year’s Race of the Two Seas.
Sheffield won De Brabantse Pijl last spring and is part of the Ineos Grenadiers ‘next gen’ group of Classics riders. But he can also climb and stage race, as he proved by taking fourth overall at the Tour Down Under in January.
This year’s Tirreno-Adriatico will be vital racing before the Spring Classics but also a test of Sheffield’s stage race credentials. He was a late replacement for Gernat Thomas and also rode Strade Bianche but if Ganna falters on the climbs, Sheffield could become the de facto leader of Ineos Grenadiers.
For now, the American was happy to pull on the best young rider’s white jersey and gain time on a host of big-name overall contenders.
“I’m pretty happy with my result, specially after a quick turnaround from Strade Bianche,” Sheffield told Cyclingnews beyond the rain-soaked finish line on the Lido di Camaiore seafront.
“I knew I had really good legs there but I wasn’t quite sure how I’d go today. I think I can be really happy with my ride”
Sheffield expected Ganna to beat him but disliked being bumped off the hot seat by Kamna after holding the best time for much of the afternoon.
“I’ve been so close to a few wins now in the time trial. I have to be honest, I hate being in the hot seat and then being beaten,” he said with a mix of laughter and seriousness.
“It’s like a ticking bomb. It makes a good show for the television coverage but you never know if it’s going to explode or not, if you’re going to win or get kicked off the hot seat.”
GC prospects and Classics ambitions
Sheffield’s young age and relative inexperience may keep him down the Ineos Grenadiers pecking order but he is nevertheless ambitious.
The British team have Ganna in the blue leader’s jersey, Sheffield at 31 seconds, and the talented Thymen Arensman at 41 seconds. Tao Geogheghan Hart is 18th at 52 seconds, with Strade Bianche winner Tom Pidcock 71st at 1:26.
The British super team will defend Ganna’s lead but Sheffield arguably deserves a protected role, too.
“It was a bit of a later call for me…
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