The opening act of the 40th Giro del Trentino Melinda saw Vincenzo Nibali the Astana team score an emphatic win in the 12.1 km team time trial effort from Riva del Garda to Torbole, giving the edge to the Italian over his expected rival, Mikel Landa and his Team Sky. The two teams inverted their starting order, as the British team was the first down the ramp of the “Garda Trentino Opening” ahead of Astana, but it was immediately clear at the intermediate that the light-blue line-up was absolutely flying on the route.
Fourteeen seconds is the gap Mikel Landa had to surrender to Nibali, the same as AG2R’s Romain Bardet and Domenico Pozzovivo, who finished third for a matter of hundredths of seconds. The hopes for the third rider from Trentino to wear the first leader’s jersey vanished as Gianni Moscon could not stretch the tradition: the rider from Val di Non was the first Team Sky’s man to the line, but he eventually had to stand with the KOM and best youngster’s jerseys after day 1.
It was a day of celebration for Astana, and particularly for Nibali’s long-time domestique Valerio Agnoli, who wore the first leader’s jersey of Giro del Trentino Melinda: a well-received reward for the 31-year-old Italian, one of the closest men to the Astana’ leader.
“My relationship with Vincenzo goes well beyond the job – explained the fuchsia jersey – and today he made me a beautiful gift: I was not supposed to be on his wheel at the start, but when he saw where I was he probably decided in a second. At the finish, I didn’t even realize I had passed first!”
The Giro del Trentino Melinda leader’s jersey comes a reward for many years of restless work for his leaders: “I think it’s important in life to do your work with soul and dedication. Life as a domestique is not easy, but I feel blessed to have been riding on the side of great champions like Ivan Basso and Vincenzo Nibali, and I have always felt part of their success. Today, again, the team put on a huge effort, and for once I was on the top of it.”
With the top riders in the space of fourteen seconds, tomorrow the classification is all but certain to be revolutionized by the uphill finish to Anras, Austria, at the end of stage 2, 220 km from Arco to the Tirol’s town (start at 8.45, live TV from 13.00 to 14.30). A 4 km ascent, short and explosive, where many riders could pay the toll after a weary and lengthy effort. “I would obviously like to keep the jersey,” Agnoli said, “but our priority will be to bring Vincenzo in the best position into the final kilometres. And then, there are other teammates I should pay close attention to, namely Michele Scarponi and Jakob Fuglsang who are riding great.”
Two things are ensured: we are up for an exciting effort, and we will see a very strong leader on the stage tomorrow. Who he will be, the road will tell.
Photo: Daniele Mosna