Giro d’Italia 2014: Grande Partenza – five observations

Michael Matthews marches on but Marcel Kittel plays down red jersey chances

Had the team time trial started just an hour and a half earlier, we could well be talking about an entirely different race by now. The sun shone on Belfast’s Titanic Quarter as the atmosphere built towards the Big Start. Colombia, the first team down the ramp, were sent off to rapturous applause – and then the rain came. It was a scene repeated throughout the weekend as the weather lived up to that predicted and Northern Ireland experienced most of the seasons on each day.

Nairo Quintana rolls out in the rain – again (pic: Sirotti)

But casualties of the wet weather were in their few. Garmin-Sharp’s Dan Martin’s race-ending team time trial crash was the most high profile fall, while Giampaolo Caruso (Katusha) suffered on stage two but recovered to finish the stage. However, predictions of coastal crosswinds failed to materialise and adverse weather conditions could not stop Marcel Kittel (Giant-Shimano) from winning back-to-back sprint stages. Nevertheless, the big golden orb pictured in Bari over the weekend will be a welcome sight when the peloton touches down in Italy.

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