Giro d’Italia 2014: Grande Partenza – five observations

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

For most of the GC contenders, the team time trial passed without too much incident – the unfortunate Dan Martin aside. But Joaquim Rodriguez suffered a disastrous day with Team Katusha, who crossed 93 seconds down on Orica-GreenEDGE. The Russian team shelled riders at an alarming rate, just about finishing with the minimum requirement of five. As early as the first corner they misjudged the road and though Rodriguez was keen to congratulate his team-mates for their efforts immediately after the race finished, it leaves him well behind some of his maglia rosa rivals.

Joaquim ‘Purito’ Rodriguez has time to make up after a disappointing team time trial by Katusha

Though Purito is more than capable of claiming back time in the mountains, his rivals will know they need only to stick with him to keep him well behind on the GC. With two individual time trials to come – and we all remember what happened in 2012 – Rodriguez will need a big win or two to claw back some of the deficit.

As it stands, Ivan Santaromita (Orica-GreenEDGE) leads the men riding for GC – though more realistically it is Rigoberto Uran (Omega Pharma-Quickstep), at 19 seconds back, and Cadel Evans (BMC Racing), a further two down, who are best-placed. Rodriguez is at 1’47”, while Nairo Quintana (Movistar) sits at 1’09”. Expect fireworks from the latter two once the climbing starts.

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