The Giro Rosa 2019 has officially started for Parkhotel Valkenburg with a cruel 18-km team time trial. The stage kicked off in Cassano Spinola and ended 210 meters higher in Castellania. With temperatures between 30 and 35 degrees, there was no denying it was hot. The team made big efforts to keep the riders cool: the Tacx bikes were set up in the dark basement of the hotel, an ongoing supply of wet towels, and the best yet: fresh, blue Slush Puppy available in the truck.
After exploring the course for the last time, the riders set up inside, walking back and forth between their bags left out in the sun and the protection of the cool basement. The numbers were cut into the right shape and carefully pinned to the back of the jerseys. The vibe was good, and lots of laughter was coming from the riders, who were also a bit nervous. For some, it was their first team time trial and they all wanted to do well.
When everyone had gathered and sat down, Bart gave his last pep talk and the game faces were on. Serious tactics were discussed between the riders and in the end, they concluded to go out, have fun and enjoy this stage doing what they do best: race their bikes.
And they did! While dripping in sweat, they left Cassano Spinola under the cheers of locals which they would encounter all the way through to Castellania. The road went up and up and it took a long while for it to go back down. Also, when it did go down, it was steep and windy, thus a technical course on roads of questionable quality (to say the least).
The team worked hard and finished with a time of 34:34, which is the 16th fastest time. Tomorrow, the riders will be ready for a 78,3km loop in Viù starting at 12:15.