Bob Jungels, who is making his third appearance at the race, ended the day as Deceuninck – Quick-Step’s highest finisher.
Saturday’s 8.2km ITT was the fourth time the Giro d’Italia visited Colle della Guardia, at the top of which the Santuario di San Luca can be found towering over Bologna, a city that got to host the start of the Corsa Rosa again after 25 years. The 2.1km-long lung-busting ascent averaged 9.1%, but ramped up to double-digits in some sections and really took its toll on the riders, who faced a rather unusual Grand Tour opening day.
Bob Jungels was the first Deceuninck – Quick-Step rider to leave the start house and the Luxembourg Champion blasted through the checkpoint at the foot of the climb, setting the best time on his way to a provisional third at the finish, where he stopped the clock in 13:40. Despite his result being bettered by the end of the stage, Bob – a two-time winner of the white jersey – finished as the team’s best-placed rider, just outside the top 10.
“I had a very strong pace on the flat, but was missing just a little bit in the final kilometer of the stage. Maybe I was a bit too enthusiastic before hitting the steep part of the course, but overall, I am satisfied with my result and I’m glad that the race has finally kicked off and I have good feelings.”
One of the two Grand Tour debutants on the Deceuninck – Quick-Step squad, alongside Mikkel Honoré, James Knox was overwhelmed by the incredible atmosphere at the start and the huge cheers coming from the crowds as the road pitched up under the flamme rouge and the gradient began to bite, but despite the suffering, he still savoured the beauty and emotion of an unrepeatable moment.
“It was pretty crazy out there, I’ll give you that. I tried to manage my effort, but got a bit carried away and had nothing left inside the final kilometer and a half of the stage”, explained the Cumbrian, fifth in the best young rider classification. “I haven’t been that nervous in a long time and tried to remain composed, but it all kicked in before the start. Despite that, I tried to remain focus and now I am relieved that I finally got things underway.”
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