Mikkel Honoré leads the Italian race after the opening day.
Our team racked up its 30th victory of the season in style, thanks to a superb collective effort, on stage 1b of the Settimana Internazionale Coppi e Bartali. After a quiet opening stage in the morning, the race scheduled a team time trial in the afternoon, and our squad – comprising João Almeida, Andrea Bagioli, Mikkel Honoré, James Knox, Pieter Serry and Mauri Vansevenant – recorded a quality display on the 13.3km-long course.
Despite being among the early starters and having a very young line-up, the Wolfpack put in a flying ride and averaged a stunning 54.95km/h, covering the route in 14:32, the fastest provisional result at the finish by quite a margin. When all was said and done at the end of the day, eight seconds separated Deceuninck – Quick-Step from Ineos Grenadiers, who concluded the stage as runner-up, with Bora-hansgrohe being a further three seconds adrift.
First rider over the line was Mikkel Honoré. The 23-year-old, who is only into his second pro season, took to the podium three times: to celebrate the stage success with his teammates and then to receive the white and orange jerseys, which reward the general classification leader and the best young rider of the race. It was a special moment for Mikkel, who tops the overall standings at a race for the first time in his career – a result that he was quick to underline wouldn’t have been possible without the help of the team.
“We wanted so much to win this stage, but when we heard that all the other squads had finished and we still had the best time, it surprised us a bit. We gave 110% and displayed an incredible team spirit and a huge amount of ambition. Everything went perfect today, our Specialized bikes were superb and I can tell you that I’ve never done such a good TTT as a whole team. This performance was truly amazing, even more impressive considering we are a team of light guys, and this only proved that when you work as a real squad, you can achieve anything.”
“It means a lot to lead a stage race for the first time in my career and I owe it to the Wolfpack. I got to wear a distinctive jersey also last year, in China, but it wasn’t mine, as the GC leader was topping also the youth classification, so the latter jersey landed on my shoulders. We’ll continue to do our best over the next few days and go for more nice results here in Italy”, a delighted Mikkel explained.
Photo credit: ©Justin Setterfield / Getty Images