After Friday’s great success, the Giro d’Italia had another great day in Budapest on Saturday, during a short time trial which gathered a lot of crowds. Attila Valter could once again enjoy his popularity while Tobias Ludvigsson set the fastest time for the Groupama-FDJ cycling team, thirty-seven seconds behind winner Simon Yates. Sunday, the first real sprint of the race comes as the first major goal for Arnaud Démare and his teammates.
The scenery of the second stage was worth a look on Saturday, through some of the main monuments of Budapest and along the Danube. However, the riders did not really have time to appreciate it throughout their roughly 12-minute effort. The distance was short (9.2 kilometres) but the course was tricky. “The time trial was quite special since it was flat, technical, with a series of turns in the first part”, introduced Anthony Bouillod, one of the team’s coaches. “Then the last kilometre was uphill with a steep part including 14% gradients and cobblestones. It was quite unusual.” Clément Davy was the first member of the group to appear on the launch pad, shortly after 2 p.m. Jacopo Guarnieri, Ramon Sinkeldam then followed, as well as Miles Scotson and Arnaud Démare who set decent, quite similar times, in 12’32 and 12’36 respectively. After taking the start just before 4 p.m., Tobias Ludvigsson did better in 12’27, but the Swedish time trialist was still quite far from the best competitors. Last member of Groupama-FDJ to tackle the course, Attila Valter benefited from a lot of encouragement before crossing the line in 12’41.
“Tomorrow, the first big goal”, Arnaud Démare
“We are a bit disappointed with the result because we had hoped for better, especially with Tobias who was very motivated but who did not have such good legs today”, said Anthony. “If we take some perspective, we also realize that the first technical part did not necessarily disadvantage the climbers compared to the time trialists. When we look at the final classification, there are a lot of climbers/punchers in the front. This is not insignificant, and it proves that it was not really a time trial for pure specialists”. After a frustrating final on Friday, Arnaud Démare was able to test his legs in this second day of racing, and he was rather happy with it. “It was a good time trial”, said the Frenchman. “I like to do the time trials properly, which is what I did today. Physically, the legs felt good, including in the last climb. Tomorrow is the first big goal, and we are all very motivated”. “It was also important to produce a good effort, without going all-in either, in order to maintain a good momentum for Sunday,” added Anthony. As for Attila Valter, he had another dream day. “It was really incredible”, he confessed. “I wanted to make the most of it and try to do a good time trial, of course. I have no regrets; I did my best. When I started the climb, there was so much cheering that I couldn’t help but sprint. I paid for it a little later (smiles) but I had plenty of time to enjoy it”.