The first Grand Tour of the 2021 season officially started on Saturday afternoon, in the streets of Torino. A short time trial opened the 104th Giro, and just like last year, the world champion of the speciality Filippo Ganna took the win and the pink jersey on the opening day. Romain Seigle turned out to be the best rider from the Groupama-FDJ cycling team on Saturday, but the fight is just getting started in Italy.

“I really enjoyed every minute”, Lars van den Berg

Shortly after 2pm, the Swiss climber Matteo Badilatti, starting his first Grand Tour with the team, opened three weeks of adventure for the squad led by Philippe Mauduit, Sébastien Joly and Jussi Veikkanen. About twenty minutes later, Lars van den Berg gave his very first pedal strokes in such a big event. With eyes – and ears – wide open. “I was happy to start my first Grand Tour today with this time trial,” said the Dutchman of 22 years old. “It was a nice lap in the city, and it was amazing to finally have some crowd after all these races with no spectators. It was beautiful to see people on the side of the road. I really enjoyed every minute of it, although it hurt quite a lot!” After he left the ramp at 4:35 pm, Romain Seigle was able to set a solid time of 9’26 on this very fast course that still included a few tricky turns. This earned him the best place for the team in this opening day (41st), 39 seconds behind the winner Filippo Ganna. Rudy Molard, the last Groupama-FDJ rider on course this Saturday, covered the stage just one second slower than his teammate. “I think that’s okay,” he said on the finish line. “It’s a good time among the climbers’ ones. For a start, that’s pretty good. To begin with nine minutes at full speed, it hurts but it allows you to get awake for the three weeks ahead”.

“It was a special effort”, Julien Pinot

“We didn’t have any real specialists at the start,” said Julien Pinot, one of the team’s coaches. “Therefore, our goal was to make sure everyone would do the time trial properly to start the race. We also have quite a few young guys in the team, so in terms of development, it was also important for them to do it well. Our two best riders are in the mix with the climbers and they did good times on this type of course, which obviously favoured the pure time trialists. It was a special effort and we don’t have riders here who are used to working that specific intensity, namely a nine-minute effort “full gas”. The issue was to manage the effort well, as we are not used to practicing it. The trap, in this case, would often be to start off too fast. Some have experienced it, like Attila and Simon today. Having said that, they are young and it’s a good experience for the future”. On Sunday, the Giro will continue to travel in the Piemonte region with a perfect stage for sprinters between Stupinigi and Novara, where the riders will only have to face one, small climb. “The start of next week should suit us more”, added Julien.

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