Mark Cavendish surrenders Giro lead to Team Sky

After stage one, I wondered how Mark Cavendish would cope when he realised that hills would be added to corners thus increasing the difficulty of the Giro d’Italia. I got my answer after the team time trial.

“It was all left, right, up and down. It was difficult for me and the team.”

Cavendish’s Omega Pharma-Quick Step team finished 48 seconds down on Team Sky, who won the stage.

Climbers or time trialists?

However, there seems to be some debate about how much up and down there was and precisely what this might mean. Cadel Evans’ BMC Racing Team finished 37 seconds down and their race director, Max Sciandri, said:

“I think if you look at the winning team, it is more of an imprint of a climber team. We had some really good guys who can go on the flats like a regular time trial. But we struggled a little bit with some guys on the climbs.”

Except that Carlos Betancur and Domenico Pozzovivo, who are most definitely climbers in a climbing team, lost 50 seconds. Perhaps it was best to have strong all-round riders. If so, maybe this stage says more about the race as a whole than team trials usually do.

In that case, what’s been said?

Technically, Salvatore Puccio is in the lead, but Bradley Wiggins is on the same time, which is more meaningful. Vincenzo Nibali is reasonably happy 14 seconds down, although it’s worth remembering that last year’s Giro was only decided by 16 seconds. Michele Scarponi is 22 seconds down and Ryder Hesjedal will be a bit disappointed after finishing 25 seconds down, because his Garmin team are usually good at this kind of thing.

However, a 17.4km ride during which you are heavily dependent on your team-mates can only say so much about a race lasting 3,000km which goes over countless steep hills and mountains.

Basically, you can’t really judge a restaurant by its olives unless they’re truly awful. Nobody’s team trial olives fell into that category, although Cadel Evans maybe had to pick out a few foreign bodies from among his. Team Sky’s olives were most appealing, but man cannot live off olives alone.