Cycling

Froome Off Pace As Dumoulin Powers To Victory In Giro Opener

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Britain’s Chris Froome, who crashed in practice, finished 37 seconds behind winner Tom Dumoulin on the first stage of the Giro d’Italia in Jerusalem.

The 32-year-old landed heavily on his right hip hours before the 9.7km time trial but said later that his injuries were “superficial”.

Bandages were visible under the Team Sky rider’s jersey as he finished 21st.

Defending Giro champion and world time trial champion Dumoulin beat Rohan Dennis by two seconds to win the stage.

Froome explained that he lost his front wheel in a corner during the morning’s practice.

“It’s not ideal to race just after having a crash, but that’s bike racing and it’s all part of the sport,” he added.

“A few guys came down today and some were pretty badly injured so I was just grateful it wasn’t more serious.”

Image: GETTY caption: Froome crashed during practice for the first stage of the Giro

Britain’s Katusha-Alpecin rider Alex Dowsett was fifth, 16 seconds behind the pink jersey, with compatriot Simon Yates of team Mitchelton-Scott, a climbing specialist, impressing as he finished a further four seconds back in seventh.

It was a gutsy ride from Yates, who said in the stage-by-stage guide he compiled for the BBC Sport website that it would be a day for him to limit his losses.

For Dumoulin, it was a “perfect” victory.

“I knew I felt good,” said the Dutchman. “This is all I wished for, the win and a lot of time on other General Classification riders, so it was perfect for me, perfect for the team.

“It’s nice to have the pink jersey today but it’s a long race.”

Speaking about Froome he added: “If you crash in the recon, it does not make you very confident for the real race.

“He definitely lost a bit more time in the corners than he would normally do. That is very unfortunate for him.

“I did not expect to take so much time on him and the other riders.”

Froome not the only one losing time

While Froome shipped 37 seconds, some of the other contenders for the overall title fared even worse.

Italian Fabio Aru was 50 seconds down on Dumoulin, while Esteban Chaves of Colombia was 46 seconds adrift.

French hope Thibaut Pinot, however, was four seconds quicker than Froome.

Team Sky rider Froome is aiming to become only the third rider to win three successive Grand Tours, after victories in the Tour de France and Vuelta a Espana last year.

The Giro is the only Grand Tour Froome has not won and victory would see him become just the seventh rider in history to have won the hat-trick of the Tour, Vuelta and Giro during their careers.

The four-time Tour de France winner has gone into the race under scrutiny, after he was found to have double the allowed level of a legal asthma drug in his urine after a test at last year’s Vuelta.

Saturday’s second stage is a 167km flat race from Haifa to Tel Aviv.

Analysis

Yolande Knell, BBC Middle East correspondent, Jerusalem

The Canadian-Israeli cycling enthusiast credited with bringing this prestigious sporting event to Israel, Sylvan Adams, sees it as great PR – a chance to show the country as safe and “normal” rather than associating it with war and conflict.

But that’s an idea that has angered Palestinians, who were further disappointed that two teams with Arab ownership decided to take part.

Human rights groups tried – and failed – to lobby the Giro owners to rethink the location of the ‘Big Start’, accusing Israel of “escalating violations of international law”.

The race course carefully avoids East Jerusalem and its Old City – which the international community considers occupied territory – but when the Giro billed the opening leg as in “West Jerusalem” it only stirred up controversy.

Israel – which sees the entire city as its undivided capital – complained and the location was changed to “Jerusalem”. That, in turn, raised objections from the Palestinians who said it served to “legitimise the annexation of Jerusalem”.

Stage one result

1. Tom Dumoulin (Ned/Sunweb) 12mins 02secs

2. Rohan Dennis (Bel/BMC Racing) +02secs

3. Victor Campenaerts (Bel/Lotto-Soudal) Same time

4. Jose Goncalves (Spa/Katusha) +12secs

5. Alex Dowsett (GB/Katusha) +16secs

6. Miguel Angel Lopez (Spa/Astana) +18secs

7. Simon Yates (GB/Mitchelton-Scott) +20secs

8. Max Schachmann (Ger/Quick-Step Floors) +21secs

9. Tony Martin (Ger/Katusha) +27secs

10. Domenico Pozzovivo (Ita/Bahrain-Merida) +29 secs

Selected:

21. Chris Froome (GB/Team Sky) +37secs

Courtesy: bbci.co.uk

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