Mark Cavendish cut through the rainstorms today to take the overall lead in Tirreno-Adriatico’s opening stage in Donoratico, Italy. His Omega Pharma-QuickStep squad won the 16.9km opening team time trial along the coast ahead of Movistar and BMC Racing.

It was Omega Pharma’s plan to win and to put Cavendish in the blue jersey.

“I’ve probably not [ridden a time trial] so wet and technical like that. We trained in the pissing rain yesterday and then this morning, as well. We knew what it was going to be like, it didn’t matter about the weather, the guys just wanted to keep practicing and to get it right. It was great to be a part of,” Cavendish explained in a press conference.

At his back when he crossed the finish line was world time trial champion, Tony Martin. Part of the plan, Cavendish added.

“I was planning to cross the line first, in hindsight it would’ve been better to let Tony cross first, he did about half the work on his own. He’ll probably get the jersey later in the week.”

Rain battered Italy since yesterday. Teams established bases early in sleepy San Vincenzo and their mechanics got to work. They cleaned and re-cleaned bikes as riders rode the parcours north of town and through the wine producing hills.

Cavendish said he and his Omega Pharma mates focused on the corners and first half of the course.

“It’s really about the technical aspects, the corners, the lines in the corners, especially in weather like this,” he added. “Especially at the beginning at the TT, you can lose so much energy there. It’s important to get it right at the start.”

Froome in the game

Sky lost Joe Dombrowski immediately after the start. The neo-pro American was unable to find his rhythm and recover in the short test.

Froome’s Sky team finished with “un distacco” of 25 seconds to Cavendish’s Omega Pharma team.

“We all went as hard as we could while staying together. It’s never easy getting eight guys through wet corners all at the same time. We lost a little bit of time, but we made sure we were safe,” Froome told Cycling Weekly.

He stepped out from Sky’s camper van waiting at the finish. Dry, but grime still filling the corners of his face. He said yesterday that this and other early season races were a chance to practice ahead of the Tour de France. This wet time trial, however, offered few lessons.

“There was not much to be taken front that windy and wet time trial, the main thing was just not to lose too much time from something going wrong like crashing,” Froome added. “The main thing was to stay safe and stay in the game.”

Into Indicatore with a smile

The game continues tomorrow with what should be a sprint stage to Indicatore in Arezzo.

Cavendish won the same finish last year with Sky. He is a favourite to win and keep the blue jersey for team Omega Pharma. Something is different, though.

“In the past… I don’t know. I found a new motivation again,” Cavendish continued.

“I don’t know if it was the pressure of the World Champion’s jersey or team Sky, or the pressure of all the years, but whatever happened this year, I found a new motivation.

“This is the most I’ve raced for this time of year. I got a girl and fiancée at home, but I’m really enjoying to be away racing. When you are with a group of people like I’m with, I couldn’t ask for much more.”

 

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Stage one: Mark Cavendish leads Tirreno with team time trial win

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