Geraint Thomas's Team Sky were fifth fastest in the team time-trial
Milan (AFP) - Australian rider Michael Hepburn pulled on the leader’s blue jersey after his Mitchelton-Scott team won the Tirreno-Adriatico opening team time-trial at Lido di Camaiore in Tuscany on Wednesday.
Slovenian Primoz Roglic’s Jumbo-Visma team finished second at 7secs with Tom Dumoulin’s Sunweb third at 22sec.
“I didn’t expect to be in this position when I woke up this morning,” said 27-year-old Hepburn. “We obviously had a great squad here for the opening stage.
“We’re not targeting just the stage but also supporting Adam Yates on (the) general classification.”
Former Tour of Spain winner Yates is among the favourites for the race which ends next Tuesday on the Adriatic coast at San Benedetto del Tronto.
“We’ve been hoping to win the team time-trial for a long time and often came close but this time we’ve done it,” said Briton Yates. “It’s an excellent start.”
Tour de France champion Geraint Thomas’s Team Sky were fifth at 47 seconds behind.
On roads made slippy by the rain, Italy’s Oscar Gatto and Poland’s Rafal Majka of the German Bora-Hansgrohe team were caught up in a high-speed collision when a pedestrian crossed the road in front of the riders.
“Initial reports indicate that Oscar Gatto has sustained some bruising, while Rafał Majka went down somewhat harder,” the team said on Twitter.
“Further testing will need to be done to evaluate their injuries. However, both riders finished the stage today.”
The pedestrian was brought to hospital but his condition was reported not to be serious.
Thursday’s second stage is a 195km run between Camaiore and Pomarance, passing through Pisa and along flat roads before a 12km uphill finish, with peaks reaching 16 percent.