Giro shifts to Italy after Irish opening

Nairo Quintana and his Movistar teammates are looking to make up ground in Italy. Bryn Lennon/Velo/Getty Images

DUBLIN, Ireland (VN) — After three spectacular days of racing across Ireland, a rain-weary peloton is more than happy about the prospect of warmer climes at the southern tip of Italy.

Although the three-day “big start” was a boon for a reborn Belfast after decades of political strife, and equally buoyant for Orica-GreenEdge and Marcel Kittel (Giant-Shimano), most of the Giro peloton will be content to leave the Emerald Isle in the rearview mirror.

“I cannot wait to see the Italian sun,” said Spanish rider Joaquim Rodríguez, whose Katusha squad lost 1:38 in the team time trial Friday. “This Giro didn’t start the way we wanted, but now the real race will begin. We’ll go fighting to the end.”

The peloton packs up and flies back to Italy on Monday morning, minus Daniel Martin (Garmin-Sharp), who slipped on a manhole cover in Friday’s team time trial and underwent surgery Sunday for a broken clavicle. He’s hoping to rebound in time for the Tour de France.

Irish favorite Martin wasn’t the only casualty in the three stages that linked Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland in its first grand-tour racing since Dublin hosted the departure of the scandal-plagued 1998 Tour de France.

Some GC favorites bled time in Friday’s TTT. In addition to Rodríguez, 2012 Giro champ Ryder Hesjedal (Garmin-Sharp) lost more than three minutes to his direct rivals. Nairo Quintana (Movistar) lost nearly one minute.

The Giro is a different kind of race. It’s more explosive and wide open than the tightly controlled Tour de France. Hesjedal’s 3:26 loss, if it occurred at the Tour, would be fatal to GC ambitions, but Garmin DS Charly Wegelius shrugged off the suggestion that the Canadian’s Giro was over even before it started.

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