German rider is fastest climber in opening ITT stage of the Giro d’Italia

“The jersey for the fastest rider to the top of the climb,” Rick Zabel said the night before the opening individual time trial of the Giro d’Italia. “Maybe I should go for it?” he asked his teammates at the dinner table.

A few minutes later it was decided: Zabel would attack for the KOM-jersey by going all-out straight from the start, on a Factor ONE instead of a SLiCK, with a disc wheel in the back. On top of the climb he would do a bike change.

“Usually I don’t have a chance for a good result in an ITT,” Zabel said. “But this short climb suited me perfectly as was around a 90-second effort, and if there was a potential jersey at the top, why wouldn’t I try?”

As far as ISN knows, Zabel was the only one attacking for the jersey and then doing a bike change. Peter Sagan – having the same ambition as the German sprinter – gave his all on the climb on his TT bike. His time? 1m36sec. “Fast, but I was confident,” said Zabel.

Just before the start, ex-pro Greg Henderson shouted a few encouraging words to Zabel. “You can do this! GO GO GO!”

The clock counted down: 5… 4… 3…, Zabel inhaled once more, 2… 1… and he was off – immediately going full gas.

Showing his incredible skill, Zabel took the first few turns fabulously and arrived at the cobbled section with a percentage above 10% to the famous Duomo Monréale, and went through the short tunnel to arrive as the GPM.

1.34. “You got it!” Henderson shouted out the open window as Zabel changed bikes.

No one could beat Zabel’s time and our sprinter made his way to the podium – in blue, as the fastest climber of the day.

“I knew I could do this. I am supper happy with the result,” Zabel said after the podium ceremony. “Tomorrow I will start in the blue climber’s jersey – as a sprinter. How cool is that?”

Pics: BettiniPhoto