Alberto Bettiol wins the Tour Down Under prologue
'The plan was to go full, to go flat out'
Alberto Bettiol wins the Tour Down Under prologue by a margin of eight seconds, taking the race leader’s ochre jersey.
Just as the first rain drops began to fall, Alberto set out on the 5.5 kilometer course. He set the early fast time of 6:19, averaging 52.2 kilometers per hour, which no rider could touch.
Alberto, one of the first riders on the course, had ridden the course earlier in the day and had his strategy dialed in.
“The plan was to go full, to go flat out,” the Italian says. “I especially learned the best way to take the corners, how to approach the corners because sometimes in six and a half minutes, it’s more important to do a corner in the right way than anything else. I did the loop many times and I learned the corners really well.”
Sport director Tom Southam knew Alberto was capable of a strong ride tonight and is thrilled to get the race underway with a win.
“It’s obviously the best possible way to start the year. I expected the rain but maybe a little bit later. As it was, it worked out kind of perfectly for Alberto but he also rode very fast so I don’t want to take away from his ride. If you look at the other people who rode around him, they were quite far behind him so he did a superb time trial. I could see before the race he was motivated. The rain came at a time that helped him but I think he’s better than he thought he was and that’s going to prove it to him.”
Starting the season with a win is rare and that is not lost on Alberto.
“It gives you extra motivation for the next weeks and gives motivation to the team, from the staff to the riders, so it’s better to start with a win, even if it was an unexpected win. This is cycling. You have to be ready to go for a win,” he says.
With five more days of racing ahead of us, Tom says the team aims to defend the jersey tomorrow.
“It’s not like he’s got a small gap of one or two seconds. Most of the sprinters are over 10 seconds behind him and there are sprint bonuses tomorrow. There are a lot of people who lost a lot of time so we don’t have to close every gap to catch it. We can keep a lot of breaks quite close which is quite nice. I think the gaps are much more significant than we thought. I still don’t see us as the favorite team having the most pressure to win the GC here. It’s an early result. It’s nice. From there we roll forward step by step. We’ve got a super team to defend the jersey. Tomorrow is the most straightforward day and then it’s going to get more complicated. We will take it as deep as we can and get the most we can out of this race.”
A huge congratulations to Alberto for taking his first win of the season!