There’s the fat-free angular face, just the thinnest layer of skin stretched across, and that nose, filed to a sharp point along its length. Not just the bike and kit, but his whole body designed to cheat the wind. Honed in some secret lab. Primoz Roglic is undoubtedly the most anatomically aerodynamic of all the cyclists.
Here, on the stage one time-trial, he blazed through the streets of Bologna to post the quickest time by an eyebrow raising eighteen seconds over the short, telegenic, eight-kilometre course.
Just one tactic was open to the riders today; ride full gas and avoid the temptation to pull over in this city of food and sample the salumi and prosciutto, the cappelletti and the tortellini, before hitting the final set piece of a two-kilometre climb up to San Luca.
While watching this, I had an epiphany. I finally made my peace with the decision of Team Sky Ineos to overlook me for selection for yet another Grand Tour.
Yes, I’ve put the miles in and made the sacrifices, shaved my legs and developed a borderline eating disorder, but Dave Brailsford knows as much as I do that three or four kilometres into today’s ride I would have given in to the smells wafting across the course, faked a crash, mock-hobbled to the nearest café, and ordered whatever Bolognan speciality of the house the proprietor suggested.
In another dimension I live in Bologna, home of Italian food, and I’m far too busy eating to bother myself with riding a bike.
Once through the city, food related temptations negotiated, a sharp hairpin brought the riders to a near stop, dramatically killing momentum at the foot of the steep early ramps of the finale. At two kilometres in length, and steep enough to convince many a lunch-laden visitor to take the tourist train, the climb was one for the mountain goats.
Simon Yates shot up it like a man who’s lunch was waiting at the top. Full gas. Super-happy. Good sensations. And other such cycling clichés. He took second. Vincenzo Nibali delighted his adoring country-folk to grab third. Neither could touch Roglic, though, who sliced through the Emilia Romagnan air like a sharp knife through a freshly baked square of lasagne.
The famous portico, a beautiful, covered, arched walkway, claimed to be the longest such in the world, provided one of those impossibly beautiful backdrops that the Giro does so well.
And with that, a beautifully staged opening TT, the 2019 Giro d’Italia is underway.
(Top Image: Konstantin Kleine [CC BY-SA 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)%5D)