Buongiorno, Adelaide

Alberto Bettiol claims an eight-second victory aboard SystemSix in the Tour Down Under’s opening TT stage in Adelaide.

The banks of the Karrawirra Parri are normally fairly warm this time of year, but they gained a few more degrees on Monday, thanks to Alberto Bettiol’s scorching performance in the prologue of the 2023 Tour Down Under, which kicked off in Adelaide, Australia.

The forecast threatened rain on much of the day, but in its earliest hour, it hadn’t started falling just yet. Bettiol was only the fourth rider on the course, taking advantage of the dryer conditions, edging up to the starting gate just as the first drops began to fall.

He’d taken his time earlier in the day to familiarize himself with the course, lapping it several times aboard his Cannondale SystemSix – an aero road bike, not a time trial bike, that he would eventually ride to victory hours later. He learned the corners, felt out the approaches, and pinpointed where and when to put down the power.

“The plan was… to go flat out,” said the native Italian. And it paid off.

Six minutes and nineteen seconds after setting off, the 29-year-old Bettiol crossed the finish. That time would end up being a massive eight seconds faster than anyone else could muster over the day, including second-place Magnus Sheffield (INEOS Grenadiers) and local favorite Michael Matthews (Jayco-Alula), who secured tenth. It was a nerve-wracking 2.5 hours that Bettiol sat in the hot seat, but the stage’s 138 other competitors would all fall short.

The victory puts the orange TDU leader’s jersey on Bettiol’s shoulders and sets EF’s tone for the Tour. The squad is excited, to say the least, and looks to keep the momentum heading into stage two in Tanuda.