Bradley Wiggins (Team Sky) won stage 1 of the 93rd edition of the Giro d’Italia, an 8.4km time trial through the streets of Amsterdam in the Netherlands.
Clad in a white skinsuit sporting the colors of the British time trial champion, Wiggins cranked out a time of 10 minutes, 18 seconds on the wet, technical circuit.
“I just did my race, that’s what I always do in time trials,” he said. “If I crashed, I crashed. I wasn’t going to touch my brakes.”
American Brent Bookwalter (BMC Racing Team) finished second on the day, two seconds slower than Wiggins, with teammate Cadel Evans third in the same time.
The Giro is the second successive grand tour to start in Holland. Last year’s Vuelta kicked off in the Netherlands, and the Tour de France will give Holland the hat trick with a start in the port city of Rotterdam in July.
The weather was decidedly not Italian — cold, cloudy and wet. The tricky course started in the Museumplein, home to two of the world’s best museums, the Riks and Van Gogh, and stormed past the Heineken brewery in the first kilometer.
Next the course drove right into the heart of Amsterdam, crossing the Amstel River, with the final 3km rolling through a residential part of town with better road conditions.
Xavier Tondo (Cervélo TestTeam) praised the course, if not the conditions.
“They did a great job for an urban course. Even where the route passes train tracks, they’ve put in buffers to make it safer. It’s an excellent course and not dangerous at all,” he said. “What makes it dangerous is the rain. You don’t know how fast to go into the corners.”
Larsson, Bookwalter set early marks
Gustav Erik Larsson (Saxo Bank) started 60th and set the early best time of 10 minutes, 25 seconds. It would stand for quite a while. Marco Pinotti (HTC-Columbia), starting 110th, nearly knocked Larsson off his perch, but missed by just two seconds, slotting into second.
Bookwalter finally got the job done — the 2006 U.S. under-23 time trial champ started 144th and muscled his bike across the line to clip five seconds off Larsson’s time and take over the lead.
Team Sky sprinter Greg Henderson also turned in a fine performance, briefly slotting into second behind Bookwalter at three seconds back.
Time trial specialist David Millar (Garmin-Transitions) was next to just miss dethroning Bookwalter, by just four seconds.
And then Wiggins roared through to take the lead by two seconds, averaging nearly 49 kph and pushing Bookwalter into the runner-up spot. (More on Bookwalter’s time trial)
The man widely considered a favorite to win the Giro, world road champ Evans, nearly avenged his BMC teammate, but fell just short, slotting into third with a 10:20.
And that’s the way the podium would stay — Wiggins took the win and the first maglia rosa of the 2010 Giro d’Italia, with Bookwalter second and Evans third.
“For me, to win here is one of the most beautiful days of my career. The maglia rosa is one of the most iconic jerseys in cycling,” Wiggins said. “It’s a big honor to win here. I knew I had good chances, but you never know what the others can do. I just focused on my ride and I was lucky enough to win.
“Wearing the maglia rosa is special. You’re following a long line of riders like Coppi to Bugno. To add your name to that list of riders who’ve worn the jersey is special.”
* The Italians: Gilberto Simoni (Lampre), had a disappointing start to what will be his final Giro, finishing 156th at 56 seconds back. Michele Scarponi (Androni) and Filippo Pozzato (Katusha) also turned in less-than-stellar performances, finishing 33rd at 0:21 and 66th at 0:32, respectively. Stefano Garzelli (Acqua e Sapone) crossed 30th at 0:20, while Ivan Basso (Liquigas) crossed 27th at 0:23.
* The Dutch: Jos Van Emden (Rabobank) cracked the top 10 for the home crowd, finishing ninth at nine seconds back.
* The others: Alexander Vinovourov (Astana) turned in a fine time, crossing in 10:23 for fourth, while Carlos Sastre (Cervélo) finished 42nd at 0:25.
Top five results
* 1. Bradley Wiggins (GBR), Team Sky, 8.4km in 10:18 (48.9kph)
* 2. Brent Bookwalter (USA), BMC Racing Team at 0:02
* 3. Cadel Evans (AUS), BMC Racing Team at 0:02
* 4. Alexandre Vinokourov (KAZ), Astana at 0:05
* 5. Greg Henderson (NZL), Team Sky at 0:05
Courtesy Andrew Hood and Agence France Presse