Alex Dowsett (Movistar) won the 2013 Giro d'Italia stage eight individual time trial on Saturday - an impressive stage win in the Essex man's first Grand Tour outing. Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) moved into the overall race lead after a strong ride to place fourth on the stage.
Bradley Wiggins (Sky) finished in second place on the stage, with Tanel Kangert (Astana) in third.
British time trial national champion Dowsett put down an early fast time and had a nerve-wracking day in the hotseat as rider after rider failed to beat his time of one hour, 16 minutes and 27 seconds over the testing 54.8-kilometre course.
"It was bloody hard, it was real difficult to get into the rhythm," Dowsett told Cycling Weekly after his ride. "I had to throw my usual riding watts out the window, it was the case of putting power down when I could and taking rests when I could. It was so technical, so bloody hilly, I've never ridden a time trial like that."
Dowsett caught and passed former Trek-Livestrong team-mate Taylor Phinney (BMC) en route to his win. "The only thing I was surprised about was catching Phinney... I heard Spanish on the radio, I couldn't work out if they were saying I was one and a half minutes up on Phinney or one and a half minutes from catching him," said Dowsett.
Wiggins had his work cut out for him having lost a significant chunk of time to his overall rivals on the preceding stage after crashing on a rain-soaked corner to slip to 23rd overall.
The first half of the time trial didn't go well for Wiggins. He came through the first intermediate time check at 26km, 52 seconds slower than Dowsett and a minute slower than Nibali having changed his bike from the one-off Pinarello Bolide to his older Graal model after suffering from a rear puncture. A master of pacing, Wiggins then went faster in the second half to come home in second place behind Dowsett, at 10 seconds.
"I think there was some initial disappointment because I wanted to win the stage," Wiggins told www.teamsky.com later. "It's been a challenging few days with the crash yesterday and then to come back up. It wasn't an easy course.
"Then obviously to have a puncture and have to change bikes and disrupt the rhythm is never going to help. But then the second part of the course was really suited to me and I took back a lot of time on people there.
"It's going to be a hell of a race for the next two weeks."
Nibali rode very strongly to place fourth on the stage, just 11 seconds adrift of Wiggins - far less of a deficit than the minutes many had predicted before the stage. Nibali now sits 29 seconds ahead of Cadel Evans (BMC) overall, with Robert Gesink (Blanco) in third at 1-15 and Wiggins in fourth at 1-16.
Michele Scarponi (Lampre-Merida) also put in a strong-than-expected ride to place 10th on the stage and move up to fifth overall, just eight seconds behind Wiggins.
Overnight leader Benat Intxausti (Movistar) slipped out of the top ten after placing 44th on the stage, some 4-02 behind team-mate Dowsett.
There's no let up for the riders tomorrow, when they face a mountainous 170-kilometre trip from San Sepolcro to Firenze taking in some of the forthcoming World Championships road race route. Giro d'Italia stage nine preview, profile and map>>
Giro d'Italia 2013, stage eight: Gabicce Mare to Saltara, 54.8km ITT
1. Alex Dowsett (GBr) Movistar in 1-16-27
2. Bradley Wiggins (GBr) Sky at 10 secs
3. Tanel Kangert (Est) Astana at 14 secs
4. Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Astana at 21 secs
5. Stef Clement (Ned) Blanco at 32 secs
6. Luke Durbridge (Aus) Orica-GreenEdge at 35 secs
7. Cadel Evans (Aus) BMC Racing at 39 secs
8. Manuele Boaro (Ita) Saxo-Tinkoff at 45 secs
9. Sergio Henao (Col) Sky at 53 secs
10. Michele Scarponi (Ita) Lampre-Merida at 53 secs
11. Robert Gesink (Ned) Blanco at 1-22
12. Rigoberto Uran (Col) Sky at 1-48
18. Ryder Hesjedal (Can) Garmin-Sharp at 2-23
77. Steve Cummings (GBr) BMC Racing at 5-41
170. Mark Cavendish (GBr) Omega Pharma-QuickStep at 9-38
195. David Millar (GBr) Garmin-Sharp at 14-10
199. Adam Blythe (GBr) BMC Racing at 15-17
Overall classification after stage eight
1. Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Astana in 29-46-57
2. Cadel Evans (Aus) BMC Racing at 29 secs
3. Robert Gesink (Ned) Blanco at 1-15
4. Bradley Wiggins (GBr) Sky at 1-16
5. Michele Scarponi (Ita) Lampre-Merida at 1-24
6. Ryder Hesjedal (Can) Garmin-Sharp at 2-05
7. Sergio Henao (Col) Sky at 2-11
8. Mauro Santambrogio (Ita) Vini Fantini at 2-43
9. Przemyslaw Niemiec (Pol) Lampre-Merida at 2-44
10. Rigoberto Uran (Col) Sky at 2-49
Alex Dowsett on his way to the stage win
Vincenzo Nibali celebrates taking the race lead
Alex Dowsett: rider profile
Giro d'Italia 2013: Coverage index
Giro d'Italia 2013: British TV schedule
Giro 2013: 10 things you need to know
Giro d'Italia 2013: The Big Preview
Giro d'Italia 2013: Stage reports
Stage seven: Wiggins crashes as Hansen wins
Stage six: Cavendish wins stage six of Giro
Stage five: Degenkolb avoids crash to take win
Stage four: Battaglin sprints to first Giro stage win
Stage three: Paolini takes charge
Stage two: Sky wins team time trial
Stage one: Cavendish wins opener
Giro d'Italia 2013: Photo galleries
Photos by Graham Watson
Stage eight gallery
Stage seven gallery
Stage six gallery
Stage five gallery
Stage four gallery
Stage three gallery
Stage two gallery
Stage one gallery
Team presentation gallery
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