Marco Pinotti pulled on the first pink jersey of this year's Giro d'Italia after leading HTC-Highroad to the win in the race's opening team time trial.
The Italian national time trial champion lead just four of his HTC team mates over the line as they decided to sacrifice riders for a fast time. Just not that many riders. The plan was to finish with six, but Frantisek Rabon punctured, leaving them with just five.
With the teams' time taken on the fifth man over the line the final kilometre was a nervous one for HTC but the strategy eventually paid off as they beat Omega Pharma-Lotto's early benchmark by 22 seconds.
"It was a great team win, we showed that we were well prepared," Pinotti said in the post race press conference. "It was an demanding course and it was even hard to get into that first position for the last corner. It was special to arrive in Turin with the Italian national champion's jersey."
Radioshack surprised by coming in just ten seconds off HTC's time. Liquigas, perhaps the strongest team in the race, finished third, equalling Omega Pharma's time. Garmin-Cervelo, so often strong in team time trials, were only fifth fastest while Sky were down in ninth place. Brit Peter Kennaugh lead Sky's six remaining riders home.
Sky team directeur sportif Sean Yates said after the stage: "The build-up went well and the boys tried their utmost - they did everything right so you can't ask anything more of them really. Remember that a team time trial at a Grand Tour is a pretty new experience for some of our guys and I think they put up a good fight."
Brit Russell Downing is making his Grand Tour debut at the Giro and was one of the three Sky riders that dropped back.
HTC's win puts British sprinter Mark Cavendish in the perfect position to take over the lead tomorrow, as he sits in fourth place overall. With bonus seconds on offer for first, second and third on tomorrow's stage, he already has a 10-second cushion over sprint rivals Robbie McEwen (Radioshack) and 24 over Tyler Farrar (Garmin-Cervelo).
American Bjorn Selander (Radioshack) takes the best young rider's jersey.
Sunday's opening road stage is a 244km long and flat stretch from Alba to Parma, one which should suit the sprinters. For a profile and map for stage two, see our Giro Stage Two preview page>>
Giro d'Italia 2011 stage one: Venaria Real - Turin TTT 19.3km
1. HTC-Highroad in 20-59
2. Radioshack at 10 secs
3. Liquigas-Cannondale at 22 secs
4. Omega Pharma-Lotto at 22 secs
5. Garmin-Cervélo at 24 secs
6. Lampre-ISD at 24 secs
7. Rabobank at 26 secs
8. Saxo Bank-Sungard at 30 secs
9. Team Sky at 37 secs
10. Vacansoleil-DCM at 37 secs
11. Movistar Team at 38 secs
12. Androni Giocattoli at 39 secs
13. BMC Racing at 41 secs
14. Leopard-Trek at 42 secs
15. Quickstep at 42 secs
16. Ag2r La Mondiale at 49 secs
17. Astana at 50 secs
18. Geox-TMC at 53 secs
19. Colnago-CSF Inox at 1-02
20. Katusha at 1-04
21. Farnese Vini-Neri Sottoli at 1-07
22. Acqua & Sapone at 1-07
23. Euskaltel-Euskadi at 1-13
Overall classification after stage one
1. Marco Pinotti (Ita) HTC-Highroad in 20-59
2. Lars Bak (Den) HTC-Highroad
3. Kanstantsin Sivtsov (Blr) HTC-Highroad
4. Mark Cavendish (GB) HTC-Highroad
5. Craig Lewis (USA) HTC-Highroad all same time
6. Robbie McEwen (Aus) Radioshack at 10 secs
7. Tiago Machado (Por) Radioshack
8. Fumiyuki Beppu (Jap) Radioshack
9. Bjorn Selander (USA) Radioshack
10. Robbie Hunter (RSA) Radioshack all same time
11. Philip Deignan (Irl) Radioshack at 10 secs
32. David Millar (GB) Garmin-Cervelo at 24 secs
58. Peter Kennaugh (GB) Sky at 37 secs
182. Russell Downing (GB) Sky at 1-27
186. Adam Blythe (GB) Omega Pharma-Lotto at 1-47
Team Sky placed ninth
Radioshack place second
Stage winners HTC-Highroad in full flow
Cheers! Stage winners HTC-Highroad celebrate the win
Giro d'Italia 2011: Related links
Giro d'Italia 2011: Cycling Weekly's coverage index
Giro d'Italia 2011: Start list
Giro d'Italia 2011: Latest news
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