Bradley Wiggins Wins Stage 1 of 2010 Giro d'Italia
Team Sky's Bradley Wiggins completes 8.4km course in 00:10:18 to grab pink jersey.
Great Britain's Bradley Wiggins sped around the picturesque streets of Amsterdam to win the first stage of the Giro d'Italia on Saturday and lay down a marker for the rest of the three-week race.
The Team Sky rider, among the favourites for overall glory, grabbed the leader's pink jersey by completing the time trial in 10 minutes, 18 seconds to hold a two-second lead over Brent Bookwalter and Australian world champion Cadel Evans.
"I did my own race. It felt good," Wiggins told reporters at the finish in Amsterdam.
Sullen skies and drizzle in the Netherlands greeted the 198 riders from 34 nations who criss-crossed the famous canals individually before finishing the 8.4-km route by the city's ageing Olympic Stadium.
The spectacular start took place on a pontoon in the middle of a pond in the city's Museumplein, with the huge Rijksmuseum hidden from view by scaffolding during renovation work.
The Giro itself had been trying to rebuild its reputation since last year's runner-up Danilo Di Luca was banned for doping but a fresh blow arrived on Monday when potential favourite Franco Pellizotti was told he will face doping charges.
The International Cycling Union (UCI) said his biological passport had suspicious data and he was pulled out of the race.
The absence of top riders such as Alberto Contador and Lance Armstrong, who will concentrate on July's 2010 Tour de France, has also hurt the Giro's standing this year but the Dutch did their best to put on a good show.
Amsterdam shone in orange for last week's celebrated Queen's Day festival and race organisers tried with partial success to replicate the idea and turn the city pink in honour of the Giro's signature colour.
A decent-sized crowd lined the route with special cheers reserved for the home Rabobank team and the eight Dutch riders.
They failed to threaten at the top of the leaderboard where American Brent Bookwalter made a surprise appearance having managed the same time as BMC Racing teammate Cadel Evans.
"It was a fairly technical, short violent effort, which I think suits me well," Bookwalter told Roadcycling.com and added "At least in the United States, I've always been pretty good in the five to 15 km distance. I'm not super tested at that distance over here. But I was motivated to do a good time for the team GC and also to do a good time so Cadel (Evans) could get good time checks. It's really a pleasant surprise," Bookwalter added.
"Maybe if I had taken some risks, I might have cut a half a second off here or there. I'm really happy for Brent (Bookwalter). It's a really good start for him and a great introduction into his first Grand Tour," Cadel Evans commented after the time trial.
"This test has been really important for me and frankly, I'm feeling happy. Losing 25 seconds to a rider like Wiggins in a prologue like this one, which has been such a powerful stage, and being a few seconds behind important riders like Ivan Basso who will be my direct adversaries in the mountain stages, is a positive result," Cervelo TestTeam's Carlos Sastre commented after the finish. Sastre added "After so much time without many competitions to gauge my fitness level and with only the training series that I've done to guide me, I needed to know how I would do against my rivals."
The race, which has often started or passed through other countries than Italy and could begin in the United States in 2012 under ambitious plans, stays in the cycling-mad Netherlands for two more days before returning home.
Sunday's 210-km second stage is between Amsterdam and Utrecht while Monday's third stage finishes in Middelburg. The race ends in Verona on May 30.
Stay tuned to us here at Roadcycling.com for full 2010 Giro d'Italia coverage including video highlights from the race and visit www.universalsports.com/cycling for live video from the Giro.
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