by Jean Montois
herning, Denmark, May 5, 2012 (AFP) – American Taylor Phinney pulled on the
race leader’s pink jersey at the Giro d’Italia after winning the opening stage
time-trial held over 8.7km here on Saturday.
BMC’s Phinney, 21, finished nine seconds ahead of another former individual
pursuit specialist, Britain’s Geraint Thomas (Team Sky) with Dane Alex
Rasmussen (Garmin) in third a further four seconds adrift.
On what is his maiden participation in the three-week race, Phinney becomes
the first American to wear the pink jersey since Christian Vande Velde, who
took the race lead after winning the opening stage in Palermo in 2008.
“It’s a dream to pull on the pink jersey,” said Phinney.
“I’ve achieved one of my objectives of the season, I’ve been thinking of
this time trial for months. Everyone was saying I was the favorite but it’s
not easy to go out there and do it.
“I love Italy, especially the cooking. I hope to be still wearing the
jersey in Italy when we race the team time trial on Wednesday.”
Phinney, who signed as a professional last year for the team of reigning
Tour de France champion Cadel Evans, was considered among the big favorites
for the wind-hit race against the clock, which handed him his first Grand Tour
As well as winning the under-23 world title for the time-trial in 2010,
Phinney has twice won gold in the world championships individual pursuit — an
event which is no longer on the Olympic programme — in 2010 and 2011.
He is also the son of former cycling champions. Mother Connie Carpenter was
the Olympic road race champion in 1984, while father Davis Phinney was the
first American to win a stage at the Tour de France, in 1986.
Phinney is not considered a contender for the overall title, but on the
first day the real contenders began counting the cost of their losses and
Defending Giro champion Michele Scarponi of Italy finished 1min 06sec off
the winning pace, thus giving up 27sec to former champion and compatriot Ivan
Basso and 30sec to Czech contender Roman Kreuziger.
“I’m not happy with that at all. I should have lost a lot less time,” said
Scarponi, the runner-up last year who was awarded the 2011 title when Spaniard
Alberto Contador was banned for doping offenses.
“But we’re only at the start of the race, there’s still plenty to do.”
Basso, who was 36th, said: “I’m glad to have started well. Now, I’m
thinking of tomorrow.”
Spanish climbing specialist Joaquim Rodriguez, meanwhile, was only four
seconds off the pace of Basso, while Luxembourg’s Frank Schleck, a late
addition by his RadioShack team, was 20sec adrift of Basso.
The race resumes on Sunday with the wind expected to play a role when the
peloton tackle 206km around Herning, much of which will be along the coast.
The peloton move on to Italian soil on Wednesday with the team time trial
Results and standings from the opening stage of the Giro d’Italia, a time trial held over 8.7km ride around
Herning on Saturday:
Stage and overall
1. Taylor Phinney (USA/BMC) 10min 26sec, 2. Geraint Thomas (GBR/SKY) at
9sec, 3. Alex Rasmussen (DEN/GRM) 13, 4. Manuele Boro (ITA/SAX) 15, 5. Gustav
Larsson (SWE/VAC) 22, 6. Ramunas Navardauskas (LTU/GRM) s.t., 7. Brett
Lancaster (AUS/GEC) 23, 8. Marco Pinotti (ITA/BMC) 24, 9. Jesse Sergent
(NZL/RSH) 26, 10. Nelson Oliveira (POR/RSH) 27, 11. Tomas Vaitkus (LTU/GEC)
s.t., 12. Stef Clement (NED/RAB) 28, 13. Robert Hunter (RSA/GRM) s.t., 14.
Jack Bauer (NZL/GRM) s.t., 15. Maciej Bodnar (POL/LIQ) 29, 16. Ryder Hesjedal
(CAN/GRM) s.t., 17. Michal Kwiatkowski (POL/OPQ) s.t., 18. Enrico Gasparotto
(ITA/AST) s.t., 19. Dario Cataldo (ITA/OPQ) 31, 20. Giacomo Nizzolo (ITA/RSH)
Selected: 28. Roman Kreuziger (CZE/AST) 36, 36. Ivan Basso (ITA/LIQ) 39,
48. Joaquin Rodriguez (ESP/KAT) 43, 113. Frank Schleck (LUX/RSH) 59, 114. Jack
Bobridge (AUS/GEC) 1:00, 125. Damiano Cunego (ITA/LAM) 1:03, 138. Michele
Scarponi (ITA/LAM) 1:06, 162. John Gadret (FRA/ALM) 1:16