Italian Marco Pinotti will wear the first pink jersey of the 2011 Giro d’Italia after his HTC-Highroad team won the opening stage team time-trial on Saturday. HTC edged out Americans Team RadioShack by 10 seconds on the 19.3km course from Venaria Reale to Turin.
Omega Pharma-Lotto took a surprise third place, 22 seconds back, just ahead of the Liquigas team of one of the pre-race favourites, Vincenzo Nibali. Tour de France champion Alberto Contador’s Saxo Bank team finished down in eighth, 30 seconds off the pace. “It’s a huge honour to be wearing the pink jersey,” said Pinotti who was ninth last year. “But this is a victory that belongs to the whole team. I can’t thank them enough. We made a very strong start, and the best riders took the longest turns on the front. We made sure we kept a steady pace throughout and that’s always important. “It was flat all the way but it wasn’t an easy course, you had to be careful with the tram lines and on the corners, some of them were very
The biggest loser on the day was Geox’s Denis Menchov, champion here two years ago, who lost 53 seconds with his team finishing down in 17th, one place and three seconds behind the Astana team of Czech Roman Kreuziger. As much as Omega’s high finish was a surprise, so too was Astana’s poor showing. With such a short course, though, none of the general classification contenders could have been expected to lose too much time, particularly with many brutal mountain stages to come in which far greater gains and losses can be expected.
Michele Scarponi, for example, lost just two seconds to Nibali as his Lampre finished sixth. Sunday’s second stage is a 244km ride from Alba to Parma, the joint second-longest stage of the race. It is mostly flat and is expected to be one of the few stages to finish in a bunch sprint, giving the likes of HTC’s Mark Cavendish a chance to shine.