Giro d'Italia: Stage one down, sprinters look to take over
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Saturday, May 08, 2010

Giro d'Italia: Stage one down, sprinters look to take over

by Steve Jones at 3:26 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Giro d'Italia, Opinion
 

Greg HendersonThe 93rd Giro d'Italia kicked off today in Amsterdam, The Netherlands, with Team Sky's Bradley Wiggins managing to accomplish his two goals for this year's race on day one by winning the stage and securing the first maglia rosa.  The Briton said yesterday that he believes going for the overall win in the Italian Grand Tour would hurt his bid for the Tour de France in July, so it wouldn't be surprising to see him to now focus his efforts on passing the leader’s jersey over to teammate Greg Henderson tomorrow.

With respect to the race for the pink jersey, World Champion Cadel Evans (BMC Racing) finished 2 seconds behind Wiggins in third, with his teammate Brent Bookwalter putting in the surprise of the day by finishing a fraction of a second ahead of the Australian.  Kazakh Alexandre Vinokourov (Astana) was just a handful of seconds off of Wiggins’ time, thus confirming his place as one to watch for the overall win.

The Italian trio of Marco Pinotti (HTC-Columbia), Vicenzo Nibali (Liquigas-Doimo) and Dario Cioni (Team Sky) all finished inside the top 15, leaving the Tour’s home country with some solid performances.  Their compatriot Ivan Basso (Liquigas-Doimo) put in a disappointing time, losing 21 seconds to Evans.  Michele Scarponi (Androni-Diquigiovanni) surprisingly beat Basso and Spaniard Carlos Sastre (Cervelo TestTeam) finished 23 seconds behind the World Champion.  It’s still too early for the overall competition, but the biggest question will be whether Basso will end up working for last minute call-up Nibali.

For the next two days all eyes will be on the sprinters, with stages two and three serving up nearly identical 209 kilometer pancake flat routes.  With his performance today, Henderson has shown that he is on top form, and could be in a position to get the better of HTC-Columbia’s Andre Greipel.  The German beat Henderson earlier this year in the Tour Down Under, and the Kiwi will be hoping that it’s payback time.  With Wiggins’ ambitions fulfilled, he will likely offer up the leadout horsepower that would be necessary to overtake the powerful German.

There are a little more than a handful of sprinters that could get the maglia rosa over the next two stages by way of time bonuses.  Italian evergreen Alessandro Petacchi (Lampre-Farnese Vini) is the furthest adrift at 28 seconds, while Greipel would need 13 seconds more than Henderson to achieve pink.  Baden Cooke (Saxo Bank)  and Tyler Farrar (Garmin-Transitions) are at 23 and 26 seconds, respectively, and are good choices for victory tomorrow.  William Bonnet (Bbox Bouygues Telecom) and John Murphy (BMC Racing) also put in good rides and are within reach.

Australian Robbie McEwen (Katusha) had bike problems during today’s stage, but he shouldn’t be counted out if tomorrow ends in a bunch gallop.  Of course, this is Holland, so if crosswinds come into play the race could split into pieces offering up a surprise race leader at the end of the day.

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