Giro d'Italia: Team Sky win stage two time trial to give Bradley Wiggins early advantage
By Matt Westby. Last Updated: 05/05/13 6:56pm
Team Sky won by a margin of nine seconds
Team Sky produced a stunning performance to win the Giro d'Italia stage-two team time trial and hand Sir Bradley Wiggins an early advantage over his general classification rivals.
The British squad stopped the clock on a 17.4km course on the island of Ischia in 22 minutes 05 seconds, nine seconds faster than second-placed Movistar and 14 seconds ahead of third-placed Astana.
The result saw Team Sky's Salvatore Puccio, of Italy, take over the race leader's pink jersey from Mark Cavendish, whose Omega Pharma - Quick-Step team could only finish 48 seconds down in 17th place.
Wiggins was Sky's biggest beneficiary, though, picking up 14 seconds on his main rival for overall victory, Vincenzo Nibali (Astana), and 25 seconds on defending champion Ryder Hesjedal (Garmin-Sharp).
Cadel Evans also lost a sizeable chunk of time to Wiggins after his BMC team crossed the line 37 seconds down in 12th place, having struggled on a technical and hilly course that proved a major challenge for all squads.
Team Sky adapted to it the best, stopping the clock at the intermediate checkpoint second fastest behind Movistar, before producing a devastating second half to overhaul the Spanish team and claim victory.
It wasn't all plain sailing, though. Danny Pate was dropped early on but managed to regain contact, and the team were then reduced to just five men for the final few kilometres as the steep climbs and fierce pace took their toll.
Puccio and Wiggins were joined by Dario Cataldo and the Colombian duo Sergio Henao and Rigoberto Uran in the final quintet, but it was Puccio who took over the maglia rosa courtesy of being the the team's highest-placed finisher on stage one, in which he came 33rd.
Puccio, 23, who is riding his first Grand Tour, told teamsky.com: "Today was an incredible result and it is a huge surprise. I could never have thought this morning that I would be pulling on the maglia rosa. It is incredible.
"Once again the team showed how strong we are. Everyone put in a huge effort and it is very satisfying to be part of a big team result like this. For an Italian rider the maglia rosa is one of the best things that can happen to you."
Rivals fall away
Earlier in the day, Blanco had set the early pace with a time of 22min 33secs, but they were soon blown away by Sky's impressive mark.
Katusha, Lampre-Merida and Movistar, who had Britain's Alex Dowsett in their ranks, all then mounted serious challenges by posting competitive intermediate split times, but each of them wilted in the latter half of the course and fell away.
Nibali's Astana and Hesjedal's Garmin-Sharp were both down on Sky at the split and were unable to close the gap, while both BMC and Omega Pharma - Quick-Step struggled over the first half of the course and wilted badly in the second.
Despite losing the pink jersey, Cavendish retains the points classification leader's red jersey. Dowsett, meanwhile, takes over in the best young rider's white jersey.
Attention now turns to Monday's third stage, a 222km medium-mountain route from Sorrento to Marina di Ascea.
Watch highlights on the stage on Sky Sports 2HD from 10.15pm-11.45pm
Stage two result
1 Team Sky, 22:05
2 Movistar, +9secs
3 Astana, +14
4 Katusha, +19
5 Vini Fantini, +22
6 Lampre-Merida, +same time
7 Garmin-Sharp, +25
8 Blanco, +28
9 Orica-GreenEDGE, st
10 Vacansoleil-DCM, +34
1 Salvatore Puccio (Ita) Team Sky, 3:20:43
2 Bradley Wiggins (GB) Team Sky, same time
3 Sergio Henao (Col) Team Sky, st
4 Dario Cataldo (Ita) Team Sky, st
5 Rigoberto Uran (Col) Team Sky, st
6 Benat Inxausti (Spa) Movistar, +9secs
7 Giovanni Visconti (Ita) Movistar, st
8 Jose Herrada (Spa) Movistar, st
9 Alex Dowsett (GB) Movistar, st
10 Eros Capecchi (Ita) Movistar, st
Red (points classification) - Mark Cavendish (GB) Omega Pharma - Quick-Step
Blue (mountains classification) - Giovanni Visconti (Ita) Movistar
White (best young rider) - Alex Dowsett (GB) Movistar