Giro d'Italia Stage 1: Bradley Wiggins storms to prologue win
The edge taken off most riders' performances but conditions favoured late starters
Team Sky's Bradley Wiggins steamed round in 10:18, a 2 second advantage over 2nd placed Brent Bookwalter (BMC) and a further few hundredths over world road champion Cadel Evans, also of BMC.
While Amsterdam's Museum Square flanked by the Van Gogh Museum and the Rijksmuseum looked imposing enough for the start of the Giro d'Italia, 13° temperatures and persistent drizzle took the edge off the majority of riders' sense of occasion today. Wiggins, though, injected some heat on his way to victory.
After overnight rain the 8.4Km inner city Amsterdam course with 13 proper corners and 8 curves never really dried out before 3.30pm when it started to come down with a vengeance. There were enough crashes in the first half of the field to signal to the second that riding piano through the corners was going to be the order of the day.
Fortunately for the final 20 top-seeded riders who start at 2-minute intervals, the rain held off and the road dried out well enough for Sky's Bradley Wiggins to hurtle into and through the corners noticeably faster. And it held off until the last-starting rider André Greipel was completing his run, to start again.
The big time-trialling favourites on form had been Wiggins and David Millar (Garmin-Transitions) with some also favouring Alexander Vinokourov (Astana). As it turned out both latter riders almost came up to expectation with a 5 second deficit for Vinoukerov in 4th and 6 seconds for Miller in 7th, not 5th or 6th because he was pipped by both Greg Henderson (Sky) and Richie Porte (Saxo Bank).
Although Cadel Evans' typically gritty effort as a non-time trialling specialist was commendable he, like Wiggins, was able to benefit from the lucky dry window. Our man-of-the-match award goes to the ever-smiling tall American Brent Bookwalter who was riding almost an hour earlier with the roads still treacherous.
Back on January 1st in an article by our Simon MacMichael which is worth rereading again just for Wiggins' comments on his diet, The Sky rider, at that point just signed with the GB super-team, was planning on a Giro d'Italia prologue win to put him in the fabled Maglia Rosa today. It will be a little bit more than merely interesting to see whether he manages to achieve his next ambition which is to win the final time trial in Verona in three weeks time.
Meanwhile, there are a couple more opportunities for Team Sky to have a crack at the pink jersey; tomorrow's 209Km stage from Amsterdam to Utrecht is one for the sprinters and Sky's Greg Henderson fits the bill. Although it's unlikely homeboys Rabobank are going to accept anything but a do-or-die win with their man Oscar Freire to the fore and we shouldn't underestimate HTC-Columbia man-with-a-point-to-make André Greipel even if he has a dicky tummy.
And then there's the 32.5Km team time trial next Wednesday. If ever there was a stage for David Brailsford, Sky's multi-Olympic medal winning coach to win with his golden boy Brad Wiggins at the front of the line, this is it.
1 Bradley Wiggins - GBR - Sky 0:10:18
2 Brent Bookwalter - USA - BMC 0:00:02
3 Cadel Evans - AUS - BMC at st
4 Alexandre Vinokourov - KAZ - Astana 0:00:05
5 Greg Henderson - NZL - Sky at st
6 Richie Porte - AUS - Saxo at st
7 David Millar - GBR - Garmin-Transitions 0:00:06
8 Gustav Larsson - SWE - Saxo 0:00:07
9 Jos Van Emden - NED - Rabobank 0:00:09
10 Marco Pinotti - ITA - HTC-Columbia at st