Giro d'Italia 1: Bradley Wiggins first in pink

Brit wins opening time trial; Bookwalter and Evans 2nd and 3rd


Britain's three-time Olympic champion Bradley Wiggins got Team Sky's Grand Tour debut off to the perfect start by winning the first stage of the Tour of Italy on Saturday.

Wiggins, racing at an average speed of almost 49kph, completed the 8.4km against-the-clock circuit in Amsterdam two seconds ahead of American Brent Bookwalter to take the race leader's pink jersey.

"I was in my own world -  that's how I always do these things," said Wiggins of his focused approach to the stage.

"I was oblivious to anyone else and just did my own race. It was hard but I just went for it, especially in the corners. If you want to win it, you've got to commit 100 percent, like a sprinter when they go for a sprint."

Brad wiggins in full flight: brad wiggins in full flight

Wiggins in full flight

Brent bookwalter (bmc) was second, just two seconds behind wiggins: brent bookwalter (bmc) was second, just two seconds behind wiggins

Brent Bookwalter was second

World champion Cadel Evans of Australia finished third ahead of veteran Kazakh rider Alexander Vinokourov.

Other candidates for overall victory on the Giro d'Italia, which finishes with an individual time trial in Verona on May 30, lost valuable time on Evans in a stage raced in front of huge crowds.

Italian Ivan Basso was 21sec off the Australian, with Spain's Carlos Sastre a further 2sec adrift.

On a landmark day for Team Sky, sprinter Greg Henderson also finished in the top 10 while Dario Cioni underlined his good form with a top-20 placing.

"This is an iconic jersey and it means a lot to me. To take it in such style in Amsterdam is even more special," Wiggins said.

The Briton, who has targeted a top Tour de France performance this summer as the main goal of his season, played down his chances of overall Giro victory, saying: "You never know. I don't really know what I can do, it's difficult to say.

"I prefer to take the race a day at a time. I have no idea if I can be in a position (to win) in three weeks. In January, we said that the Giro would be the main goal for Dario Cioni," the Briton said of his Italian team-mate.

"I told him that I'd go for the time trial and will seek to keep the jersey as long as possible. And after, I'll be there for him."

Celebration time for wiggins: celebration time for wiggins

Wiggins celebrates

Team Sky's team principal Dave Brailsford hailed Wiggins, calling it an "absolutely brilliant day for us in terms of the whole team".

"We won the first ever race that we rode (the curtain-raiser to the Tour Down Under in Adelaide) and now the first time we've competed in a Grand Tour, we've got the jersey. It's quite a moment in the history and development of the team."

He added: "Bradley absolutely committed 100 percent and technically he rode it very, very well. It was terrific. I think it was in the corners where he really made the difference and came out a deserved winner."

There are two more Giro stages in the Netherlands before the race moves to Italy.

© AFP 2010

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