HTC-Highroad riders proved yet again that they're the fastest and most disciplined team time trial squad in the peloton by dominating the Giro d'Italia's opening 19.3km time trial around Turin.
Italian national time trial champion Marco Pinotti crossed the line first and so pulled on the first maglia rosa (pink jersey) of the Giro and enjoyed the best moment of his career so far. His victory gave Italian cycling something to celebrate after weeks of doping scandals and investigations.
His team set the fastest intermediate time of 9:48 at the mid-point of the 19.3km urban course and then kept their speed high, recording a final time of 20:59. HTC-Highroad finished with just five riders, but with the time taken on the fifth rider to cross the line, it meant they'd got their race strategy exactly right.
RadioShack were also well-drilled and snatched second place with a time of 21: 09. Liquigas-Cannondale were third with a time of 21:21 and Omega Pharma-Lotto fourth, also in 21:21. Garmin-Cervelo finished fifth in 21:23, with Lampre-ISD taking sixth in the same time. Alberto Contador’s Saxo Bank-SunGard team set a time of 21:29 for eighth place.
Pinotti wore the pink jersey for four days during the 2007 Giro d’Italia but was far more emotional this time. Modest as ever, he wanted to share the success with his HTC-Highroad teammates and said he'd be happy for Mark Cavendish or another rider to pull on the pink jersey after Sunday’s first road race stage to Parma.
“It’s an amazing feeling to be in pink. I’m very proud,” he said with a broad smile filling his lean face. “I have to say thanks to the team [for the pink jersey] because this belongs to the whole team. I didn’t feel under pressure because we’re used to riding team time trials but then when I was told I’d be leading the team home, I started to get nervous.
"However, we knew what we had to do and did it right, with the changes in the right place and with the best riders taking the longest turns on the front. We made sure we kept a steady pace throughout and that's always important."
For a full race report and more pictures, visit our sister site Cyclingnews.