Giro d'Italia: Slipstream storms to first stage win

Christian Vandevelde in pink after team time trial

American Christian Vandevelde became the first American in 20 years to pull on the Giro d'Italia's pink jersey after leading his Slipstream team to victory in the opening stage team time trial.

Slipstream hit an average speed of just over 53 km/h for the 23.6km course on Saturday to clock a winning time of 26min 32sec, leaving Danish specialists CSC in second place and High Road in third.

CSC finished at 06sec while High Road, being led by world and Olympic pursuit champion Bradley Wiggins, were third at 7secs.

Vandevelde becomes the first American to pull on the race leader's pink jersey since Andy Hampsten claimed overall victory 20 years ago.

Of the riders hoping for the overall win after the final stage into Milan in three weeks time, Italian Vincenzo Nibali came out on top after his Liquigas team finished fourth at 9secs. Reigning Giro champion Danilo Di Luca, of LPR, finished 28secs behind Slipstream, who are taking part in their first three-week Tour, in a time of 27 mins.

The Astana team of Tour de France winner Alberto Contador was just one second behind at 27:01.

Colombian climber Mauricio Soler had his Barloworld team to thank for limiting his time losses on the opening day. The British-registered team finished an impressive fifth just 14 secs behind the winners. The rest of the climbing fraternity, who will be waiting till the race hits the Dolomites mountains before launching their respective bids for the 'maglia rosa', fared significantly worse.

Former two-time Giro winner Gilberto Simoni lost 51secs to Vandevelde, while his fellow Italian and pink jersey hope Riccardo Ricco lost just over a minute. Last year's Tour of Spain winner Denis Menchov of Russia trailed in with a Rabobank team which finished 16th at 1:04 adrift of Vandevelde.

Slipstream's winning time came despite them losing Scottish time trial specialist David Millar in the finale. Vandevelde was the first of his team's remaining five riders, ahead of compatriot David Zabriskie, Canadian Ryder Hesjedal, New Zealand's Julian Dean and Swedish champion Magnus Bäckstedt.

Slipstream were launched only last year but thanks to their claim to have a staunch anti-doping stance they have been invited to this year's Tour de France.

Sunday's second stage takes the peloton from Cefalu to Agrigento, in Sicily, for an undulating 207km race which finishes with a four-kilometre climb to the finish.

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