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Stage 1 of the 2012 Giro d’Italia, an 8.7km individual time trial through the streets of Herning in Denmark, went largely as predicted last night Australian time.
Young gun and pre-stage contender Taylor Phinney (BMC Racing) won the prologue in a time of 10 minutes 26 seconds. The Colorado native looked a force to be reckoned with from the get-go, shooting out of the starting gates with gusto and holding great aerodynamic form throughout his ride.
Welshman Geraint Thomas (Sky Pro Cycling) defied his self-diagnosed case of “track legs” and finished in second place, nine seconds behind Phinney in 10 minutes 35 seconds.
Danish hopeful Alex Rasmussen (Garmin-Barracuda) turned in a podium finish in front of his adoring home crowd, recording the third-fastest time of 10 minutes 39 seconds (+13”).
Attention now shifts to stage two, the first road stage of the Giro. Stage two is a predominantly flat 206km loop starting and finishing in Herning, Denmark. It should be a day for the sprinters, but that should not stop a breakaway group trying their hand at an unlikely victory.
The biggest threat to the sprinters will be the wind, particularly as the peloton heads west for a 50km journey along the North Sea coastline. Winds bring with them the chance of splits forming in the main group if they are not negotiated well.
Mismanaging a stiff breeze tomorrow is unlikely to dash many riders’ general classification hopes, but it takes hard pedalling to make up even the smallest of gaps in windy conditions.
One of the favourites for stage honours is ‘The Manx Missile’ Mark Cavendish (Sky Pro Cycling), but he will have to make do without the help of long-time leadout man Mark Renshaw (Rabobank).
Rabobank will be hoping the Australian can win the stage for himself.
Garmin-Barracuda will try to put their big sprinter Tyler Farrar into a position to hit the line first. Do not discount the Italian sprinters in their home Grand Tour. Daniele Bennati (Radioshack-Nissan) won three stages of the Giro in 2008 and will be keen to add to his tally.
The other Australian to watch on this stage is Matt Goss (Orica-GreenEDGE). The diminutive 25-year-old won a stage at the 2010 Giro d’Italia and is coming off a good performance at the Tour of Turkey, where he topped the list in the points classification.
Stage two should be all about the sprinters, but it also gives riders including Frank Schleck (Radioshack-Nissan) the chance to find form ahead of the big mountain stages.