Eurosport - Sat, 08 May 18:06:00 2010
Britain's Bradley Wiggins captured the leader's pink jersey at the Giro d'Italia by winning stage one in Amsterdam.
The Team Sky rider, among the favourites for overall glory, grabbed the leader's pink jersey by completing the time trial in 10 minutes 18 seconds to hold a two-second lead over Brent Bookwalter and Australian world champion Cadel Evans.
"I did my own race. It felt good," Wiggins said.
Bookwalter, a 26-year-old American, had sprung a surprise by tearing round the course in a rather ragged yet highly effective style to depose Sweden's world championship silver medallist Gustav Erik Larsson (Saxo Bank), who had held the early lead but eventually finished eighth.
With Wiggins having made public his plan to wind down over the final week in order to arrive in top condition for the Tour de France in July, he is unlikely to threaten the overall contenders, of whom BMC rider Evans fared best, finishing third, just a fraction of a second behind his team-mate Bookwalter.
Astana's Alexandre Vinokourov, fresh from his win at Liege-Bastogne-Liege, finished fourth, five seconds back, to underline the threat he is likely to pose at this race.
Italy's best hope for overall victory, Ivan Basso of Liquigas, finished an underwhelming 23 seconds off the pace, while the 2008 Tour de France winner Carlos Sastre (Cervelo) was a further two seconds back.
The afternoon will go down as a roaring success for the British-based Sky team in their grand tour debut. Aside from taking a stage win at the first attempt, Greg Henderson produced a sterling effort to take fifth place slightly earlier under difficult conditions, with drizzle falling intermittently.
The other Briton tipped for victory in the stage, David Millar (Garmin-Transitions), finished in seventh position, six seconds behind his compatriot Wiggins.
The spectacular start took place on a pontoon in the middle of a pond in the city's Museumplein, with the huge Rijksmuseum hidden from view by scaffolding during renovation work.
The Giro itself had been trying to rebuild its reputation since last year's runner-up Danilo Di Luca was banned for doping but a fresh blow arrived on Monday when potential favourite Franco Pellizotti was told he will face doping charges.
The absence of top riders such as Alberto Contador and Lance Armstrong, who will concentrate on July's Tour de France, has also hurt the Giro's standing this year but the Dutch did their best to put on a good show.
Amsterdam shone in orange for last week's celebrated Queen's Day festival and race organisers tried with partial success to replicate the idea and turn the city pink in honour of the Giro's signature colour.
A decent-sized crowd lined the route with special cheers reserved for the home Rabobank team and the eight Dutch riders.
They failed to threaten at the top of the leaderboard where American Bookwalter made a surprise appearance having managed the same time as BMC team mate Evans.
"It was a fairly technical, short violent effort, which I think suits me well," Bookwalter said.
"At least in the United States, I've always been pretty good in the five to 15 km distance. I'm not super tested at that distance over here. But I was motivated to do a good time for the team GC and also to do a good time so Cadel could get good time checks. It's really a pleasant surprise."
Evans, who is wearing bib number one, said he wasn't going all-out on the wet, technical course.
"I rode quite conservatively in the corners because I didn't expect to be fighting for the win," the Australian said. "Maybe if I had taken some risks, I might have cut a half a second off here or there. I'm really happy for Brent. It's a really good start for him and a great introduction into his first Grand Tour."
The race, which has often started or passed through other countries than Italy and could begin in the United States in 2012 under ambitious plans, stays in the cycling-mad Netherlands for two more days before returning home.
Sunday's 210-km second stage is between Amsterdam and Utrecht while Monday's third stage finishes in Middelburg.
Giro - Sunday 2.15pm LIVE on British Eurosport (Sky 410 / Virgin 521) and on the Eurosport Player