Bradley Wiggins’ Team Sky were victorious in the team time trial on stage two of the 2013 Giro d’Italia, with Wiggins’ teammate Salvatore Puccio taking the maglia rosa from Mark Cavendish. Bradley Wiggins is now second overall in the classification, scoring an important early psychological victory over his general classification rivals.
The second stage of the 2013 Giro d’Italia crossed the waters of the bay of Naples to the small island of Ischia, where teams tackled the technical 17.4km course from Ischia in the east to Forio in the west, the course featuring four climbs, numerous technical corners and a long exposed coastal section – a difficult course upon which to keep a team of nine riders together and avoid incidents.
Bradley Wiggins’ Team Sky were amongst the earlier teams to tackle the course as the first team out of the gate, Colombia set the early benchmark of 23:01. However, with heavyweight outfits waiting in the wings, the times were sure to tumble.
AG2R Le Mondiale immediately toppled Colombia’s opener, stopping the clock at 22:55 but the Blanco Team, supporting burgeoning GC contender Robert Gesink, almost immediately took over the hotseat with a 22:33. Meanwhile Team Sky’s blistering early pace had momentarily dislodged Danny Pate but the US rider managed to dig deep and get back on ahead of the first checkpoint, at which Sky were clear leaders at 10:12. Christian Knees was dropped shortly after the midway checkpoint, leaving Team Sky with eight riders to share the work. The Sky train continued to shell-out riders and at three-quarter distance, just five men remained, the minimum number required to register a time. However, British fans needn’t have worried, as the flying quintet stopped the clock at 22:05, fastest by far at that point.
The anxious wait of the early pacesetter was Wiggins’ and his team’s lot for the remainder of the stage, with all the GC contenders teams still to come. 2011 Giro winner Michele Scarponi’s Lampre-Merida came close at the intermediate split, just a second shy of Sky, but struggled in the latter stages, almost dropping their vital fifth man on the final climb. Alex Dowsett’s Movistar team then came through the check two seconds faster than Wiggins’ outfit and the race was on. However, Movistar couldn’t maintain their early pace, stopping the clock at 22:14, still ultimately good enough for second place, leaving Giro debutant Dowsett in 9th on GC after two stages.
Vincenzo Nibali’s Astana team were the next to hit the intermediate timecheck, six seconds off the pace of his arch rival Wiggins’ team, eventually finishing 14 seconds down on Team Sky, eventually good enough for third. Defending champion Ryder Hesjedal’s Garmin Sharp team were also off the pace at the midpoint; Hesjedal’s British teammate David Millar apparently suffering no ill effects following a spill on stage one. However, Garmin Sharp eventually lost a crucial 25 seconds to Wiggins’ team.
Adam Blythe took an early exit from BMC’s effort, leaving compatriot Steve Cummings to support Cadel Evan’s bid for GC contention. BMC too were off the pace of Sky and, as the afternoon wore on, the British team’s effort began to look impregnable.
Maglia rosa holder Mark Cavendish’s Omega Pharma Quick Step team faced a massive task if they were to keep their leader in the pink for a second day, 24 seconds off the pace at the intermediate checkpoint. After 17km, Cavendish’s spell in pink was over, the Belgium-based squad 48 seconds off Sky’s pace. Cavendish however remained in the points jersey going into stage three.
In the end, no one could trouble Sky and it fell to Wiggins’ Italian teammate Salvatore Puccio to don the pink jersey, with Sky chalking up their first chronological and psychological advantage over their General Classification rivals.
1. Sky Procycling 22:05 47.275kmh
2. Movistar Team @ 0:09
3. Astana Pro Team @ 0:14
4. Katusha Team @ 0:19
5. Vini Fantini @ 0:22
6. Lampre - Merida @ 0:22
7. Garmin - Sharp @ 0:25
8. Blanco Pro Cycling Team @ 0:28
9. Orica GreenEDGE @ 0:28
10. Vacansoleil - DCM @ 0:34