By Shane Stokes in Palermo
Grinning broadly, dressed in the maglia rosa as he sat at the post-race press conference, Christian Vande Velde was clearly satisfied with the Team Slipstream Chipotle H30 performance on day one of the Giro d'Italia.
The American Professional Continental squad justified its invite to the race with a resounding win, covering the 23.6 kilometre course in a time of 26 minutes and 32 seconds, six faster than CSC and a further one ahead of High Road. It followed on from the team's second place in the TTT at the Tour of Qatar and its win in the same discipline at the Tour de Georgia.
Vande Velde crossed the line just ahead of US TT champion Dave Zabriskie and in doing so, took the first Grand Tour leader's jersey of his career. While he's delighted to be in pink, he said that if he loses it, he'd like to see the jersey go elsewhere in the Slipstream squad.
"We came here with one objective and one objective only and that was to win today," he stated. "We did that. It is a pretty unreal thing to do, especially when you are a second division team and in your first year of really getting together. We are over the moon.
"Now we will just take it day by day. We are easy, we are happy with one day in pink. The next objective for me, personally, would be to pass it to one of my team-mates. I was lucky enough to have it for one day and I want to spread that around.
"It wasn't me who won today, it was my team. If it could be Ryder [Hesjedal], it could be Magnus [Backstedt], I don't care...as long as one of my other team-mates gets a share of the glory."
Reassuringly, the team has a strict anti-doping policy and so the win on day one of the Giro is a boost for the sport. "I think it is a great sign," he continued. "I think it is a sign of a new cycling. You can't forget about CSC and High Road [second and third] either, who do great performances and who have the same programmes as ourselves.
"The first three teams today plus Astana were those with the biggest anti-doping programmes within their teams. So that shows you that clean teams are winning now. You can say without a doubt that a clean team won today."
Continue to the full coverage of the opening stage of the Giro d'Italia.