For a few minutes in Denmark yesterday it looked as if Team Sky's Geraint Thomas might walk away with the Giro d'Italia's maglia rosa and clinch an opening individual time trial win for the second time in as many races. His super-quick time of 10:35 for the 8.7km course catapulted him to the head of the standings, only for him to see BMC's Taylor Phinney relegate him into second spot and deny him a repeat victory after his success at the Tour de Romandie late last month.
Thomas, whose speedy form comes on the back of his record-breaking success at the 2012 Track World Championships in Melbourne in early April, set a sectional time of 5:14 for the first 4.5km, which survived for the rest of the day. But he was pinned back by Phinney's searing finish and had to settle for the number two position on the podium.
"I think I measured it pretty well. I tried to carry my speed through the corners, one or two I could have gone a bit faster but losing by nine seconds I can't blame it on a couple of corners," he said after the finish.
"Coming from the track, there's a temptation to try and sprint fast out of those corners but that would obviously take a lot out of me so it was all about judging it correctly which I think I did.
"I definitely tried to keep a bit back for the last 3k and that headwind and then I emptied the tank all the way to the line. It didn't feel amazing but I was obviously going okay and am happy to have been up there. There are now another 20 stages to go and at the end of the day it's about the bigger picture - I'll be there in the sprints for Cav [Mark Cavendish] and then hopefully finish this race well which will set me up nicely for the Olympics."
Team Sky sporting director Steve De Jongh was impressed with Thomas' speed over the first half of the course, which was more demanding technically, and satisfied with the team's overall showing.
"G produced a really good display and did his best - unfortunately Phinney was faster on the day," he said.
"The first part of the course was very technical, with a lot of corners, and then after 5km they were much bigger and more straightforward roads. After the intermediate check G had a long headwind section and he kept the speed going really going through it, he judged it well throughout.
"That headwind was particularly strong for the likes of Peter Kennaugh, Cav and [Juan Antonio] Flecha who all set good times and looked really strong, so it was a good day for us."