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Giro d'Italia 2012: Stage 1


The Giro d'Italia has started! Join us for the first grand tour of the season!

Welcome to the Giro d'Italia! The first grand tour of the 2012 season kicks off today with an 8.7km individual time trial in downtown Herning, Denmark. Yes, Denmark.

The first rider off today, at 15:40 CET was Jackson Rodriguez of Androni Giacattoli-Venezuela, and he brought in a slow time of  11:58. Robert Hunter (Garmin-Barracuda) was the first to break the 11 minute barrier,w ith a time of 10:54.

And with that we have a new leader! Ramunas Navardauskas of Garmin-Barracuda takes over from his teammate, with a time of 10:48.

It was sunny this morning, but “very windy”, a NetApp spokeswoman told us. “They have been calling for rain for three days but it is still dry.” Let's hope it stays that way!

New Zealander Jesse Sergent of RadioShack Nissan just misses out on a new best time.

It is still sunny but cool.  We have heard from 8°C to 13°C, either of which is pretty darned chilly.

One of the corners -- one of the sharp ones, of course -- is pretty wet.  Don't think it has rained so perhaps something has spilled. At any rate, it is pretty dangerous.

There are some cobblestones along the way as well.

There is one interesting thing to note. Team Orica-GreenEdge is wearing numbers 100 to 107 and 109.  There is no 108, as it has been retired in honour of the late Wouter Weylandt.

Attention royalty watchers! Crown Prince Frederik and Princess Mary are in attendance. And they are appropriately clad, he with a pink tie and she with a pink blouse.

Jack Bobridge of Orica-GreenEdge is a favourite today, but he had to slow down a lot at that wet corner.

What is Herning known for? For being the birthplace of one Bjarne Riis.... yes, that name rings a bell. And wouldn't he dearly love to have one of his riders win today?

Lots of people out along the street watching the riders today.

The profile today is flat. Not exactly pancake flat, but let's put it this way: the lowest point is 45 metres. The highest point is 59 metres.

That doesn't make it an easy course though. There are a total of 17 curves and turns on this city course.

Roman Kreuziger, captain of the Astana team, is already out on the course.  He is the first of the favourites for the overall title to take to the road.

This is in fact the furthest north that any stage of any grand tour has ever been held.

Kreuziger looks serious about this! He is really going for it.

As always, the riders went off at one minute intervals, up until the end. The final 22 riders will take off at two-minute intervals.

Kreuziger approaches the finish line and crosses it with a time of 11:02. He won't win the stage, but that ought to put him in very good position amongst the favourites.

Anders Lund of Saxo Bank ws proud to be starting the race in his homeland, and sure hopes that things turn around for his team. He talked to Cyclingnews about it all.

There is lots of sunshine in Denmark, but in the background we see a lot of clouds lurking. Stay away!

BMC's Alessandro Ballan is on the course now, and has no troubles at all with the cobblestones.

Team NetApp didn't exactly get a nice welcome to the Giro. Their team bus was broken into overnight. No great damage was done, though, we are told.

Oops! Ballan runs a red light.

And Balland has only one km to go. He won't set a new best time, though.

He finally crosses the line with a time of 11:05. Which isn't bad.

Tyler Farrar is at the Giro again this year. He abandoned last year following the death of his close friend Wouter Weylandt. How is he coping with it? You can read his comments here.

Andreas Dietziker of NetApp is the next to take to the road.

Is this the most international Giro ever? Well, it sure is far away from Italy at the moment. Some riders tell us what they think of the start of the race in Denmark.

A Liquigas rider is the next to arrive. Who is it? Sylvester Szmyd. He is a bit slow, only at 11:25.

The team presentation was held last night.  Of course we have a report and photos!

Australian Luke Roberts of Saxo Bank nears the finish line. 11:03 for him.

Brett Lancaster of Orica-GreenEdge has set a new best time at the intermediate time check. His time was 5:15, which was 3 seconds faster than the time set by Jesse Sergent.

In fact, Lancaster is approaching his two-minute man, Andrey Zeits of Astana.

Lancaster has now passed Zeits and keeps on going.....

Will Lancaster set a new best time?

No! He is one second down!

Robbie Hunter is riding his fourth Giro, and he sees pretty good chances for his team Garmin-Barracuda. He says teammate Alex Rasmussen has a chance to win today “but it will be difficult”.

Mark Cavendish is just about to go.  Not used to seeing him in the black team kit!

RadioShack-Nissan's Daniele Bennati is coming to the finish. With a time over 11 minutes, he won't play a role today.

BMC's Marco Pinotti has taken to the course. He might be a possible winner today.

World champion and new daddy Mark Cavendish is looking at six sprint stages in this year's Giro, before heading off to his season's top goals, the Tour and the Olympics.

Cavendish is nearly done with this stage. What kind of time will he have?

Not a bad one at all for him, 11:13.

Pinotti is in the last km now, and may well set a new best time.

He takes the last big corner and heads in to the finish line.

But no! He misses it too and comes in two seconds down, currently in third place.

Joaquim Rodriguez has been itching for a long time to win a grand tour, and would like to claim a Spanish victory in the Italian race. Can he overcome his time trial weakness to take the overall title at last?

Canadian Ryder Hesjedal of Garmin-Barracuda is tearing up the road now. Does he have a good chance today?

But he too will just miss out on the top time and crosses the line at 10:55.

The peloton of course checked out this course yesterday.  Some photos of those recon rides are here.

Svein Tuft of Orica-GreenEdge takes off, in the very colourful kit of the Canadian time trial champion.

Adriano Malori of Lampre is even more colourful, with his Italian time trial champion's kit.

Tyler Farrar is underway now. He will look to beat Cavendish in all those sprint stages.

Former world champion Thor Hushovd is on the course as well. He is probably nearing the finish by now. Yup, just crossed under the flamme rouge.

Needless to say, no winning time today for Thor.

Geraint Thomas (Sky) is another one who wants to win today. He took the Romandie prologue and has calculated exactly what he has to do today to win.

Vacansoleil's Thomas De Gendt is the next to head to the finish line.  He brings in a time of 10:58, making him eleventh at the moment.

Damiano Cunego of Lampre sets off -- looking for the title here?

Farrar won't set a new best time, but it will still be a good time. He crosses the line at 11: 02.

Peter Stetina of Garmin-Barracuda checked out the route yesterday, and was hit by a car. Fortunately, he is ok. There is debate, though, as to whether he and the team knew that the course was not blocked to traffic when he went for his ride.

Jose Rujano is underway now, which means we are approaching the end.  From here on, there will be a two-minute gap.

Nelson Oliveira of RadioShack-Nissan puts in a good performance and is currently fifth.

Geraint Thomas takes off in search of the win....

Cunego nears the finish. He won't win today but has a time of 11:29, which is really not good at all.

Manuele Boaro of Saxo Bank is being treated as a dark horse to take the win today. Wouldn't the Danish team love to win?

Thomas has the best time at the intermediate time check.

OPQS's Michal Kwiatkkoski has had a good ride, with a time of 10:55.

Only one km to go for Boaro.  Will he finally be the one to set a new best time?

His chances are looking good!

Boaro is giving his all -- and yes! He takes it, with 10:41, cutting seven seconds of the best time.

Taylor Phinney is on the course now, and is also a favourite to win today.

Boaro's time atop the boards won't last long, we think. Thomas is almost in.

Boaro watches as Thomas sets the next best time, at 10:35.

The last km for Phinney, and he looks good.  But how good?

Looks like he will take it!

And he does! An outstanding performance and he crosses the line at 10:26! Hard to imagine that anyone will beat that time!

There are still a number of riders to come, of course. It is doubtful they will beat Phinney's time, but most of them are looking more at the overall anyway.

How much did Phinney want to win today?  "I know that I can potentially change my life on Saturday. I can change my year, my career in a way and post my biggest result to date in just 10 minutes of racing. That's just extra motivation for me."

There is still a Dane with a chance here: Alex Rasmussen of Garmin-Barracuda. He is giving it his all.

Joauquim Rodriguez is underway now. He has his eye on the title in Milan in three weeks. Don't expect too much from him today, as time trialing is really not his strength at all.

Gustav Erik Larsson of Vacansoliel brings in the fourth best time. He had hoped to do better.

Fränk Schleck takes off! He was the last minute call-up to captain RadioShack-Nissan here in the Giro.

Rasmussen comes to the finsh -- not with the best time. He can hit the podium though as he is third at 10:39.

Ivan Basso is the next to go. Only three more riders to take the start.

The third-to-last rider to go is Stef Clement of Rabobank, resplendent in the red, white and blue of the Dutch champion.

Basso hasn't had much luck so far this year. Will he be able to turn things around in this Giro?

The next rider, and next to last, is Jan Barta of NetApp.  He won the Settimani Coppi e Bartali, and Rund um Köln.

Somehow we missed Filippo Pozatto taking off before Basso. We are not sure how we could have missed him as he head to toe floresent green......does he glow in the dark?

Michele Scarponi, pretty in pink! He was just awarded the 2011 title and trophy last week.Off he goes!

Oops, we were a bit early. But now he has rolled down the starting ramp!

Fränk Schleck puts in his usual time trial performance, finishing nearly one minute down.

Pozzato finishes as 19th.

Basso is the next to come to the finish line. How will he do?

No top ten for him today, and he doesn't break the 11 minute barrier.

Three riders to go!

Clement is on his way to the finish line, and he too is no danger to Phinney.

10.54 and 12th place for the Dutch tt champ.

Barta as the penultimate rider crosses under the flamme rouge.

Barta pushes it but won't be on the podium.

Eleven minutes exactly for the NetApp captain.

And then there was one -- the extremely pink-clad Scarponi.

Phinney has won.  Scarponi is now already over the winner's time.

Scarponi comes in rather leisurely, with a time of 11:32 for 135th place.

Congratulations to Taylor Phinney, only 21 years old and winner of the first stage of the 2012 Giro d'Italia!

And here is the top ten, not only of the stage but also for the overall, of course:

And here again, this time in our usual format: 

Congratulations to Phinney and all the riders. And thanks for joining us today.  Be sure to read along tomorrow for the second stage with its expected mass sprint finish!

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