Four years ago on the streets of Palermo, the Garmin team announced itself on the world stage with a defining win in the Giro d'Italia team time trial. In the intervening years, the squad has changed - riders leaving, riders joining - but on Wednesday the American team stamped its authority on the team time trial once again, storming to victory with a time of 37:04.
It was enough to put Garmin-Barracuda's Ramunas Navardauskas into pink, with previous race leader Taylor Phinney (BMC) succumbing to his injuries and losing the maglia rosa after an eventful four days of racing.
Katusha finished second, five seconds down, leaving Joaquim Rodriguez with the biggest smile among the overall contenders. The Spaniard put over 20 seconds into his main rivals and sits in the pole position as the race heads towards the first skirmishes in the mountains.
"We thought we could win today, but I wasn't sure if I could hang with these guys," Navardauskas said at the finish.
"They were really strong today. Everybody did a good job. I was so glad to stay with these guys as I tired in the last 10 kilometres. This jersey is a really big thing for me."
"I like this team. They have taken care of me last year and this year and brought me to good races. I did the Tour de France last year, I didn't expect [Jonathan] Vaughters to bring me. This year I'm at the Giro, and it's been a really good start for me up to now, although we'll see how it is tomorrow."
Although Garmin-Barracuda was the favourite heading into the event, it was widely expected that Alex Rasmussen would be the assassin to end Phinney's reign. However when the Dane was surprisingly dropped, Navardauskas quickly moved to centre stage.
Garmin-Barracuda had two aims: the stage win and propelling Ryder Hesejdal into a secure GC spot. Two aims but one method: ride fast. It meant Navardauskas had to hang on for dear life as the Garmin train neared the finished. After starting 18 seconds down in the battle for pink, finishing behind his teammates could have ended his flirtation with pink.
He briefly slipped off the back, the pink jersey momentary heading in another direction. However, the Lithuanian recovered as his teammates eased on one of the final corners, latching onto the slipstream and holding on for the line. It meant that the maglia rosa passed to another promising talent, with Phinney unable to pull of the impossible and keep the jersey for another day.
"I had a bad day personally," Phinney said.
"I don't know if it was the crash the other day or what, but I had nothing today. The team had to wait for me a couple of times, I have to thank them. Fortunately I didn't fall today as well, but from my third pull on the front, I could see that something wasn't right. I'm very disappointed, I don't have a lot to say. I didn't have a lot of power. I gave the maximum, I gave everything I have. I have to thank they team. They could have left me but instead they slowed and waited for me."
When he returns to the team hotel, Phinney can look back at what has been a whirlwind few days. In pink on stage 1, several crashes and a near abandonment, he has lit up a race desperate for international recognition. Heading into the Giro, the primary goal was the finish, and the second year pro must now muster the necessary strength for another two weeks.
His ride today summed up his four-day Giro perfectly. Starting in pink, Phinney rose to the occasion before veering off the road briefly. He finished strongly, taking turns at the front of the BMC train all the way until the line. He'll be hoping he can finish the Giro d'Italia in such fashion.
In the battle for the overall, Rodriguez is in the strongest position, a statement one would not have expected to have made at the start of the race and with over 40 kilometres of time trialing covered.
"The team did a spectacular team time trial. We couldn't have gone a second faster. We'll see what Liquigas and Astana do, but we've done our bit," the Katusha leader said.
Ivan Basso (Liquigas-Cannondale), Roman Kreuziger (Astana) and Frank Schleck (RadioShack-Nissan) all sit in close proximity, while the Lampre duo of Michele Scarponi and Damiano Cunego are on the back foot. John Gadret (AG2R La Mondiale) at 2:43 and Domenico Pozzovivo (Colnago - CSF Inox) are the furthest back.
|3||Astana Pro Team||0:00:22|
|4||Team Saxo Bank||Row 3 - Cell 2|
|10||BMC Racing Team||0:00:31|
|14||Farnese Vini-Selle Italia||0:00:59|
|15||Rabobank Cycling Team||0:01:01|
|16||Lotto Belisol Team||0:01:05|
|17||Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team||0:01:10|
|18||FDJ-BigMat||Row 17 - Cell 2|
|1||Ramunas Navardauskas (Ltu) Garmin - Barracuda||10:01:53|
|2||Tyler Farrar (USA) Garmin - Barracuda||0:00:10|
|3||Robert Hunter (RSA) Garmin - Barracuda||Row 2 - Cell 2|
|4||Ryder Hesjedal (Can) Garmin - Barracuda||0:00:11|
|5||Taylor Phinney (USA) BMC Racing Team||0:00:13|
|6||Manuele Boaro (Ita) Team Saxo Bank||0:00:19|
|7||Geraint Thomas (GBr) Sky Procycling||0:00:21|
|8||Sébastien Rosseler (Bel) Garmin - Barracuda||0:00:25|
|9||Christian Vande Velde (USA) Garmin - Barracuda||0:00:26|
|10||Joaquim Rodriguez Oliver (Spa) Katusha Team||0:00:30|
|11||Brett Lancaster (Aus) Orica GreenEdge Cycling Team||Row 10 - Cell 2|
|12||Matthew Harley Goss (Aus) Orica GreenEdge Cycling Team||Row 11 - Cell 2|
|13||Peter Stetina (USA) Garmin - Barracuda||0:00:31|
|14||Daniel Moreno Fernandez (Spa) Katusha Team||0:00:33|
|15||Enrico Gasparotto (Ita) Astana Pro Team||Row 14 - Cell 2|
|16||Alexander Kristoff (Nor) Katusha Team||0:00:35|
|17||Michal Kwiatkowski (Pol) Omega Pharma-Quickstep||Row 16 - Cell 2|
|18||Jesse Sergent (NZl) RadioShack-Nissan||0:00:36|
|19||Nelson Oliveira (Por) RadioShack-Nissan||0:00:37|
|20||Dario Cataldo (Ita) Omega Pharma-Quickstep||Row 19 - Cell 2|
|21||Marco Pinotti (Ita) BMC Racing Team||Row 20 - Cell 2|
|22||Maciej Bodnar (Pol) Liquigas-Cannondale||Row 21 - Cell 2|
|23||Angel Vicioso Arcos (Spa) Katusha Team||0:00:38|
|24||Julien Vermote (Bel) Omega Pharma-Quickstep||0:00:39|
|25||Mark Cavendish (GBr) Sky Procycling||Row 24 - Cell 2|
|26||Roman Kreuziger (Cze) Astana Pro Team||0:00:40|
|27||Tanel Kangert (Est) Astana Pro Team||Row 26 - Cell 2|
|28||Luke Roberts (Aus) Team Saxo Bank||0:00:41|
|29||Fabio Sabatini (Ita) Liquigas-Cannondale||0:00:42|
|30||Giacomo Nizzolo (Ita) RadioShack-Nissan||Row 29 - Cell 2|
|31||Gatis Smukulis (Lat) Katusha Team||0:00:45|
|32||Jack Bauer (NZl) Garmin - Barracuda||Row 31 - Cell 2|
|33||Ivan Basso (Ita) Liquigas-Cannondale||0:00:47|
|34||Pavel Brutt (Rus) Katusha Team||Row 33 - Cell 2|
|35||Martin Velits (Svk) Omega Pharma-Quickstep||Row 34 - Cell 2|
|36||Adriano Malori (Ita) Lampre - ISD||0:00:49|
|37||Juan Antonio Flecha Giannoni (Spa) Sky Procycling||Row 36 - Cell 2|
|38||Daryl Impey (RSA) Orica GreenEdge Cycling Team||0:00:50|
|39||Paolo Tiralongo (Ita) Astana Pro Team||0:00:51|
|40||Jan Bakelants (Bel) RadioShack-Nissan||Row 39 - Cell 2|
|41||Alessandro Ballan (Ita) BMC Racing Team||0:00:52|
|42||Thomas Rohregger (Aut) RadioShack-Nissan||0:00:53|
|43||Giovanni Visconti (Ita) Movistar Team||0:00:55|
|44||Damiano Caruso (Ita) Liquigas-Cannondale||Row 43 - Cell 2|
|45||Valerio Agnoli (Ita) Liquigas-Cannondale||0:00:56|
|46||Benat Intxausti Elorriaga (Spa) Movistar Team||Row 45 - Cell 2|
|47||Eros Capecchi (Ita) Liquigas-Cannondale||0:00:57|
|48||Mikhail Ignatyev (Rus) Katusha Team||Row 47 - Cell 2|
|49||Marzio Bruseghin (Ita) Movistar Team||Row 48 - Cell 2|
|50||Matteo Tosatto (Ita) Team Saxo Bank||Row 49 - Cell 2|
|51||Jens Keukeleire (Bel) Orica GreenEdge Cycling Team||Row 50 - Cell 2|
|52||Michal Golas (Pol) Omega Pharma-Quickstep||0:00:58|
|53||Rigoberto Uran Uran (Col) Sky Procycling||Row 52 - Cell 2|
|54||Christian Meier (Can) Orica GreenEdge Cycling Team||Row 53 - Cell 2|
|55||Daniele Bennati (Ita) RadioShack-Nissan||0:00:59|
|56||Jan Barta (Cze) Team NetApp||Row 55 - Cell 2|
|57||Peter Kennaugh (GBr) Sky Procycling||0:01:01|
|58||Jonas Aaen Jörgensen (Den) Team Saxo Bank||Row 57 - Cell 2|
|59||Branislau Samoilau (Blr) Movistar Team||Row 58 - Cell 2|
|60||Serge Pauwels (Bel) Omega Pharma-Quickstep||0:01:02|
|61||Aliaksandr Kuchynski (Blr) Katusha Team||0:01:03|
|62||José Herrada Lopez (Spa) Movistar Team||Row 61 - Cell 2|
|63||Kevin Seeldraeyers (Bel) Astana Pro Team||Row 62 - Cell 2|
|64||Sylvester Szmyd (Pol) Liquigas-Cannondale||0:01:07|
|65||Andrey Amador Bakkazakova (CRc) Movistar Team||Row 64 - Cell 2|
|66||Evgeny Petrov (Rus) Astana Pro Team||Row 65 - Cell 2|
|67||Matthias Brandle (Aut) Team NetApp||0:01:08|
|68||Frank Schleck (Lux) RadioShack-Nissan||0:01:09|
|69||Mathias Frank (Swi) BMC Racing Team||Row 68 - Cell 2|
|70||Simone Ponzi (Ita) Astana Pro Team||0:01:10|
|71||Stef Clement (Ned) Rabobank Cycling Team||0:01:11|
|72||Ian Stannard (GBr) Sky Procycling||Row 71 - Cell 2|
|73||Nikolas Maes (Bel) Omega Pharma-Quickstep||0:01:12|
|74||Filippo Pozzato (Ita) Farnese Vini - Selle Italia||0:01:13|
|75||Diego Ulissi (Ita) Lampre - ISD||Row 74 - Cell 2|
|76||Bartosz Huzarski (Pol) Team NetApp||0:01:14|
|77||Gustav Larsson (Swe) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team||Row 76 - Cell 2|
|78||Sergio Luis Henao Montoya (Col) Sky Procycling||0:01:15|
|79||Reto Hollenstein (Swi) Team NetApp||Row 78 - Cell 2|
|80||Fumiyuki Beppu (Jpn) Orica GreenEdge Cycling Team||0:01:17|
|81||Volodymir Gustov (Ukr) Team Saxo Bank||Row 80 - Cell 2|
|82||Daniel Schorn (Aut) Team NetApp||Row 81 - Cell 2|
|83||Damiano Cunego (Ita) Lampre - ISD||0:01:19|
|84||Danilo Wyss (Swi) BMC Racing Team||0:01:20|
|85||Michele Scarponi (Ita) Lampre - ISD||0:01:22|
|86||Thomas De Gendt (Bel) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team||0:01:24|
|87||Timon Seubert (Ger) Team NetApp||Row 86 - Cell 2|
|88||Sergio Pardilla Bellon (Spa) Movistar Team||0:01:25|
|89||Lucas Sebastian Haedo (Arg) Team Saxo Bank||0:01:26|
|90||Mauro Santambrogio (Ita) BMC Racing Team||Row 89 - Cell 2|
|91||Geoffrey Soupe (Fra) FDJ-Big Mat||0:01:29|
|92||Andreas Dietziker (Swi) Team NetApp||0:01:32|
|93||Francis De Greef (Bel) Lotto Belisol Team||0:01:33|
|94||Johann Tschopp (Swi) BMC Racing Team||Row 93 - Cell 2|
|95||Matteo Rabottini (Ita) Farnese Vini - Selle Italia||Row 94 - Cell 2|
|96||Tom Jelte Slagter (Ned) Rabobank Cycling Team||0:01:34|
|97||Przemyslaw Niemiec (Pol) Lampre - ISD||0:01:35|
|98||Oliver Zaugg (Swi) RadioShack-Nissan||0:01:36|
|99||Grischa Niermann (Ger) Rabobank Cycling Team||Row 98 - Cell 2|
|100||Cesare Benedetti (Ita) Team NetApp||0:01:37|