Sky team cyclists pedal on their way to winning a team time trial, in the second stage of the Giro d’Italia, in the southern Italian island of Ischia, Sunday, May 5, 2013. Tour de France winner Bradley Wiggins powered the Sky team to victory and moved into second place overall, while his Italian teammate Salvatore Puccio took the leader’s pink jersey. (AP Photo/Fabio Ferrari)
By Alasdair Fotheringham
ISCHIA, Italy, May 5 (Reuters) – Team Sky took a morale-boosting victory in the Giro d’Italia team time trial as overall contender Bradley Wiggins moved up to second overall and gained time on his rivals on Sunday.
Second in the short, hilly and very technical second stage were Spanish squad Movistar, nine seconds back, with Astana, led by Wiggins’s key rival Vincenzo Nibali, third at 14 seconds.
The first Team Sky rider to cross the line in Saturday’s first stage, Italian Salvatore Puccio, took the overall leader’s pink jersey.
“It’s a surprise to have taken the pink jersey but I’m very happy,” Puccio told reporters.
“The idea was for it to go to (Italian team mate Dario) Cataldo, but I hung on in there, and finished in the same time as the rest of the squad.
“I’m riding my first Grand Tour and have to thank the team for this special moment. It will be great to wear the leader’s jersey for a few days, I will ride up front and see what happens,” added Sicilian Puccio, who turned professional last year.
His best professional result to date was third place in a stage of last year’s Tour of Switzerland.
Wiggins himself drove hard in the early part of the highly technical 17.4-km team time trial course, featuring four short and sharp climbs, twisting descents and even a short tunnel a little before the finish on Ischia’s sundrenched coastline.
Despite losing American Danny Pate early on, the British team clocked the second best time at the mid-way checkpoint behind Movistar.
After shedding more riders to shrink to a minimum unit of five at the finish, Sky were still the fastest squad home, netting the British squad their first Grand Tour team time trial victory.
Wiggins has a 14-second advantage over Italian Nibali, third in last year’s Tour de France behind the Briton.
He leads Italian Michele Scarponi, who won the Giro in 2011, by 22 seconds while defending champion Ryder Hesjedal of Canada lags 25 seconds behind the pace after his Garmin-Sharp team produced a notably below-par performance.
Cadel Evans’s BMC Racing team were 12th, 37 seconds behind Sky.
Nibali, who beat Wiggins at the Giro del Trentino last month, was satisfied with Sunday’s results.
“It’s not that bad a difference,” Nibali told reporters.
“It was a very technical course and our team have a lot of climbers, not time trial specialists. We can be satisfied.”
Puccio will lead the race on Monday’s stage three, a 212-km hilly ride from Sorrento to Marina di Ascea.
The Giro finishes in Brescia on May 26th.