Mark Cavendish took the first overall leader’s jersey at Tirreno-Adriatico Wednesday when his Omega Pharma-Quick Step team won the stage 1 team time trial in San Vincenzo, Italy.
The Belgian team registered a time of 20:13, winning the 18.5-kilometer stage by 11 seconds over Orica-GreenEdge. Movistar was third, at 18 seconds.
“You have to get everything perfect to win a team time trial and so it’s always more rewarding when you pull it off and you get to stand on the podium together,” said Cavendish. “It’s good to start off with a win. It’s going to build our morale. We want to do well in the sprints, we want to do well in the mountain stages, and we want to do well in the GC, too.
“We’re ready. We’ll cover all our bases and see what happens.”
The stage win was a shot in the arm to Omega Pharma’s hopes in the overall with Michal Kwiatkowski and Rigoberto Urán second and eighth, respectively, behind Cavendish.
Nairo Quintana (Movistar) fared the best of the other GC contenders, and is 18 seconds off the pace. Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo) is 24 seconds down on Urán and Co., Ivan Basso (Cannondale) is at 26 seconds, and Sky finished sixth on the stage to leave Richie Porte and former Tour de France winner Bradley Wiggins 27 seconds in arrears.
“It is true that we have conceded a little more than we’d like, especially with Omega, which has a rider who is in incredible form, Kwiatkowski, and also has Rigoberto Urán for the general classification, but is also true that we could take differences over other teams and therefore, except for Omega, the differences have been pretty good,” said Contador.
Robert Gesink (Belkin) will start Thursday’s second stage 37 ticks down in the overall, but former Tour winner Cadel Evans (BMC Racing), reigning Vuelta a España champion Chris Horner (Lampre-Merida), and former Giro d’Italia winner Michele Scarponi (Astana) lost the most time of the big-name GC riders, ceding 47, 53, and 54 seconds, respectively. American Andrew Talansky and Garmin-Sharp lost 1:04 on the day, finishing 18th of 22 teams.
Tirreno-Adriatico continues Thursday with the 166km second leg, from San Vincenzo to Cascina, which is likely to end in a bunch sprint.
Agence France Presse contributed to this report.