ISCHIA, Italy (AP) — Bradley Wiggins is already in control of the Giro d’Italia.
The Tour de France winner powered Sky to victory Sunday in the Italian classic’s second stage, a team time trial, and moved into second place overall. The only person in front of him is Italian teammate Salvatore Puccio, who is regarded mainly as a support rider but took the leader’s pink jersey because of his better result in Saturday’s opening stage.
“It’s a bit unexpected but I’m happy to have it,” Puccio said.
Sky finished in 22 minutes, 5 seconds along the picturesque 10.8-mile route on the island of Ischia. Movistar was second, 9 seconds behind, and Astana — with Wiggins’ expected rival for the title, Vincenzo Nibali of Italy — was third, 14 seconds back.
The Omega Pharma-Quick Step team featuring stage 1 winner Mark Cavendish finished 17th, 48 seconds behind Sky. Omega sorely missed time trial specialist Tony Martin, who is not riding the Giro.
Wiggins, the Briton who followed his Tour title with a gold medal in the time trial at last year’s London Olympics, has the same time as Puccio in the overall standings. Another Sky rider, Sergio Henao Montoya of Colombia, is third overall, also with the same time.
The nine Sky riders took part in a wild podium celebration, dousing each other with the provided bottles of champagne.
“Today went well, but this is just the start,” said Sky team director Marcus Ljungqvist.
Wiggins gained 14 seconds on Nibali and 25 seconds on defending champion Ryder Hesjedal of Canada.
“It was a good performance for our team,” Nibali said. “We’re not time trial specialists — most of us are climbers — so this is OK.”
Other contenders such as 2011 Tour winner Cadel Evans of BMC and 2008 Olympic champion Samuel Sanchez of Euskaltel lost even more time with their teams.
The stage was held in perfect conditions on a technical course featuring two difficult climbs in the second half of the stage.
Cyclists arrived on the island off Naples by ferry Sunday morning and were returning to the mainland by boat immediately after the stage.
The Giro remains in the Naples region for Monday’s third stage, a hilly and lengthy 138-mile leg from Sorrento to Marina di Ascea that follows the breathtaking Amalfi coast.