Great Britain’s Peter Kennaugh is the first leader of the King of the Mountains competition at the Girobio – the Under 27 Giro d’Italia – after launching the first attack of the nine-day race on the climb near the Great Britain’s team base in Quarrata.

Kennaugh’s attack after just 12km, sparked the break of the race and the talented Manx rider finished eighth in Modena after a tough opening stage under a scorching Italian sun. The stage was won by 21 year-old Italian Patrick Facchini (CC Cremonese – Arvedi) who attacked in the final kilometre.

Erick Rowsell was also in the break of 34 riders but but suffered in the heat. All the six Great Britain riders (Kennaugh, Rowsell, Jonny McAvoy, Andy Fenn, Mark Christian and Luke Rowe) finished and will line-up on Saturday for the 151.7km second stage from Modena to Lonato del Garda. The stage includes several tough climbs early on, although Kennaugh has an excellent chance of keeping his climber’s jersey.

The British riders were all nervously looking forward to the Giro, knowing it is the longest stage race they will ride this year. The Great Britain team will be looking for stage victories and learning for the future rather than targeting overall success.

Sadly four riders failed blood tests before the first stage of the race and were not allowed to start. According to reports in Italian media, Antonino Casimiro Parrinello (Bedogni-Grassi-Natalini-Gr. Praga), Simone Campagnaro and Francesco Vareni (Calzaturieri Montegranaro Marini Silvano) and Russia’s Pavel Kochetkov all had unusual blood values and the team of sports doctors and physiologists ruled that they were unfit to race.

The Girobio, as the new version of the Baby Giro is officially called, has been created to help fight doping in the Italian amateur ranks but the four riders and their teams have clearly not understood the message.