Garmin-Barracuda won the 33.2km team time trial fourth stage of the Giro d’Italia to catapult Ramunas Navardauskas into the pink jersey belonging to race leader.
Defending maglia rosa Taylor Phinney, complete with heavy swelling and four stitches in his right ankle after being caught up in stage three’s finish line crash, finished a disappointing tenth place on the first stage on Italian soil with his BMC team.
It was an eventful ride for the American who struggled to keep pace with his team-mates and at one point narrowly avoided crashing into a field after misjudging a corner. Remarkably he was able to keep control of his bike and he rejoined the road with grass and weeds hanging from his pedals and rear derailleur.
Katusha put in an impressive ride to finish second ahead of Astana in third. Team Sky were 30 seconds behind Garmin in ninth with Geraint Thomas now sitting seventh on the general classification.
The track-schooled riders of Orica-GreenEdge will also be disappointed with a sixth place finish, but it could have been a lot worse with Canadian time-trial champion Svein Tuft miraculously staying upright as he slid around a corner early on in the stage.
Jersey up for grabs
Garmin-Barracuda have built up a reputation for excelling in the team time trial and started the day with two men well placed on the classification after the transfer from Denmark: Alex Rasmussen third at 13 seconds and Navardauskas in fifth at 18 seconds.
Nevertheless it wasn’t all plain sailing for the Argyle Armada; they were going to have to earn their pink jersey since both Sky, BMC and Orica-GreenEdge had riders in the top ten and within 30 seconds of Phinney.
Garmin’s quick early pace was too much for Rasmussen who dropped off the back of the team on the only climb of the stage, a gentle but fast climb half way into the stage.
With Phinney struggling and Sky off the pace, Garmin looked to have the stage win in the bag and duly crossed the line in the lead to earn a career-topping pink jersey for their Lithuanian domestique. They now have eight riders in the top eight of the GC, including overall contender Ryder Hesjedal.
Ivan Basso (Liquigas-Cannondale), Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha) and Roman Kreuziger (Astana) will be the most pleased of the remaining GC contenders after both finished within 30 seconds of Garmin.
Spare a thought for John Gadret who faces even more of an uphill task in the mountains after his Ag2r-La Mondiale team ended up over 2 minutes down on the stage winners.
Giro d’Italia 2012 stage four: Verona TTT, 33.2km
1. Garmin-Barracuda 37 mins 4 secs
2. Katusha at 5 secs
3. Astana at 22 secs
4. Saxo Bank at 22 secs
5. Omega Pharma-Quickstep at 24 secs
6. Orica-GreenEdge at 25 secs
7. Liquigas-Cannondale at 26 secs
8. RadioShack-Nissan-Trek at 28 secs
9. Team Sky at 30 secs
10. BMC Racing at 31 secs
11. Movistar at 32 secs
12. Lampre-ISD at 34 secs
General Classification after stage four
1. Ramunas Navardauskas (Ltu) Garmin-Barracuda in 10-01-53
2. Tyler Farrar (USA) Garmin-Barracuda at 10 secs
3. Robbie Hunter (RSA) Garmin-Barracuda at 10 secs
4. Ryder Hesjedal (Can) Garmin-Barracuda at 11secs
5. Taylor Phinney (USA) BMC Racing at 13 secs
6. Manuele Boaro (Ita) Saxo Bank at 19 secs
7. Geraint Thomas (GBr) Sky at 21 secs
8. Sebastian Rosseler (Bel) Garmin-Barracuda at 25 secs
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