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Giro Notebook, Stage 4: Garmin’s TTT prowess; Haedo hopeful

Garmin-Barracuda confirmed its prowess in the team time trial with a narrow but dramatic victory in Wednesday’s fourth stage at the Giro d’Italia.

Not only did the team win by five seconds over surprise Katusha, it pushed Ramunas Navardauskas into the pink jersey.

The American squad excels in the discipline and proved yet again that when there’s a team effort, Garmin can always be counted among the favorites for victory.

“It’s fantastic. We love the TTT at Garmin,” said Tyler Farrar, who slotted into second overall at 10 seconds back. “It’s our thing. It’s a race we wanted to win and to take the pink jersey is even better. It’s partly a question of motivation; we take it very seriously. We think about every detail and that makes a difference.”

The win is Garmin’s second in the discipline at the Giro and its fifth TTT victory since 2008.

Garmin has put a special focus on the TTT since its inception, bringing its A-team to each event and spending more time than most squads on training and preparing for the discipline.

On Wednesday, Garmin coach and head of sport science Robby Ketchell said the initial goal was to win the stage without thinking about the pink jersey.

“The plan was to ride for the stage win, so to take the jersey, too, is a bonus. Everything was focused toward the team win,” Ketchell said. “We put a lot of effort in the TTT. It’s nice to get the win.”

Garmin’s win at all costs approach became evident when Garmin’s best-placed rider, Alex Rasmussen, who started third overall at just 13 seconds back, faltered under the withering pace, opening the door for Navardauskas.

The Lithuanian, who held the “hot seat” in Saturday’s opening time trial until the final wave of riders, started the stage fifth, at 18 seconds back.

Garmin’s dominance in the TTT dates back to its first elite season in 2008, when it delivered an emotional opening-stage Giro victory in Palermo.

That put Christian Vande Velde into the pink jersey, just the second American to wear the maglia rosa. Things were so chaotic in the aftermath of that stage, Vande Velde was left stranded at the finish line and had to take a taxi back to the team hotel while wearing the pink jersey.

That same year, Garmin won the TTT at the now-defunct Tour de Georgia and finished second in the TTT at both the Giro and Tour de France in 2009.

Its focus on the TTT reached its peak last year when the team won at the Tour de France. Without a doubt, Garmin will be looking to continue its run at the first-ever professional team time trial race held the weekend before the world road cycling championships in Valkenburg, Holland, in September.

For the immediate present, Garmin is in the driver’s seat in Italy. With Farrar poised in second place, he can inherit the pink jersey if he’s first or second in Thursday’s fifth stage, thanks to 20- and 12-second bonuses waiting at the finish line.

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