American Taylor Phinney took the first pink jersey of race leader at the four-day Giro del Trentino in Italy yesterday as his BMC team stormed to victory in the opening team time trial in Arco, while Nicolas Roche's Ag2r squad fell apart in the 15km race against the clock.
Phinney led home the Swiss-based team for a time of 15 minutes and 50 seconds, a full 20 seconds faster than their nearest rivals Astana.
Roche was the sole Irish starter after Philip Deignan was taken ill on Friday night with gastroenteritis. Deignan hopes to start the week-long Tour of Turkey on Sunday instead.
Roche's Ag2r La Mondiale team finished 53 seconds down on BMC yesterday for 15th place after what Roche described as a "disastrous" start to the mountainous four-day race.
The French-based team lost three riders in the first half of the 15km test. "We had a few guys in trouble really early on and were down to the bare five men pretty soon into the stage," he said.
Roche's cousin Dan Martin will ride the Fleche-Wallone Classic in Belgium today.
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LIMERICK striker Joel Coustrain scored a hat-trick as the Irish U-16 'B' squad beat Belgium 3-1 in Brussels last night.
The Corbally United teen, set to join Sheffield United in July, had the Irish two up inside 10 minutes and added another after the break.
It was a different story in the 'A' game between the nations, with Belgium running out 5-0 winners over John Morling's side. The countries meet again at 'A' and 'B' level tomorrow.
Former marathon world record holder Haile Gebrselassie has given up on his dream of competing in London 2012.
The Ethiopian, who turns 39 today, was a two-time Olympic 10,000m champion before switching to the 26-mile distance in 2004, but he's been unable to win a place in Ethiopia's Olympic marathon team.
"Many Ethiopian athletes run 2:04 and Haile cannot run that any more," said his manager Jos Hermans.