The Italian outfit, starting second-last, kept a consistent rhythm on the pictoresque, winding route from Caprera to La Maddalena, and stopped the clock on 33'38", shaving a full 13 seconds off the time of the much-fancied Astana team.
Enrico Gasparotto crossed the line first for Liquigas, and despite a thorough ear-bashing from team leader Danilo di Luca for doing so, will be the proud wearer of the treasured maglia rosa for Sunday's first stage from Tempio Pausania to Bosa.
The CSC team, winners of the team time-trial in the fifth stage of the Giro last year, set the early pace. With a team containing David Zabriskie, the American time-trial champion, Michael Blaudzun, his Norwegian equivalent, and the world time-trial champion Fabian Cancellara, they powered through the 26 kilometres in 34'08".
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The revolutionised T-Mobile team, runners-up in this stage twelve months ago, were conspicuous in their absence at the top of the standings, and came through in a poor 16th position.
CSC's time looked more impressive as the Saunier Duval and Lampre teams recorded times of 35'03" and 34'17" respectively, though the Danish team's time of was bettered by 12 seconds by the Astana team, who were led by perhaps the favourite for overall victory, Paolo Savoldelli. The tall Italian threw caution to the wind in the closing stages, flinging his bike around the twisty roads ahead of the finish, and crossed the line in an impressive 33'51".
The Discovery Channel looked set to run that time close, despite losing Danish time-trial champion Brian Vandborg to a mechanical failure just after the midway point. They approached the finish area with menacing speed, though paid the price for losing four of their nine riders early on, when team leader Yaroslav Popovych slipped on a tight right turn. His four team-mates could do no more than look back in disbelief as the Ukrainian picked himself up and stopped the clock at 34'27", an ultimately disappointing fifth-place.
Liquigas showed the Americans the way though, and after clocking only the 3rd fastest time through the first split at eight kilometres, upped their tempo through the second half of the race. Their succes gives team leader Danilo di Luca the best possible springboard for a shot at improving upon his fourth place at the Giro two years ago, and claiming a place on the podium.
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