Remco Evenepoel won the Giro d'Italia opening stage time-trial to take the race lead ©Getty Images

Remco Evenepoel underlined his status as a favourite for the Giro d’Italia title by winning the stage one time-trial in impressive fashion.

The 23-year-old Belgian, a climbing specialist, showed he was no slouch on the flat as he completed the first of three scheduled time trials - a 19.6 kilometres run from Fossacesia Marina to Ortona - in a time of 21mins 18secs.

That left the Soudal-Quick Step rider 22 seconds clear of his nearest challenger, Italy’s Filippo Ganna, and 29 seconds ahead of third-placed Joao Almeida of Portugal.

Slovenia’s Primož Roglič, another strongly fancied rider in the field, had to settle for sixth place at 43 seconds adrift.

It was a hugely encouraging start for Evenepoel, who will have seven summit finishes to showcase his expertise in the course of cycling's first Grand Tour of the year.

"It's the best result we can get for a first day," said the first holder of the Maglia Rosa leader’s jersey.

Speaking to Eurosport, he added: "Super happy.

"We wanted to go as fast as possible and I think we went fast enough today.

"I felt from the start that I had a good rhythm, always the same gear and the same cadence."

Britain's Ineos Grenadiers duo Tao Geoghegan Hart and Geraint Thomas were fourth and ninth respectively.

Geoghegan Hart - who won the Giro in 2020 - was the first rider to finish inside 22 minutes but quickly saw his lead disappear.

Tomorrow’s stage two covers 201km from Teramo to San Salvo.