Primoz Roglic's (Lotto NL-Jumbo) 2/10ths of a second loss to Tom Dumoulin (Giant-Alpecin) on stage one counted for nothing after an impressive victory in the rain marred 40.5km Chianti time trial.
Roglic's time of 51 minutes and 45 seconds was ten clear of nearest rival Matthias Brandle (IAM).
The Slovenian ex ski jumper said he had zero motivation after losing his computer and bottle 10kms into the course.
"But I was feeling fantastic uphill so I just pushed and pushed for the fun of it," Roglic said.
"I was lucky at the end because I only felt a drop or two while the riders after me got the pouring rain. This is strange, very strange."
Race leader Gianluca Brambilla stopped the clock at 53 minutes and 50 seconds, one minute and 20 seconds behind team-mate Bob Jungels but one important second ahead in the overall classification.
"Yesterday I expended a lot of of energy in the breakaway. I attacked and I went full gas all day. It was the same today: alone again, full gas again and nothing to lose. I kept the maglia rosa. Until now everything has gone well in the Giro. It's an amazing feeling."
The overall contenders
Ilnur Zakarin (Katusha) was in hot form and was touted as a potential pink jersey wearer by day's end as he sat second overall after stage 8, but he overcooked a corner out on course and fell again on the final bend. He finished three minutes 51 seconds behind Roglic and lost a minute and a half to his major rivals. He now lies in 11th.
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The big winner general classification wise was Mikel Landa (Sky). An average time trialist at best, Landa limited his losses to remain eighth, his move to Sky and off-season work paying dividends.
Evergreen professionals Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) and Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) performed as expected, Nibali still fifth, with Valverde untroubled despite falling back to sixth.