Briton Alex Dowsett took the honours ahead of compatriot and former teammate Bradley Wiggins in the Giro d'Italia eighth stage time trial on Saturday with Italian Vincenzo Nibali inheriting the leader's pink jersey.

This 54.8 kilometre race against the clock was seen as an ideal opportunity for Wiggins, the Olympic time trial gold medallist, to make up time after a tough opening week for the Team Sky leader.

But Wiggins, who hit the deck on a rain-drenched hairpin on Friday, had another setback when his front tyre punctured 17 minutes into his run, delaying him by a stage-winning 20sec as he changed bikes.

That left him filling second, crossing the line 10 seconds adrift of Dowsett (Movistar) to leave him 1min 16sec off the new leader Nibali, who took fourth in the stage.

Nibali lead

In the overall standings, Sicilian Nibali leads by 29sec from Cadel Evans, with Dutch rider Robert Gesink in third at 1:15 and Wiggins, who finished strongly on the climb up to Saltara, in fourth.

Nibali was surprised to find himself as the new leader, saying: "I wasn't expecting to be wearing the pink jersey today. I worked a lot with this in mind over the winter.

"Now we will go about defending the pink jersey, I'm feeling comfortable."

Dowsett, 24, who switched to Movistar this year after two seasons with Team Sky, is the British time trial champion.

The big losers of the day were overnight leader Benat Intxausti, who plummeted down the standings to 14th, over three and a half minutes adrift, and Ryder Hesjedel of Canada.

Last year's winner started the day placed third, at 8sec, overall, but slipped to sixth, 2:05 behind Nibali at the end of his run.

Sunday's ninth stage is a 170km run from Sansepolcro to Florence, which hosts the world road championships in September.

Source: AFP