BELFAST, Northern Ireland - Canadian Svein Tuft powered Orica Green-Edge to victory in the team time trial in Belfast in the opening stage of the Giro dItalia on Friday, taking the overall leaders pink jersey on his 37th birthday. . Orica, which was the overwhelming stage favourite, clocked a time of 24 minutes, 42 seconds along the 21.7-kilometre course, which was lined by more than 140,000 fans. The Australian team benefited from starting second and avoiding most of the rain that fell later. "What an amazing day, I never in my life would have imagined something like this," said Tuft, a native of Langley, B.C. "Im so proud of my team and I just cant thank them enough for that. They gave me the gift, it was really a birthday present. This team is really selfless that way. I feel really fortunate to be given that gift on my birthday." Omega Pharma-QuickStep finished second, five seconds behind Orica, beating third-place BMC by just two seconds. Cadel Evans looked strong for BMC and is one of the favourites after last years third-place finish. With defending champion Vincenzo Nibali not competing, Tour de France runner-up Nairo Quintana is another of the race favourites and his Movistar team finished eighth, 55 seconds behind Orica. One of his rivals, Joaquim Rodriguez, had a poor start as his Katusha team struggled throughout and only finished 19th. Rodriguez is 1 minute, 33 seconds behind Tuft and 38 seconds behind Quintana. While it has become a tradition for the first Giro stage to be held outside Italy, this is the first time that the Grande Partenza — or the Big Start — took place outside mainland Europe. Despite the wind and rain, it was a festive atmosphere in the Northern Irish city, with large crowds lining the route and cheering the riders on. However, Irish rider Dan Martin crashed after just 15 minutes, leaving him with a suspected broken collarbone. Martin caused the crash when he caught his wheel on a drain cover and went down strongly on his right arm, bringing down several of his Garmin-Sharp teammates. The four cyclists who were able to continue had to wait for teammate Fabian Wegmann — who had been dropped early on — to catch up with them, as rules stipulate a team has to finish with at least five riders for its time to count. Garmin eventually finished last, 3:26 behind Orica. That means Ryder Hesjedals chances of repeating his 2012 Giro success are all but over. "Obviously there was a crash, and there was only four of us that stayed ahead," said Victoria native Hesjedal. "It was right before a corner and you hear something had happened, we were already through the corner, looked back and there was nobody there. "Obviously it was pretty scary because you dont know what the hell is going on. I dont know what happened, it was basically a nightmare." Belfast is also the start and finish point for Saturdays 218-kilometre leg, which takes in picturesque rock formation, the Giants Causeway along its coastal route. The Giro ends in Trieste on June 1. . So it was understandable if he was a little shaky early in his return to the Texas Rangers rotation. He spent most of the outing searching for his best stuff, but still managed to shut down the struggling Minnesota Twins offence. .9 million deal Thursday. The 25-year McGinn had 19 goals and 19 assists in 79 games last season in helping the Avalanche tie a franchise record with 52 wins.On July 24, 2014, MLS expansion team New York City FC unveiled Frank Lampard as the club’s latest star player, following on from the signing of Spanish striker David Villa. At the time of the announcement, the club and the league went to great lengths to laud the arrival of Lampard as a sign that NYCFC meant business when it came to building their inaugural squad. In their press release, NYCFC stated that Lampard “has signed a two-year contract which starts August 1st (2014), while the player was quoted as saying this: “I am really excited about joining New York City FC and helping to play a real part in building something special in one of the sporting capitals of the world” and “It is a privilege to be able to help make history here in New York City - I just can’t wait to get started and be part of it.” Just two weeks later, the club announced that Lampard would be joining Manchester City – owned by the same group as NYCFC - in England ahead of his debut season in MLS. In that press release, Lampard was quoted as saying this: “Joining up with Manchester City is a fantastic opportunity for me to continue to train and play at the top level and make sure I am in top condition for New York City.” The assumption was that Lampard would be returning to New York at the end of 2014 in order to fully participate in NYCFC’s preseason training camp in the lead up to their first game in MLS. Since joining Manchester City, however, Lampard has made a real impact at the Premier League club – much more so than many would have expected. While he has rarely played a full 90-minute game for City, he has carved out a niche at the club as an impact player who can be relied upon to score goals and swing games in City’s favour when they need a push late on or to solidify the midfield when they need to manage a lead to the final whistle. Lampard’s spell at City has gone so well that City boss Manuel Pellegrini felt the need to extend Lampard’s stay at the club until the end of the Premier League season. There are conflicting reports about how it is even possible for that stay to be extended, as well as the terms under which Lampard initially joined Manchester City. City’s own press release stated the following: “Manchester City can confirm that it has extended Frank Lampard’s contract up to the end of Manchester City’s season, enabling his continued participation in both domestic and European campaigns.” While this may just be a case of the club making a poor choice in wording, there is a big difference between a “contract” and a “loan” in football. A contract implies ownership of a player; a loan implies an agreement between two clubs, whereby the player returns to the club that owns his playing rights at the end of the specified term of the loan. While it was originally reported that Lampard had joined City on loan back in August – as he would have had to do, since it was announced that Lampard’s NYCFC contract started on August 1 – a report from Sports Illustrated journalist Grant Wahl confirmed that this was not the case. According to Wahl’s report, MLS contends “Lampard entered into an agreement with the City Football Group to play under an MLS contract for 2015 and ’16 and to play for Man City until the end of 2014 under a Man City contract. Now that Lampard’s Man City contract has been extended to the end of this season, he will join NYCFC in July and play under an MLS contract.” The entire saga flies in the face of comments made by MLS Commissioner Don Garber in his state of the league address back in December, where he spoke about the league’s perceived lack of transparency. . “We recognize that things aren’t as easy for people to understand as they need to be, explained Garber. We look at the Jermaine Jones situation. We had a mechanism, the only mechanism that we could have put in place, to have Jermaine Jones signed in MLS. There was no other way to do it based on the rules that we have, but the public doesn’t understand our rules and most of the media don’t either. As I did say in 2014, transparency is a priority. Transparency is a big priority in 2015. If Garber is serious about transparency being a priority for the league, then situations like Lampard’s – let alone the “blind draw” that saw US international Jones land in New England - simply cannot be allowed to happen. There is a reason that “the public doesn’t understand our rules and most of the media don’t either” as Garber put it – the league’s rules continue to change. While a single-entity league like MLS is certainly unique in the world of football, it isn’t as difficult to understand as some suggest. If the league wants its fans and media to understand its rules, then MLS needs to start by documenting all of the league rules on the league’s website so that fans and media alike can dissect them. MLS fans are passionate, dedicated supporters and they are being robbed of the chance to invest more of their emotional energy into their teams because the league’s rules – particularly the ones regarding player acquisitions - are unclear, unknown or changing on the fly. Consider allocation money, as an example. Allocation money and how it relates to the league’s salary cap isn’t as complicated as nuclear physics - anyone with even a basic understanding of mathematics can add up a team’s salary expenditures and measure that against the salary cap. What better way to create debate and discussion amongst supporters than to have them quibble over the valuation of a signing or trade? When a team trades a player within the league in exchange for allocation money, fans and media alike should have the opportunity to evaluate that trade based on the amount of allocation money exchanged. The fact that the MLS Players Union publishes the MLS player salaries is an added bonus; it gives fans more information with which to assess the performance and value of players. Opponents will contend that transfer fees are rarely disclosed when a player is bought, sold or traded in the world of football. While this is true, that information almost always makes it into the public forum, usually through an intermediary such as a player agent or reporter. There are positives for both clubs in doing this. The selling club can show its supporters that it is receiving value in exchange for selling one of its star players, while the buying club can show its fans that it is committed to achieving success and is willing to spend the money needed to do so. Fans can judge whether or not their club is providing its fans with an entertaining product given its investment in playing personnel, as well as assess the competency of their club’s management team. It’s also important to consider that MLS is a unique league – something that league executives are quick to point out – and as such, might require a different approach to informing its supporters of how its players move from team to team. One thing is certain, though: keeping fans in the dark will not help MLS grow. If anything, it will drive passionate fans of the beautiful game away from the league, frustrated by the league’s hesitancy to tell fans what is really going on. ' ' '