Favourite Orica-GreenEdge goes off early in evening TTT
This year's Giro d'Italia kicks off with an evening time trial around the centre of Belfast, with teams in action between 5:50pm and 8:00pm local time.
The 22 teams will cover a urban route of 21.7km that starts in the Titanic museum and ends in Donegall Square.
The first half of the route is straight and fast on the Newtownwards Road, with the half-way point in the shadow of Stormont Castle. The riders face a spectacular and fast descent and rise up to the Castle before a loop in the gardens takes them down and back onto the Newtownwards Road where they will cross paths with other teams in action.
The final part of the route includes a series of turns in the city centre, where it will be vital for teams to stay together and accelerate out of the corners. A last right turn leads into Donegall Square, with each time taken on the fifth rider to cross the finish line.
The first rider to finish of the fastest team will pull on the first race leader's pink jersey.
The teams start at five minute intervals, with the Colombia team first off at 5:50pm local time. Big favourite for victory Orica-GreenEdge also has an early start at 5:55pm, while Neri Sottoli is the last team to start at 7:35pm local time.
There will be full live coverage of all the action here on Cyclingnews.
City-centre traffic meant that riding the course of the opening team time trial of the Giro d’Italia was off the cards ahead of Friday morning’s designated practice session on closed roads, but having driven the 21.7km route on arrival in Belfast, BMC manager Valerio Piva believes the favourites for overall victory ought to finish within half a minute of one another.
Although intermittent showers are forecast through the early part of the day in Belfast, the roads are expected to be dry come the start of the team time trial at 5.50pm local time. Cadel Evans and BMC set out at 7.20pm and Piva expects them to ride in more or less equivalent conditions to their rivals on the road to Stormont Castle and back.
“It’s hard to say, but if everybody has the same conditions then I’d say that the big favourites’ teams will finish within 30 or 35 seconds of one another,” Piva told Cyclingnews. “More or less all of the teams with a contender for the overall have a team set up to do well in this test, and I don’t see any real super team made up purely of specialists for the team time trial.”
Piva is in his first season as a directeur sportif at BMC and has enjoyed particular success in Giro team time trials with each of his previous two teams. He was in the team car when HTC-Highroad claimed victory in a similar test on the opening day in Turin in 2011. A year later, he guided an unheralded Katusha team to second place in the Verona time trial, making an unexpected gain for Joaquim Rodriguez.
“Having one super cronoman and then some weaker riders is not an advantage in this discipline. You need a well balanced team, a team that stays united and tries to finish together,” Piva said. “Concentration really comes into play, and the preparation and the...
Tinkoff-Saxo pro to use Italian race to find form for Tour
Two weeks after he received the news that he was to get no further sanction after testing positive for clenbuterol at the 2013 Japan Cup, this Friday Michael Rogers will roll down a start ramp in Belfast as part of his team's Giro d’Italia squad.
After a first third of the season in which a provisional suspension kept him out of racing, Rogers (Tinkoff-Saxo) first pinned on a race number in 2014 at Liege-Bastogne-Liege, “the hardest one-day Classic on the calendar,” the 34-year-old points out with a wry grin.
But as he tells Cyclingnews, to be in 100 percent top condition for the Tour de France, where he wants to be once again riding for Alberto Contador as the Spaniard battles for the overall win, hard racing is exactly what he needs to be able to find top form.
“I did 220 kilometres of Liege, died a thousand deaths on La Redoute, but that was the decision we took.” In the Giro, “I’d like to focus on getting through the first part, and keep a little bit in the tank to give me the ability to work hard in the last half, which is where I really need to work for the Tour.”
It’s clear that coming to a Grand Tour with just one day’s racing in 2014, and with his last race the ill-fated Japan Cup last October, is hardly ideal. But the Tinkoff-Saxo rider says he is mentalised to get all the way through to Trieste. “I’d like to make it there, I just need to get that fatigue from racing situations right up high.”
“I just need racing days, really. I’ve done a lot of training, haven’t missed a day there, but the racing condition isn’t really there yet.”
Dating back to 1909 the Giro d’Italia is a race steeped in history and prestige. Since its inaugural edition it has become one of the most iconic events in cycling and provided some of the most gripping rivalries and racing in the history of cycling: from Coppi and Bartali in the forties and fifties, Saroni and Moser in the seventies and eighties, the late Marco Pantani and Pavel Tonkov in the nineties, to more recent duels between the likes of Alberto Contador, Cadel Evans and Ivan Basso.
The Giro d'Italia isn’t just about the riders who pass through time and leave their mark on the race. It is far more than that, encapsulating a nation and it’s love for a sporting event with a rich history that runs through the tapestry of a people.
This stunning InCycle video charts the history of the Giro d’Italia: it’s roots and it’s passion, with historical race footage from the race. It’s the perfect way to whet your appetite on the eve of the race.
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After helping Vincenzo Nibali to overall victory in his debut Giro d'Italia 12 months ago, Fabio Aru lines up in Belfast with a greater weight of expectation on his shoulders, but the young Sardinian is guarded about quite how far he can go in this year's race.
In the 1990s, Italian journalist Gianni Mura handed Gianni Bugno the nickname of "Vedremo" - "We'll see" - due to his reluctance to make any bold declarations on the eve of races, and Aru was similarly reticent when asked about his prospects at the team presentation on Thursday evening.
With Nibali choosing to focus exclusively on the Tour de France this season, new signing Michele Scarponi has been handed the reins of leadership at Astana's Giro team, but Aru will also be allowed a degree of freedom over the three weeks.
"The leader will be Scarponi and I'll try to stay close to him. After that, we'll see what I'm able to do," Aru told Cyclingnews. "I'd like to be able to grow and build on what I did last year. This is my second Giro and I want to test myself and see how far I can go."
Aru entered the professional ranks in 2013 after an amateur career that included victory at the Giro della Valle d'Aosta and he was thrust straight into Astana's line-up for the Giro. Although he suffered from dysentery early in the race, he recovered sufficiently to finish fifth on the final summit finish in the snow at Tre Cime di Lavaredo after working in the service of Nibali at the base of the climb.
"I was a bit ill early on but we were riding to win the pink jersey with Vincenzo, and I hung in there," Aru said. "Certainly it was a bit of a surprise to feel so good at the very end of the race but I still don't know what my limits are.
The USA's Brent Bookwalter (BMC) took a tumble during training in Belfast, just a few hours before he is due to line-up in the opening team time trial stage of the Giro d'Italia.
The 22 teams in this year's Giro d'Italia were allowed to study the route of the 21.7km on closed roads. The BMC team had just completed a first lap of the course and was fortunately riding slowly when Bookwalter hit a traffic cone.
He went down hard but explained that apart from some pain in his knee, he was uninjured.
"It was between our first and second laps out," he explained.
"We were riding back to the start and fortunately we were going at slow speed all together and assessing and discussing our first lap. The rider in front of me shielded my vision from an orange cone and I ran straight into it. Fortunately I was going slow and had a lot clothes on, so that absorbed most of the damage. My knee is a little sore but I think I'll be okay to get out there and after it this afternoon."
Bookwalter is one of just two US riders in this year's Giro d'Italia. He is part of a strong BMC team that is expected to play a key role in helping Cadel Evans target overall victory.
Also in the BMC squad are Yannick Eijssen, Evans, Ben Hermans, Steve Morabito, Daniel Oss, Manuel Quinziato, Samuel Sánchez and Danilo Wyss.
Stevens wins Pan-Am title, Tour of California races streaming live
The momentum for women's cycling continues to build with events across North America raising the level for the sport. The organisers of the Tour of Utah have added an event for women, Colavita has stepped in to make the Tour of Somerville eligible for National Criterium Calendar status for the women, BC Superweek announced equal prize money for the genders, and the Tour of California will stream its two women's events, a circuit race in Sacramento and the Folsom time trial, live on its Tour Tracker.
In other women's race news, Evelyn Stevens won the Pan-Am time trial title in Puebla, Mexico, and fellow American Megan Guarnier took bronze.
Utah adds circuit race
For the first time in the history of the Tour of Utah, the women will take to the stage with a circuit race at the Miller Motorsports Park in Tooele, Utah. The venue serves as the finish for the men's stage 3.
The Women's Edition will utilize a 2.2-mile section of the course for a 15-lap circuit race. The women will race at 12:30pm local time, and finish an hour before the men are expected to arrive.
The Tour of Utah is currently accepting requests for entry from professional teams, domestic elite and established teams, and qualified riders who seek to join a composite team. Interested teams and individuals should visit www.tourofutah.com to complete the request form. Requests for invitation close on Friday, June 6, 2014. Teams will be announced starting June 16.
Colavita helps Somerville join NCC
The Tour of Somerville's Mildred Kugler Women's Open has not been a part of the National Criterium Calendar, or the National Racing Calendar before the road and criterium events were separated, since 2010, but the support of Colavita has changed that this year.
Colavita's sponsorship enabled the women's pro race to qualify for the NCC status, thanks to John Profaci, a...