Rain dampens fans' access to festivities
The 198 riders on the Giro d'Italia start list completed the last act of the build-up to the race on Friday afternoon, gathering at the Beurs Van Berlage theatre for the official team presentation.
Team presentations are usually held outside but the race organisers must have kept a close eye on the wet and cold weather in Amsterdam and moved the ceremony inside the Beurs van Berlage. Without open access to the public, the spacious conference facility was not filled to capacity. So far the bad weather has put a dampener on the Giro start in the Dutch capital but the forecast is for better weather on Saturday and Sunday.
However that did not stop the riders looking worryingly at the sky as they entered the theatre, aware that rain on the twisting, technical time trial course, on the slick city centre roads of Amsterdam, could be treacherous.
The teams were presented by Dutch model Yolanthe Cabau and Italian race speaker Barbara Pedrotti, with a model wearing each of the team's jersey as they went on stage. Each team captain showed off the bike the riders would be using during the Giro and said a few words. Naturally the Rabobank team got the biggest cheer, even without 2009 Giro winner Denis Menchov or star sprinter Oscar Freire in their line-up.
Before going on stage to be presented to the crowd, the riders gathered in a side room away from the spot light. It was a chance for a last hello to their friends in the peloton, final pre-race media interviews and some improvised team photographs. Each of the 22 teams will start the Giro with nine riders. Who knows how many will make it to the finish in Verona on May 30?
Bradley Wiggins and his Team Sky teammates were one of the first to arrive. Wiggins was sporting a short haircut and looked lean but relaxed, despite being widely tipped as the favourite for Saturday's time trial.
Andrei Greipel (HTC-Columbia) admitted he had suffered with some stomach problems during Thursday night, but said he is recovering well and will definitely be on the start ramp for the time trial. With 2009 Giro winner Denis Menchov not riding this year, Greipel will be last rider off.
Michele Scarponi (Androni Giocattoli) posed with this year's maglia rosa, while Damiano Cunego and Gilberto Simoni seemed happy to be back on the same team after putting their differences behind them.
Alexandre Vinokourov posed with his Astana teammates, while the big three overall favourites Cadel Evans (BMC), Ivan Basso (Liquigas-Doimo) and Carlos Sastre (Cervelo TestTeam) were the last teams to going on stage. All three looked relaxed and confident on stage.
We will find out just how good they really are and who will pull on the maglia rosa in Amsterdam on Saturday afternoon.
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