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The 2010 Giro begins with a short and high-speed time trial through the heart of one of the world's most famously bike-loving cities. Linking two of Amsterdam's most renowned attractions, the Rijksmuseum and the city's Olympic stadium, this course is more of a flat-out drag strip than a technical tester. That should mean that the specialists will stand out, but there's unlikely to be big gaps between the main contenders, who will want to save most of what they've got for the frightening final week.
With the emphasis for the Dutch teams very much on making an impact on home soil, Rabobank have just the rider to do so in Lars Boom. A former world cyclo-cross champion who announced himself on the road scene with a Vuelta stage victory last year, Boom convincingly won the prologue at Paris-Nice in March on a course of the same length but with more climbing than this.
This is the ninth time that the Giro has started on foreign soil. The first was in San Marino in 1965, when the 48th corsa rosa began on soil that wasn't Italian but still surrounded by it. Monte Carlo got the honour the year after.
In 1973, to mark the expansion of the European Community, Giro boss Vincenzo Torriani had what was described by one of his successors as "the reckless idea" to start the race in the Belgian town of Verviers. The route moved on through Germany, Luxembourg and France. Travel arrangements weren't so complicated in 1974 when the Giro set off from the Vatican City.
Foreign starts fell out of vogue for the next two decades until the Giro bosses took the race to Athens in 1996 and Nice in '98. In 2002, the Giro started in Holland for the first time, marking the introduction of the euro.
"On paper, stage one is a typical city-centre course. This is a bit short for me but perfect for Wiggins or, if he rides, Cancellara. Some say such a short TT is a good litmus test of even the overall contenders' form. It may be, but a bad result may also just mean someone's had a bad day."
Vertical climb: 10m
Highest point: 8m
Category: Individual Time Trial