Preview: Giro d'Italia opening time trial in Apeldoorn

Flat, fast, and with only a few technical sections, the Giro d'Italia's opening time trial in Apeldoorn will be anything but favourable towards the out-and-out climbers who are contending for overall victory in Turin in three weeks time.

The opening stage begins inside the velodrome in Apeldoorn's sports stadium, something riders in the Giro peloton like Leigh Howard (IAM Cycling), Michael Hepburn (Orica-GreenEdge), and Jack Bobridge (Trek-Segafredo) - the former Australian Omnium and Madison gold medallist and the latter two Team pursuit gold medallists in the World Track Championships held there in 2011 - will surely appreciate, if only for the good memories.

As much as track specialist Bradley Wiggins shone in the 2010 Giro prologue in Amsterdam, a rider with something of an endurance track past could well shine again on this equally flat 9.8 kilometre course in Apeldoorn.

Even sprinter Marcel Kittel (Etixx-QuickStep) is looking at the prologue course as an opportunity, describing the course as "super fast" and saying he'll "give it everything" on Friday to wear the first maglia rosa.

Having left the velodrome, the riders will wind their way around the front of the velodrome and make their way towards the main road via a scrappy-looking cycle path. There's a tight, narrow turn which will ensure riders will have to wait before they ramp their way up to full speed.

The remainder of the course - which Cyclingnews checked out in its entirety on Thursday - runs entirely through the large town of Apeldoorn. Hills just like in most of the Netherlands, are notable by their absence, with a whopping nine metre gain in altitude throughout.

Once off the bike path, a dip under a railway bridge takes the course onto the first of several straightaways that predominate in the course. It then runs for over two kilometres on a two-lane road between low residential buildings, with only the occasional gentle speed bump and pedestrian crossing to stop riders building up a maximum pace.

The second of seven right-angled bends with 7. 5 kilometres to go takes the riders onto slightly narrower roads with poorer asphalting, running on a backroad-cum-cycle path alongside the Kanal Noord Canal. These two kilometres are the one point in the course where the wind, mostly blocked out by the buildings, could cause some damage.

Having crossed the canal, the course dives left into another residential area, with the half-way point and intermediate check in the midst of some immensely tall cedar trees. At this point, with the road notably narrower as it winds past back gardens and a series of tricky corners, including one difficult sharp right hand bend, the route is probably at its most technically challenging.

However, with 3.5 kilometres to go, the route broadens out again, and for the last third of the course, barring two easily negotiable right hand bends, the power riders will be at an advantage again. There are no cobbled sections at all to trouble the peloton on the entire course, and with dry weather forecast, the likelihood of crashes on greasy urban roads is fortunately lowered.

There will likely be huge crowds to watch what will probably be a very fast time trial course. Rather like in Utrecht for the Tour start, grandstands are being erected along the course, pink bunting and pink-painted bicycles can be seen almost everywhere and even the trees the final avenue have been wrapped in pink. And just like in the Tour, too, Didi 'the Devil' Senftt, the bike inventor from nearby Germany who likes to dress up in devil costumes, was already present, pedalling gently along part of the course.

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