The final step in the build-up to the 99th Giro d’Italia came on Thursday evening as crowds gathered in Apeldoorn to welcome riders at the teams presentation.
Fully kitted out, the riders rode, team-by-team, out of the City Hall building and into the Market Square, completing a lap of a pink-carpeted runway before taking to the stage.
Behind the scenes, before venturing out, the riders passed through a media zone, where Cyclingnews was on hand to grab a word with some of the protagonists of the next three weeks.
Flick through the gallery above for all the best images from the event, and scroll below for the riders’ quotes. For all our Giro d’Italia build-up coverage, click here.
Alejandro Valverde (Movistar)
I’m here with a great team behind me and we’re really up for trying to win the Giro.
I feel good. My preparation has been perfect. I’m here with a fresh head, with drive, and with form. So now I just need luck to add to that.
We’ll have to be attentive, ride at the front, because we know how the roads are here in Holland - narrow, with road furniture, and also wind, so we’ll have to be up there.
Fabian Cancellara (Trek-Segafredo)
[The TT course] was actually perfect for me. I was preparing well, had good feelings, good confidence, but I’m looking like an outsider now [after falling ill]. I will do my best and I will not give up.
I might go for a walk in the morning but the rest will just be focusing on those 9.8 kilometres. If I have energy left, good, if not, we will see. The first rule is the health then second is what I was aiming for. First thing, my health is coming back and I can be at the start line. If I had a fever again today I wouldn’t be here.
Tom Dumoulin (Giant-Alpecin)
I’m really excited. It’s my home country – which I love – and a time trial – which I love – so I’m very excited.
Rafal Majka (Tinkoff)
I like the Giro, I have finished in the top 10 two times and now it’s a bit of a bigger step: top 3. I feel good, and we wait for the mountains. For sure I’m here to win a stage and also get in the top 3. There are a lot of good riders, the harder the race the better, and we’ll also need to have good luck.
Esteban Chaves (Orica-GreenEdge)
I’m calm, happy. We have the chance to get good results in Holland, also we have little wind which is an advantage for those of us who don’t weigh very much. We’re going for two sprint stages with Caleb then we’ll think about the GC for me.
Steven Kruisjkwijk (LottoNL-Jumbo)
My goal is to improve on last year’s result [7th overall]. Last year I lost time in the first week, so this time I need to concentrate on not losing any time in the first two weeks and put myself in a good position for the final week and the mountains.
Nicolas Roche (Team Sky)
When you come here with a team that has to ride for a top leader for GC, it’s all about seizing opportunities when they come. When it comes to the briefing and they say ‘alright Nico maybe today you can go in the breakaway,’ I’ll try to give it my best shot.
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