Hello and welcome to our countdown to the Giro d'Italia.
Good morning and welcome to our Giro d'Italia pre-race coverage. We're here in Italy with the first grand tour of the season just a day away and a volley of press conferences, interviews, and pre-race predictions all coming your way. Forget the BBC analysis of the General Election, this is the place to be.
Coming up in the next few minutes we have an exclusive interview with Richie Porte, who is about to join us just before his final training ride ahead of the race. The Australian comes into the Giro in fine form, and number of wins under his belt. He'll be here to talk about the race, his team, Contador, and what worries him most about the race. That's coming right up.
And in fact we can welcome Richie into the studio/CN blimb right now. Richie, you're about to head out on your final ride with the team ahead of tomorrow's TTT, so how's the form coming into the race?
CN: And how much say and influence have you had when it comes to building the team and picking the riders that are around you? Have you put your hand up and picked guys specifically.
CN: And in terms of the TTT tomorrow is it a case of trying to lay down an important marker in the GC or is it case of getting through what could be potentially dangerous stage unscathed?
CN: Have you talked about tomorrow’s scenarios. For example Team Sky have done well here in the past, and won the TTT. If that were to happen, and there are other strong squads here to, but if it does happen, what would be your response?
CN: One last question before you shoot for your ride. What for you is the biggest hurdle or concern in this year’s race? Is it one specific rider or is the element of going into the unknown when it comes to leading a team into a third week of a grand tour?
CN: Well thanks for joining us this morning and best of luck to you and the rest of the peloton.
Richie Porte: Thanks for having me.
Well you've heard what Team Sky's Richie Porte has to say. Now tell us what you think. You can get in touch via Twitter at twitter.com/dnlbenson and tell us who you're tipping for this year's race.
And in a few minutes we'll be joined by Orica GreenEdge's Matt White. He's currently bogged down in team meetings but he should be clear of those soon.
Away from the GC battle for just a split second and we've also picked out five key sprinters to watch in this year's race. Here's Sadhbh O'Shea and her run-down on the men to watch when the race is flat....
"I think I’m a good substitution for Bjarne Riis"
Who could those words be from, I wonder. That's right, it's Oleg Tinkov, owner of the Tinkoff Saxo team. In his latest blog for CN he talks about why he fired Riis, why Contador can win the Giro and what Sagan needs to do in order to start winning again. You can find the Tinkov's piece right here.
One of the final rosters for the race came in last night with Cannondale Garmin announcing their squad. They'll line up behind former winner Ryder Hesjedal.
Janier Acevedo, Nathan Brown, Andre Cardoso, Davide Formolo, Ryder Hesjedal, Alan Marangoni, Tom-Jelte Slagter and Davide Villella.
With the Giro d’Italia start just days away inCycle track down three of the main podium contenders in Alberto Contador (Tinkoff Saxo), Rigoberto Uran (Etixx QuickStep) and Richie Porte (Team Sky). You can watch the video, right here.
CN: And Matt White has just entered the CN studio and will be joining us for the next few minutes. Welcome, Matt.
CN: You head into the TTT tomorrow has favourites and the defending champions. What do you make of the course?
CN: And how is the team shaping up, because you go in there as defending champions but you've a very different team from last year. I think only four riders are the same this time around...
CN: Is it a stronger team than last year?
CN: And looking further ahead, which stages are you looking at for Matthews?
CN: We know that Matthews is flying at the moment but what about Gerrans given his difficult start to the season?
CN: What can you say about Esteban Chaves and his targets for the race? Do you think he can make crack at the top ten?
CN: Thanks for joining us this afternoon, Matt.
Matt White: Thanks for having me.
Back to the battle for GC and Hinault has come out and stated that Alberto Contador can win the Giro d'Italia and Tour de France double. That story is here.
“It is possible to win Giro and Tour in the same season. It would not be the first. You can perform at your best in the Giro and arrive at the start of the Tour at the maximum. There is sufficient separation between the three Grand Tours as it is configured in today's calendar,” Hinault told Spanish newspaper AS.
He's also gone on record as backing Quintana for the Tour de France so he's hedging his bets somewhat.
Coming up former Tour de France winner Carlos Sastre will be joining us in the studio.
Carlos is just getting comfortable in the studio but before we hear from the former Tour de France winner, here's out overview of tomorrow's TTT from Alasdair Fotheringham, who is at the race for Cyclingnews for the third year in a row.
f you see lots of train-related clichés in Saturday’s reports of stage one of the Giro d’Italia - riders hitting the buffers, so-and-so’s Giro derailed, all aboard for the start of the Giro, etcetera - then you can put the blame at least partly on the route.
Saturday’s 17.6 kilometre team time trial will be held almost entirely on bike paths based on abandoned railway lines running alongside the Ligurian coast, which are part of a bigger 60 kilometre network, known as Cycling Riviera.
CN: Carlos, welcome to CN. Lets start with this year's race and your overall impressions of the course and the contenders.
CN: And who have you marked out for potential victory in this year's race?
CN: With Alberto, what do you make of his aim to win both the Giro and the Tour de France? Do you think that it's possible for a rider to do so?
CN: And these days, are you still riding your bike?
Thanks to Carlos Sastre for joining us today. If you're just joining us you'll find interview from not just Carlos but Richie Porte and Orica GreenEdge's Matt White. This afternoon we'll be live at team press conferences before the teams' presentation at 17:00 CET.
@IAM_Cycling Fri, 8th May 2015 12:17:30
The official race start list is here too.
In news Vinokourov hinted that Nibali and Aru may team-up for the 2016 Tour de France.
The former rider spoke about Aru when the Astana team confirmed the 24 year-old Sardinian had extended his contract with the Kazakhstani team until the end of 2017.
"Fabio is a young and ambitious champion with three exciting Grand Tour stage victories. We are happy and proud to see him in our team colors at the start of the 2015 Giro. We can't wait to see what will happen in the next three weeks in Italy and the next three years around the world," Vinokourov said in a team statement, here.
Androni Giocattoli team manager Gianni Savio has told Cyclingnews his team strategy will reflect a soccer team formation with his nine riders following a 6-1-2 strategy.
“We’ve got six riders who will try to get in the breaks and animate the race, Franco Pellizotti is our play maker and road captain and then hopefully sprinters Oscar Gatto and Davide Appollonio will finish things off and put the ball in the back of the net,” Savio told Cyclingnews.
“Things might change on the hilly stages but we’ve can also vary our model depending on if Pellizotti is well placed overall.”
Savio will one of several directeur sportif and team managers who will share their race analysis and comments on each stage of this year’s Giro d’Italia. Watch out for the comment on the stage report page.
Ahead of the race we have number of preview videos and we start with our look at the five key stages of the race. Barry Ryan and Sadhbh O'Shea have picked through the route and come up with these key days in the race.
Our next installment looks at the top ten contenders in this year's race from Aru to Uran.
Our friends over at InCycle have gone behind the scenes with Cannondale Garmin to talk about TTT riding. The American squad have hit bumpy patch to say the least in recent years when it comes to the discipline and they'll be looking to put that right tomorrow.
@Cyclingnewsfeed Fri, 8th May 2015 12:48:53
The pres conferences have started with Alberto Contador first up. The Spaniard has just one win to his name so far this season but remains the number one favourite for the overall win. He's won this race before, back in 2008.
@inCycleTV Fri, 8th May 2015 13:05:19
Contador has opened up by stating that he will try and attack from the start of the race.
This is one of Contador's first public appearances at a major race since Bjarne Riis departure from the team. He'll no doubt be asked about that, and perhaps Oleg Tinkov's blog that appeared on CN late last night. You can read the piece, here.
And there it comes, Contador says: "Tinkov would like to win the Giro d'Italia, but not more than me."
According to Rasmus Staghøj, who is at the press conference for TV 2 Denmark, one journalist has fallen asleep.
Earlier this week Barry Ryan wrote this excellent piece on Contador and the 2011 Giro d'Italia. Well worth a read.
And to announce that tomorrow Bobby Julich will join us or live coverage during the team time trial. Julich rode for Motorola, Cofidis, and CSC during his career and has worked for CSC, Team Sky, BMC and now Tinkoff Saxo since hanging up his wheels.
Now I'm handing over to Sadhbh O'Shea who will take us through our Giro d'Italia build-up for the next hour or so.
Hello and welcome if you're just joining us this morning, afternoon or evening, depending where you are in the world.
We're now just over 24 hours away until the first team roll off the start ramp tomorrow. That team will be Lampre-Merida, who will start their Giro d'Italia at 15:10 local time on Saturday.
We want to hear your predictions. Tweet us at @cyclingnewsfeed with your thoughts on who will win tomorrow, overall and any other predictions.
@giroditalia Fri, 8th May 2015 14:01:59
The Alberto Contador press conference has just wrapped up, we'll have the news from that very soon. Etixx-QuickStep are next in line on the press conference train. Rigoberto Uran is due to talk in 40 minutes.
Team Sky are also on board today. However, we caught up with Richie Porte ahead of his training ride this morning. Scroll back through our live coverage to see what he had to say.
@matt_troth Fri, 8th May 2015 14:01:12
the riders are not the only ones who've been out on the team time trial course. Our reporter Alasdair Fotheringham did his own and you can read his preview of the opening stage right here.
If last year is anything to go by the team time trial could be the end of some riders' hopes of overall success. However, the crucial stages will come much later in the race. In this video, we've put together five key stages for this year's Giro d'Italia. Don't forget to subscribe to the Cyclingnews Youtube channel while you're there.
While today's press conferences are still ongoing, several teams held theirs yesterday. Fabio Aru, Andre Greipel and Jurgen Van Den Broeck all spoke to the media on Thursday. Click here for the gallery, which we will add to as the day goes on.
@albertocontador Fri, 8th May 2015 14:30:44
While most have been picking the Mortirolo as the defining climb in this year's Giro, including Alberto Contador, former winner Gianni Bugno believes that the first summit finish could do a lot of damage.
Luka Mezgec won the final stage of last year’s Giro d’Italia and he returns this year to lead Giant-Alpecin’s sprint campaign. He is of course looking to add to his tally of Giro wins, here is what he had to say ahead of the race.
“After Catalunya I spent four weeks in full and specific preparation for the Giro, including sleeping in an altitude room and maintaining close contact with our trainer, Adriaan Helmantel,” he explained. “The form is good, so I am excited to start the race. I expect a hard Giro. There are a lot of hilly stages, and those are sometimes harder than mountain stages.
“We have a really strong and balanced team here, so we have several opportunities for good results. My goals are certainly the sprints in the flat stages, and I hope I will be able to repeat last year’s success with a stage win.”
Going briefly back to the brutal Mortirolo climb. We've compiled a gallery looking back at 25 years of the climb, which made it's Giro debut back in 1990. You can view the gallery here.
Alberto Contador had his press conference earlier today. The Spaniard said that his tilt at the Giro-Tour double was inspired by his 2014 Vuelta victory. Read what he had to say here.
Thanks for joining us for our Giro d'Italia countdown. I'm going to hand you back to Daniel Benson for a while. Stick with us as we bring you all the latest from the race build-up.
It's now Uran's time to be put under the spotlight with Contador's press conference done and dusted. Many see the Etixx rider as Contador's biggest challenger having finished second in the last two editions of this race.
Back to Contador for just one moment and the Spaniard provided some interesting insight into why he's taking on this Giro-Tour challenge:
“I went to the Vuelta last September without being in top condition and finally I got a very special win. That has given me the confidence to go for the Giro-Tour double this year.”
@friebos Fri, 8th May 2015 15:13:39
While we wait for more nuggets and gems from the land of Etixx, here's our up to date gallery from events so far from all of the press conferences.
Urán's press conference is currently going on. The Colombian put himself in pink after the first time trial last year, however he's wary of putting too much importance on stage 14.
“I’m not going to win the Giro in the chrono. Too much mountain afterwards to say that," he said.
@TeamSky Fri, 8th May 2015 15:31:51
Like a nightclub, it's one in, one out. Etixx-QuickStep have departed and now it's the turn of Team Sky and Richie Porte.
The team presentation is due to begin in 20 minutes and teams have begun to arrive.
Fabio Aru was among the riders who had their press conference yesterday. The Italian announced that he was extending his contract with Astana until the end of 2017. Read the full story here.
@giroditalia Fri, 8th May 2015 15:40:50
Less than 10 minutes until the team presentation begins but enough time to take a look at our 10 riders to watch video. Don't forget to subscribe to our YouTube channel too.
@friebos Fri, 8th May 2015 15:55:22
One of the big talking points this week, and perhaps for the next couple of months, will be Alberto Contador's attempt at the Giro-Tour double. Bernard Hinault, who achieved it twice, thinks that Contador can do it. Read what he had to say here.
Team Sky's press conference is wrapping up now as the team presentation gets under way. Cyclingnews spoke to Richie Porte this morning. You can scroll through our live coverage to fine the full Q&A but here is a taste of what he said to us this morning.
"I’m really just excited to get the race going. I’m ready and I’m looking forward to the challenge," said Porte.
"I’m coming in with top form but whatever happens. It’s nice to know that I’ve had a really good run into this race."
As we the show begins, why not tweet us with your predictions for the Giro d'Italia on @Cyclingnewsfeed.
@stephenfarrand Fri, 8th May 2015 16:08:01
Chavanel from IAM Cycling is currently on stage and talking his ride in the Classics. The Frenchman says he's in good condition and will target stage wins in the race.
On stage now are Giant Alpecin with Caleb Fairly and Chad Haga coming on stage for team. Neither Kittel or Degenkolb are here this year but in Luka Mezgec the team certainly have an option for the sprint stages throughout the race.
SouthEast in their new kit are next on stage. Alessandro Petacchi is in their ranks and he takes the biggest cheer from the crowd.
Former Giant rider Alexandre Geniez leads FDJ onto the race. The French team don't hang around for too long on stage however. Geniez, though, could certainly feature in the mountain stages in the race.
Savio Androni's team are up next. They come into the stage with Franco Pellizotti and a raft of other riders who will get in breaks and look for stage wins.
@Cyclingnewsfeed Fri, 8th May 2015 16:32:23
@stephenfarrand Fri, 8th May 2015 16:27:31
Italy's Giacomo Nizzolo leads the Trek Factory Racing team onto the stage. The Italian will hunt for wins in the sprints as there's no real GC contender in the team.
IAM Cycling are on stage, Haussler stands out in his national champions kit. The Australian had twins in April but is back on the bike and racing this Grand Tour for the first time since joining the IAM team. There are a few intermediate stages that could well suit him.
@bikeradar Fri, 8th May 2015 16:46:40
There is a brief pause in the teams and the four jerseys for this year's race are being presented to the crowd. As ever, they are the pink jersey of the race leader, the red jersey of the points classification, the blue jersey of the mountains classification and the white jersey of the young rider's classification.
A huge cheer goes up as Alberto Contador and the Tinkoff-Saxo team arrive for the presentation. They will be up on stage soon.
Astana are now entering the casino in San Remo.
Lampre-Merida are now on stage. They've gor Przemyslaw Niemiec for the overall classification while Italians Diego Ulissi and Sacha Modolo will be looking for stage victories.
BMC now make their way on stage, lead by Philippe Gilbert. He had a tough Ardennes week with a heavy crash at Fleche Wallonne.
BMC have put their faith in Damiano Caruso for the general classification, who joined the team this year. They've also got another contender in Darwin Atapuma. Rick Zabel, who is also part of the line-up, is the youngest rider at this year's Giro.
@TrekFactory Fri, 8th May 2015 17:03:06
Katusha are the next team to step onto the stage. Recent Tour de Romandie winner Ilnur Zakarin is riding the race for the first time. What is possible for the young Russian?
Luca Paolini has been pulled forward to talk to the media. He's a former stage winner and a fan favourite. He'll surely be looking to add another stage this year.
Lotto-Soudal are next up. They've got Jurgen Van Den Broeck and André Greipel in their line-up this season. Greipel is targeting a stage victory at the Giro but says that he won't be looking at the road book too much.
Rigoberto Uran has a quick chat with television before he goes to the stage. He names Porte, Contador and Aru as the pre-race favourites and the riders that he'll be keeping an eye on.
Movistar made a quick visit to the podium and now it is the turn of Cannondale-Garmin with former champion Ryder Hesjedal.
André Greipel has already been up on stage. He spoke briefly after stepping off, saying that he's not thinking about the red jersey
“The goal is to win a stage then I can start to think about jerseys," said Greipel. “On paper everybody thinks I’m the fastest. We don’t play chess and everybody is fighting for victory. I will do my best and try to win a stage."
AG2R-La Mondiale take to the stage, led by Domenico Pozzovivo. The Italian finished fifth overall at last year's race.
Etixx-QuickStep are up on the stage. Not only do they have Rigoberto Uran but they have Tom Boonen too, who is still fighting his way back from injury.
Defending champion Nairo Quintana won't be racing but his brother Dayer is. When asked what the difference between them was the younger brother simply said: "I don’t think that there’s much difference but I’m still learning"
The Giro d'Italia will start with an important 17.6km time trial. The teams have been out looking at the course over the past couple of days and we've compiled a gallery of their training rides.
Fabio Aru and his Astana team leave the stage and make way for Richie Porte and the Sky team. Of all the contenders this season, Porte has definitely been the strongest but can he keep it up over three weeks.
Ryder Hesjedal spoke briefly after getting up on stage. The 2012 winner said, "I feel very good to be at this race I want it. The team is her and I’m ready to try again.
"Always it’s the same to perform to the best of your ability. Wherever that puts you, you have to be happy with. They field here is incredible and it’s a very hard race to win but I know if I perform my best then I can be up there."
Alberto Contador steps on stage followed by Ivan Basso. The two were competitors for a long time but this year Basso will be helping Contador try to achieve his Giro-Tour double.
@tinkoff_saxo Fri, 8th May 2015 17:28:08
Orica-GreenEdge are next to be presented to the crowd. They've got an strong line-up with Michael Matthews and Simon Gerrans. They've also got the young Esteban Chaves targeting the overall classification. He could be a dark horse in the mountains.
GreenEdge won the team time trial last year and will be looking to do it again. Cyclingnews spoke to team directeur sportif Matt White this morning and here is what he had to say about the time trial course tomorrow.
"Well it's on a bike path to start with. It's a bike path, so it's narrow at times. We've got guys who live in Monaco so they no the course and we know it's going to be really fast. The one thing that stands out for now is that you hope teams dont have problems, like Garmin did last year. If there's a crash then it's so narrow I think the cars could struggle getting to the riders quickly," he said.
"The boys are on the course right now but the only time we'll see the course in full road closure mode is tomorrow, just over an hour before the start of the race. Right now there are cycle tourists on there. Every team is in the same position in that sense."
With Orica-GreenEdge the team presentation has come to a close but that's not it from us. Stick around from more reaction from the riders and teams.
@Cyclingnewsfeed Fri, 8th May 2015 17:38:21
The trophy is in pride of place on the stage. Who do you think will win it? We've put together a list of 10 contenders for the Giro d'Italia here
Orica-GreenEdge will be looking to take the first maglia rosa of the race in tomorrow's team time trial. Michael Matthews spent a week in pink last year, but he says stage victory tomorrow takes precedence over another stint in the maglia rosa.
"The goal is to have the team win the pink jersey. I don’t think it matters who crosses the line first as long as we win the stage and have the pink jersey," he said.
"We have some really fond memories of this race last year. Winning the team time trial and wearing the pink jersey for eight day. We have a really strong team to make some really nice results this year."
@richie_porte Fri, 8th May 2015 17:48:09
Richie Porte (Team Sky) believes that this year's Giro d'Italia is the race for him. To find out why, you can read the full story right here.
Just incase you missed it. The teams and riders were out pre-riding the Giro d'Italia's opening team time trial course. You can check out the full gallery of photos.
We have a full gallery of the 2015 Giro d'Italia team presentation right here, where you can see all the teams and riders on stage, along with the trophy.
Thank you for following along with our live coverage of the 2015 Giro d'Italia team presentation.
Please join us tomorrow for the start of the Italian Grand Tour's 17.6km team time trial starting in San Lorenzo al Mare and concluding in San Remo.
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