Hello and welcome to the Cyclingnews live coverage of stage one of the Giro d'Italia. We'll have all the news and action from the countdown to the start of the Belfast team time trial and when the teams get underway.
The sun is out in Belfast as the minutes tick down to the start of the Giro d'Italia. The first team will take the start at 5:50pm local time. In two hours time.
Everything is set for the Big Start or Grand Partenza in Belfast. The crowds have been huge so far and the city has turned pink to celebrate the Corsa Rosa.
The opening stage is a 21.7km team time trial in the streets of the city.
For more information on the stage and the start times of all the times, click here.
The teams start at five minute intervals, with the Colombia team first off at 5:50pm local time. Big favourite for victory Orica-GreenEdge also has an early start at 5:55pm, while Neri Sottoli is the last team to start at 7:35pm local time
The teams spent the morning training on the time trial course and testing equipment. They got a taste of the fast descent and climb to Stormont Castle and the final part of the route in the city centre of Belfast.
The day started badly for Brent Bookwalter, who crashed during training. Fortunately he seems okay and will start the Giro d'Italia.
Read more and what he said after the crash here.
The teams are already set up in the Titanic shipyard, where the team time trial starts.
The team buses, tricks and the riders' bikes are lined-up in the shadow of the spectacular Titanic Museum.
The Orica-GreenEdge team is the favourite for victory, with Movistar also expected to do well.
Orica-GreenEdge can count on Luke Durbridge and Michael Hepburn to power them at high speed.
Read about the two Australian riders here.
The Orica-GreenEdge team will be the second team to start at 5:55pm local time. The Australian team is likely to set the fastest time and so will be in the hot seat at the finish as the other teams come in.
Teams have opted to use big gears for the team time trial, choosing between 56 and 55 tooth chain rings.
The 22 teams in action in this year's Giro d'Italia were given a warm welcome on Thursday night during the official team presentation.
We captured a great gallery of images of the event. Click here to see the gallery.
Cyclingnews will have more video content than ever before for the Giro d'Italia.
Ahead of the race we created a couple of exclusive videos. The first looks at the top five contenders for this year’s overall battle.
Click here to see the video.
Remember to subscribe to Cyclingnews channel by clicking on the subscribe button on our YouTube page, so you don't miss the latest video.
The Giro d'Italia organisation has honored the memory of Wouter Weylandt, who perished in a crash on stage 3 in the 2011, by removing number 108 from the available bib numbers. Weylandt was wearing dossard 108 that year.
The Lampre-Merida team therefore starts with Damiano Cunego as rider 100.
The second video picks out our choice of the top sprinters in the race too. Marcel Kittel leads the pack but find out who else we’ve listed as the fast men to keep an eye on.
Click here to watch it.
Remember to subscribe to the Cyclingnews channel by clicking on the subscribe button on our YouTube page.
We're just an hour away from the start of the team time trial. The first team leaves at 5:50pm local time.
The first ever TTT at the Giro d'Italia was held in 1937.
Check out this retro photo gallery from the last 30 years of the TTT. Click here.
Our video partner, inCycle, has also produced two stunning videos in the lead up to this year’s race.
The first is a historical look back at the Giro d’Italia and has rare race footage dating back to the first editions of the race.
We're boosting our live coverage during the Giro d'Italia with a series of special guest and experts.
The first is former rider Bobby Julich who is now a coach with the BMC team. He knows everything about team time trials and will give us some special insight during the race.
If you have any questions you'd like Julich to answer, post them on out Facebook page here.
This is the start ramp for the Giro d'Italia team time trial in Belfast, with the Titanic museum in the background.
Race organiser RCS Sport has confirmed via Twitter that the Pope has blessed the pink jersey.
From the Cyclingnews blimp above Belfast we can confirm that the sun is still shining. It's cool but the riders will be happy to race on dry roads.
Gazetta dello Sport has revealed some interesting number concerning the team time trial.
The first ever 'crono squadre' was held in 1937, with a 60km test between Viareggio and Marina di Massa on the Tuscan coast. The stage was won by Gino Bartali's Legnano team at an average speed of 43.902km/h.
The record average speed for the team time trial at the Giro d'Italia was set by the CSC team in 2006.
Bjarne Riis' team covered the flat 38km between Piacenza and Cremona at an average of 56.860km/h.
In 2013 the team time trial was held on stage 2 on the island of Ischia, near Naples. Team Sky won the rolling 17.4km test, with Salvatore Puccio crossing the line first and so he pulled on the pink leader's jersey.
The second video will get the arms on the back of your neck standing up. It’s a beautiful promotional video for the Giro d’Italia and features race footage from Vincenzo Nibali’s win in 2013.
Click here to watch it.
And of course, don’t forget that you can subscribe to the Cyclingnews video channel for free. Click here.
We’d like to extend a big welcome to BMC’s Bobby Julich who has joined us in the CN blimp for a pre-race discussion.
So let’s start with BMC. How is the team coming into the Giro and what do you think of their chances today on the TTT course?
Bobby Julich: The team is strong and Cadel is motivated. They have to be feeling good after their TTT win in Trentino, but everyone is "playing for keeps" here in the Giro.
CN: what's it like going into a race like the Giro with a GC contender in your team? You were there several times. Does it give you motiviation or does it just pile on the pressure and the nerves?
Bobby Julich: Going into the race with a GC favourite does add pressure to the situation, but since it is an "all for one" deal, as long as the leader doesn't loose time, it is a successful day. That being said, no one wants to under perform during a TTT because it directly effects the leaders GC chances.
CN: And you've been there, you won a number of TTTs in your career. I think everyone remembers your ride with Credit Agricole in the 2001 Tour to keep O'Grady in yellow. What's the secret to winning a TTT? It's not just about having the nine strongest guys is it?
Bobby Julich: The secret to winning a TTT is the finding the highest average speed that the team can handle as soon as possible and hold that to the end. Everyone has to commit and give their all during the effort. Keep calm, focused, and relaxed.
The full order of start times for the TTT is as follows. Teams start at five minute intervals.
6.20pm Lotto Belisol
6.25pm Trek Factory Racing
6.45pm Team Sky
7.00pm Ag2r-La Mondiale
7.05pm Androni Giocattoli
7.25pm Omega Pharma-QuickStep
7.35pm Neri Sottoli.
At the start some teams are already busy with their warm-up protocol. Most riders spend about 30 minutes on a turbo trainer upping their speed and effort during that time.
CN: Have you ever been in a TTT when things have fallen apart?
Bobby Julich: Yes, it was the Tour of 2004 and it seemed like everything went wrong. Jens Voigt flatted after 1km and we waited, 3 of us crashed in a corner, and then Carlos Sastre eased up at the end and wound up loosing time in the last 200m. When things go right in a TTT they go right and when they go wrong, they go really wrong!!
Maxime Monfort warms up for his ride.
There is just five minutes to the start of the 2014 Giro d'Italia!
The clouds are gathering above the start ramp.
Here we go! The Colombia team is on the start ramp.
CN: Well fingers crossed for today but what can you tell us about the BMC line-up, who do you expect to do most of the work today and will one rider be tasked with keeping everything together?
BMC has a very balanced team with a high level of confidence coming into the race. Cadel is the boss, but the other riders are ready. Oss, Hermans, Quinziato, Morabito, Bookwalter, and Sanchez have to form the power line, but don't forget about the smaller guys like Eijssen and Wyss who can more than hold their own in a TTT.
They're off! Colombia rolls away. The 2014 Giro d'Italia is underway.
Wow! There are huge crowds on the road side cheering the Colombia team.
The Colombia team is a little split after a series of corners but get back into a single line.
Here goes Orica-GreenEdge. They will set the time to beat.
CN: The BMC team goes off pretty late. Will that help them, knowing what the likes of GreenEdge will have posted or will they try and block all that out?
Bobby Julich: No doubt starting later in the order and knowing the times that the others set is super important, but there is little that you can do if the team doesn't have the legs on the day. Sure the DS's have the split times, but you can't tell your riders to go faster because they are already going as fast as they can. All that you can hope for is to squeeze those few crucial seconds out of the team at the end if the times are really close.
Orica-GreenEdge is more disciplined that Colombia and is riding in a smooth single line.
It is Svein Tuft's birthday today and so the Orica team could let him cross the line first in the hope he takes the pink leader's jersey.
Huge crowds line the road to Stormont. The people of Belfast have really embraced the Giro d'Italia.
Tinkoff-Saxo is off next.
Nico Roche gets a big cheer.
And it is Roche who leads the team away.
CN: And finally, lets get a prediction. What's your top three for today?
Bobby Julich: Orica-GreenEdge, BMC, and Movistar… I believe that the top 10 teams will be within 20 seconds of each other as long as the weather stays the same for everyone, so this is really splitting hairs here! Good luck to everyone!
CN: Thanks for joining us today, Bobby.
Colombia set an int time of 9:22.
Orica is approaching the time split.
Orica set a time of 9:00 at the time split.
FDJ.fr is off! They will be protecting sprinter Nacer Bouhanni for the rest of the race.
Orica has lost Mitch Docker, perhaps due to a mechanical.
Tinkoff-Saxo sets a time of 9:05 at the split after 8km.
At the finish some spectators are opening umbrellas. Rain and wet roads for the later teams could change everything.
Katusha is off. They will ride to protect team leader Joaquim Rodriguez.
Orica is getting wet in the rain but they will have an advantage on the dry road for much of the course.
The crowds are huge along the road side.
Orica is down to seven riders as they return to the city centre.
9:27 for FDJ.fr at the time split.
Movistar rolls off. Can they beat Orica-GreenEdge?
Here comes Colombia, with just five riders left.
Colombia sets time of 26:04.
Orica is still well-drilled as they reach 3km to go.
Heavy rain is falling on the road to Stormont.
Here comes Orica....
Orica sets a time of 24:42.
Tuft brought home the five riders and so could pull on the pink jersey.
Katusha lost Gusev on a corner but the others waited for him.
Movistar is approaching the time split. We'll soon see if they as fast as Orica.
Movistar sets a time of 9:26. They are a lot slower. The rain is having a big impact on times.
At the finish Tinkoff-Saxo sets a time of 25:05.
Trek is out on the course but they don't have Fabian Cancellara to drive them along.
Quintana gets a slight push from a Movistar teammate but the Colombian is doing turns on the front.
It's also raining hard at the start as Belkin sets off. It will be hard for anyone to beat Orica-GreenEdge now.
Fdj.fr sets a time of 26:00.
Katusha is having a bad ride. Rodriguez could loose a chunk of time to his GC rivals.
Team Europcar sets off. They will be trying to limit their losses.
Here comes Katusha with five riders.
The Russian squad sets a time of 26:15. That's worse than FDJ.fr and Colombia.
Movistar is next in. They have six riders together including Quintana.
Movistar will not challenge Orica for the stage victory but Quintana could gain some time on his GC rivals.
Belkin is the slowest so far at the split: 9:43.
Movistar finishes with a rider slightly off the back, setting a time of 25:37.
But that is 38 seconds faster than Katusha. Quintana has gained that time on Rodriguez.
These are the standings so far:
1 Orica Greenedge 0:24:42
2 Tinkoff-Saxo 0:25:05
3 Movistar Team 0:25:37
4 FDJ.fr 0:26:00
5 Colombia 0:26:04
6 Katusha 0:26:15
Team Sky is off! Can they beat Orica?
Lotto finishes in a time of 26:15. They're well off the pace and slowest so far.
Team Sky has a mixed squad, with no real team leader: Dario Cataldo, Edvald Boasson Hagen, Philip Deignan, Bernie Eisel, Sebastian Henao, Chris Sutton, Salvatore Puccio, Kanstantsin Siutsou and Ben Swift.
Lampre-Merida climbs up to Stormont and stops the clock in 9:36.
Cannondale starts. They will be riding to protect Ivan Basso. He needs a good start to the Giro after a poor race build-up.
Trek finish fast, in a time of 25:42.
Trek is the 4th fastest so far.
Team Sky gets a huge cheer at Stormont but their time is slow, only 9:34.
Belkin finishes in 25:43.
CJ Sutton has been dropped by Team Sky.
Cannondale is in a single line but does not look fast.
A problem for Lampre-Merida. Niemec had a problem and so the other riders waited for him. His Giro has started with a loss of time.
Cannondale gets a huge cheer at the time split but their time is slow: 9:46.
Europcar has eight riders together but their time is high. They set 26:30. Worst time so far.
The rain has stopped and the roads are drying but it is perhaps too late for anyone to better the time of Orica-GreenEdge. They rode in mostly dry conditions and stopped the clock in 24:24.
Svein Tuft is the virtually race leader after bringing home the Orica-GreenEdge team.
Lampre-Merida sets a time 26:02. It could have been a lot worse for team leader Niemiec.
Team Sky is close to the finish and the crowds are opening to let them through like on a mountain stage.
Team Sky has pulled back some time with a disciplined ride. They set a time of 25:17, third fastest so far.
Ben Swift brought home Team Sky, who finished with seven riders.
Garmin-Sharp is out on the road. Can they go close to Orica?
BMC could also be a threat. However they will be riding to protect Cadel Evans and his GC hopes.
Cannondale is finishing fast and sets a time of 25:35. Fourth so far. That's pretty good for Basso and perhaps Viviani's chances of pink in a few days time after the stage bonuses up for grabs during the road stages.
The roads are still wet but the teams are following a dry line created by the team cars and motorbikes.
Garmin-Sharp still has eight riders at the Stormont time split. They set a time of 9:39.
BMC is off. They have several strong riders in their squad but will also have to protect Cadel Evans.
25:38 for Giant-Shimano, with Kittel bringing them home.
The Ag2r-La Mondiale team is on the way to the finish, with team leader and climber Domenico Pozzovivo hanging on for dear life at the back of the line.
OPQS roll down the start ramp. Rigoberto Uran finished second overall last year and the Belgian team is usually strong in TTT, when they benefit from Tony Martin's power and speed. He's not here this time but it will be interesting to see what time they set.
Crash! Garmin-Sharp loose several riders.
Cardoso is down. The other riders don't know what to do. They need five to finish.
It seems that four riders went hard, including Dan Martin.
He is still sat on the road and is holding his arm.
Garmin-Sharp was down to eight riders and the fourth in the line seemed to hit a grid in the road and lost control, bringing down the others.
However the team needs to finish with five riders.
They now have five riders together but Martin's race seems over.
Meanwhile the BMC is fast, setting a time of 9:12 at the time split. That is only 12 seconds slower than Orica.
Dan Martin is still sat in the road as other teams ride past. He seems to have broken his collarbone.
Omega Pharma-QuickStep is also riding well, setting a time of 9:14 at the time split.
Nero Sottoli, the last team to start, is underway. We will know who will win the stage and take the pink jersey in 25 minutes or so. However it seems that Svein Tuft is going to be in pink tonight.
Garmin-Sharp gets a huge cheer of support as they finish in a time of 28:08. With Martin out, Hesdejal will now become the team leader but starts with a signficant handicap.
The final teams could challenge Orica because the roads are no dry. Orica raced the second part in the dry earlier.
25:49 for Bardiani-CSF at the finish.
BMC will finish in two minutes. Can they go close to Orica?
BMC still has six riders. Here they come.
BMC sets a time of 24: 49, just seven seconds slower than Orica-GreenEdge.
They miss out on the stage victory but Evans is the best placed of the GC contenders.
These are the top ten standings:
1 Orica Greenedge 0:24:42
2 BMC 0:00:07
3 Tinkoff-Saxo 0:00:23
4 Team Sky 0:00:35
5 Cannondale 0:00:53
6 Movistar Team 0:00:55
7 Giant-Shimano 0:00:56
8 Ag2r-La Mondiale 0:00:58
9 Trek Factory Racing 0:01:00
10 Belkin 0:01:01
OPQS is close to the finish.
Veteran Petacchi is leading the team to the last corner.
They set a time of 24:47. Second for OPQS, two seconds faster than BMC.
Astana is the next team set to finish. They're still together with eight riders.
Thanks to the time bonuses on the road stages, Petacchi has a great chance of taking pink if he finishes first or second in the sprint in Belfast.
Here comes Astana.
25:20 for the boys in sky blue.
Only Neri Sottoli has still to finish but they are off the pace.
Orica-GreenEdge is about to be crowned as the stage winners and Svein Tuft of Canada will be the first race leader and first pink jersey of the 2014 Giro d'Italia.
Team owner Gerry Ryan is in Belfast to join in the celebrations. It's Australia's day on stage 1 of the Giro d'Italia.
This victory goes some way to make up for losing to OPQS at the world championships in Florence.
However they have again proved to be the best in the world after also winning the TTT at the 2013 Tour de France.
Neri Sottoli finish 1:01 slower than Orica.
With all the teams finished, that means Orica-GreenEdge is the official stage winner, with Svein Tuft in the maglia rosa.
Tuft thanked his teammates for helping him take the pink jersey.
"What an amazing day. I never imagined something like this would happen. I'm so proud of the team and can't thank them enough," he said.
"They gave me the gift, it was really a birthday present. This team is really selfless that way. I feel really fortunate to be given that gift on my birthday."
Orica-GreenEdge set a time of 24:24, beating OPQS by five seconds. BMC was third at seven seconds.
Tuft celebrates his 37th birthday today. What a present for the chilled-out Canadian.
Orica is now on the podium celebrating their win, spraying each other in Italian Prosecco.
Tuft climbs on stage to pull on the pink jersey. He's only the second Canadian to wear pink after Ryder Hesjedal.
Tuft smiles and shakes his head in disbelief. But he is the first pink jersey of the 2014 Giro d'Italia.
Tuft opens the Prosecco in celebration. Today he is the winner. Last year he as the lantern rouge, last overall at the Tour de France. He is one of the cornerstones of the Orica team.
As Tuft and Orica-GreenEdge celebrate a great day, it's time to wrap up or live coverage of stage one.
We'll have a full report on the stage, photo galleries, interviews and news, especially on Garmin-Sharp's terrible crash and Dan Martin's retirement, on Cyclingnews very soon.
Join us on Saturday for live coverage of stage two around Belfast. The 2014 Giro d'Italia has only just begun.
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