The Giro d’Italia kicks off with an 8.4-kilometre time trial in the Dutch city of Amsterdam on Saturday.
The riders will tackle the tricky urban circuit, which has some narrow sections and tight turns. The course crosses a number of tram tracks, which are to be filled in with strips of pink foam rubber and covered so they are not slippery.
It’s difficult to predict which sort of rider the course will favour. While there are technical stretches, requiring riders to slow down and then sprint out of a few corners to get back up to speed, the distance tips the swing-o-meter away from the pure sprinters.
The weather forecast for the weekend is not good. Friday start wet and stayed cold and grey, with plenty of breeze. Saturday’s forecast is also wet and chilly.
This means that the time trial will become a test of nerve and skill, as much as speed and strength. The overall contenders may choose to back off when it gets technical, to ensure they stay upright and don’t harm their chances.
And if the weather changes significantly through the day, we could be in for a surprise result.
Matthias Russ of Milram kicks things off. Shortly afterwards, Chris Sutton of Australia - Shane Sutton’s nephew - will have the honour of becoming the first Team Sky rider to go into Grand Tour action.
The time to set aside is shortly after 4pm (UK time). Britain’s David Millar (Garmin-Transitions) starts at 4.08, followed two minutes later by Bradley Wiggins (Team Sky). They are followed by Ivan Basso, Cadel Evans, Alexandre Vinokourov, Richie Porte and Carlos Sastre. The final rider is André Greipel of HTC-Columbia.
START TIMES FOR KEY RIDERS
All times are UK times. Add one hour for local Amsterdam time
12.55 Matthias Russ (Milram)
13.04 Chris Sutton (Team Sky)
13.25 Tyler Farrar (Garmin-Transitions)
13.26 Michael Barry (Team Sky)
13.31 Damiano Cunego (Lampre)
13.44 Adam Blythe (Omega-Pharma)
13.47 Christian Vande Velde (Garmin-Transitions)
13.48 Morris Possoni (Team Sky)
13.54 Gustav Erik Larsson (Saxo Bank)
14.10 Dario Cioni (Team Sky)
14.32 Steve Cummings Team Sky)
14.44 Marco Pinotto (HTC-Columbia)
14.53 Cameron Meyer (Garmin-Transitions)
14.54 Chris Froome (Team Sky)
14.59 Gilberto Simoni (Lampre)
15.15 Daniel Martin (Garmin-Transitions)
15.16 Mathew Hayman (Team Sky)
15.25 Daniel Lloyd (Cervélo)
15.31 Vladimir Karpets (Katusha)
15.33 David Moncoutié (Cofidis)
15.34 Charly Wegelius (Omega Pharma)
15.37 Svein Tuft (Garmin-Transitions)
15.38 Greg Henderson (Team Sky)
15.39 Vincenzo Nibali (Liquigas)
THE LAST 22 RIDERS
15.52 Linus Gerdemann (Milram)
15.54 Michele Scarponi (Androni)
15.56 Filippo Pozzato (Katusha)
15.58 Sébastien Hinault (AG2R)
16.00 Damien Monier (Cofidis)
16.02 Michiel Elijzen (Omega Pharma)
16.04 Marzio Bruseghin (Caisse d’Epargne)
16.06 Sacha Modolo (Colnago-CSF)
16.08 David Millar (Garmin-Transitions)
16.10 Bradley Wiggins (Team Sky
16.12 Ivan Basso (Liquigas)
16.14 Cadel Evans (BMC)
16.16 Eros Capecchi (Footon)
16.18 Alexandre Vinokourov (Astana)
16.20 Alessandro Petacchi (Lampre)
16.22 Richie Porte (Saxo Bank)
16.24 Stefano Garzelli (Acqua & Sapone)
16.26 Dario Cataldo (Quick Step)
16.28 Carlos Sastre (Cervélo)
16.30 William Bonnet (BBOX Bouygues Telecom)
16.32 Bauke Mollema (Rabobank)
16.34 André Greipel (HTC-Columbia)
Giro d’Italia 2010: Cycling Weekly’s coverage index
2010 Giro d’Italia coverage in association with Zipvit