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Stage 1: Caprera -- La Maddalena TTT LIVE!

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It's on! As mentioned earlier, I will be out Saturday, so use this for the day's Live Comment thread...

You've seen the enticing map, which has the teams riding on water for 2km as they cross over from one volcanic island to another off the north coast of Sardinia. With "help" from Sherlock, Il Ciclismo makes it sound pretty dramatic. Here's what else you need to know:

  • Stage length: 24km
  • There are two climbs: a 4.5% riser for 3km, and a second hill of 7.3% for 1.1km.
  • Caprera start commemorates the 200th birthday of Giuseppe Garibaldi, the general whose army united the disparate kingdoms of Italy (for better or worse) in 1861.
  • Twice before the race has run round these parts: 1961 (centennial anniversary of the Risorgimento) and 1991 (no particular reason). The latter stage was won by Mario Cipollini.

In past years CSC would have been a prohibitive favorite, although last year they eeked out a one-second win over T-Mobile in the Giro's TTT. Well, Basso's saga torpedoed their plans... but T-Mobile is completely turned over, and third-placed Discovery casually jettisoned now-favorite Paolo Savoldelli, a time trial ace. Everyone thinks Saunier Duval are loaded, but they lost badly last year in this event. I'll go with Liquigas.