Tonight, at 19:00 local time, the 2009 Giro Donne finally began with a 2.5km prologue time trial in Scarperia, near Florence, and the last rider is expected to finish at 22:00, which suggests 1 minute intervals at first then 2 minutes for "I big." In contrast to last years’s jaunt up and down the station car park, this year the organisers are riding right through the best bits of a very pretty and historic village. Scarperia was built by the Florentines in the early 14th Century to protect their northern flank, and its dominant feature is the Palazzo dei Vicari, sited of course in the Piazza Vicari, which holds both the start and finish lines.
The course is pretty straightforward as the map suggests: head out slightly uphill, turn at the top, ride back downhill on the next road, turn at the bottom and head back. The number of floodlights could give an advantage to the girls who start in early and under natural light, if like last year there aren’t enough for the riders to safely judge the corners, but seeding should limit that advantage to total outsiders. Olympic Gold and Silver medal winners Kristin Armstrong and Emma Pooley are the obvious favourites, Bronze Karen Thurig is not riding this year.
For those of you who are able to receive it, be that through the standard channels or via the grey market, Rai Sports Piu will have coverage at 23:30 local time tonight (And note that tomorrow's advertised broadcast is at 16:45 in the afternoon - I don't know whether that is a repeat of today's show or a report from stage 1). There’s no sign yet of any ticker, and I’ve not found anyone twattering either, but things may improve over the week. If you know anything then please share. For now the best source of up-to-date info remains Italian site Cicloweb, even if their website seems stuck back in 1997. Beware the recursive frames that shove the information you want into an ever shrinking corner of your monitor.
(maps courtesy of the Official Site.)
And now with added video, courtesy of the official site.