The team timetrial is basically a fixture in the Giro these days. Maybe it's something about the spectacle, the Italians like spectacles? Or maybe it's a convenient way for a race that has few home riders that like ITTs to avoid too much normal timetrialing without actually making it look like your trying to avoid it. Co-incidentally the Giro is pretty big on mountain timetrials too.
Either way it makes for a fun way to kick off the race (unless you're Dan Martin) and it looks pretty damn cool on TV. This year we start from San Lorenzo al Mare, just by the famous Cipressa climb, and finish on the Lungomare Italo Calvino in Sanremo. The course follows the coastline and for the most parts stay on a bikepath, a "ciclabile" that has been created from an old railway line, with tunnels and everything. If nothing else the images should be pretty, we know from Milano-Sanremo-experience that this coast doesn't stink. Unless you hate azure oceans and picturesque Italian villages of course, in which case I recommend not watching. And also growing a heart.
The course is 17.6 kilometers o not something that will create huge timegaps. Last year they did 22 km and everyone but the crashing Garmins were within two minutes. Riding on a mostly pretty narrow path might make for some opportunity for those willing to gamble a little and ride more on the limits but in that case it might make more of a difference for the stagewin than the GC competition. Teams like Sky and Astana aren't doing any crazy gambles.
Not the easiest TTT in history to predict really. Some of the usual favorites lack some crucial firepower and some of the teams with GC favorites may be hampered by the desire to avoid the fate of Garmin from last year. In the end it's hard to look past the feeling that it will be another chapter in the ongoing TTT-feud between Etixx and Orica. Orica took it in Belfast but my prediction s that Etixx will turn the table on them tomorrow. Orica had to say goodbye to an injured Svein Tuft after his Romandie crash and he is one of their key riders. They also have a bit more deadweight this year in the form of Gerrans and Chaves so look to Etixx to trump them with another squad of riders that don't look too impressive on paper but punches above their weight. Here, if nowhere else, Boonen should come in handy.
The big spoiler might be Team Sky who look formidable on paper but I wonder how hard they will want to push? When we see how technical and risky the course actually is, then we might know better. If it is very simple and straightforward then Sky should take it on pure power alone, and Tinkoff shouldn't be far behind them. Neither of them will want to ruin their race for a mere TTT stagewin though if conditions are even a little bit tricky.
Amy's Food & Vino del giorno
Wine: Rocche del Gatto Pigato 'Spigau' 2006
The Fortress of the Cat. How could I resist? Plus, pigato, a white grape planted primarily in Liguria. Deep golden. Herbs, minerals, nuts, wax, citrus. Not surprisingly, a lot more interesting as it warms up a bit and even better on day two.
Food: So this year, in addition to my wine picks, each stage will have a featured food. Some will be ingredients, some prepared dishes.
I start with olive oil, specifically from Punta Crena. Spoiler: one of their wines will make an appearance soon. Why olive oil? Because it is an important product of the region and will turn up as an ingredient in my dishes for the rest of the Ligurian stages.
For more on Amy's food & wine visit her WineBookGirl blog