By David Hunter
At last we are here!
The Giro opens with a 21.7km TTT
Not a hugely technical course, so certainly one for big powerhouses.
We have a short climb up to Stormont and we finish with an uphill drag. It is due to rain most of the day in Belfast but thankfully it is predicted to stop before Team Colombia set off at 1750. Their might still be an issue with wet roads as they might not have fully dried out before this point. The wind is coming from the West, so a head wind on the long road back from Stormont. This wind is to slightly die down as the evening goes on. Both the roads and the wind look like being in favour of the later starters. Here is the starting times of the big TTT teams:-
Orica 1755, Tinkoff 1800, Katusha 1810, Movistar 1815, Belkin 1830, Sky 1845, Cannondale 1850, BMC 1920, OPQS 1925, Astana 1930.
Orica are the overwhelming favourites for the stage. They pushed OPQS to within 1 second in the World Championships and arrive with the strongest team, by a mile! They have Durbridge, Hepburn, Lancaster, Matthews, Meyer, Docker and Tuft. They should win by a big margin but the wet roads and wind could make it a closer affair.
BMC delivered a hugely surprising TTT in Trentino. They have added some good TT riders and will want to put Cadel Evans into a good early position, on GC.
Movistar were hugely disappointing in Trentino and despite having Castroviejo and Malori, I don’t have confidence in them turning things around.
OPQS are usually favourites in these races, but don’t have the big engines with them. Despite this, they should really make the top 5.
Team Sky are lacking a Wiggins but they are impressive in this discipline and capable of an upset, although it would be a big surprise to see them on the podium.
It really isn’t a normal TTT. Most teams are lacking specialists, so we will probably see most of the GC riders around the same time.
Prediction time …
It has to be Orica, even if the wet roads and wind go against them.
Related: Giro 2014 general preview:https://bicis.frangandara.net/giro-ditalia-2014-general-preview/
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