Life at the Giro d’Italia kicks off with a Team Time Trial once again; the most eloquent discipline in order to display the skill and speed apparent in each team’s roster. The professionals will do their best to make this stressful and exhausting test appear as effortless as possible while deciding who will be the first holder of the pink jersey in 2015’s Giro d’Italia.
A 17.6km course will comprise the journey from San Lorenzo al Mare to the historic Sanremo; sharing the majestic Italian coastline which sets the scene for this opening day. Several tunnels along the route will add further consideration to team tactics as to how will be best to ride this curtain raising event, a hell for leather drag race from start to finish.
The time differences on the opening day are likely to be incredibly slim, ensuring motivation to take the first Grand Tour leader’s jersey of the year will be high. Orica-GreenEDGE took the opening Team Time Trial in 2014 and will aim to repeat the result at this years renewal of the most draining of cycling challenges. Should they win and take the Maglia Rosa, there is no doubt that the Australian outfit will do their upmost in order to hold the jersey for the opening week the same as last year. Given the lack of challenges during the time trial, Orica will be favourites to take the win with a blistering run over the flat course.
Team Sky should not find themselves too far off the pace with personnel including Richie Porte, Kanstantsin Siutsou, Leopold König and Salvaotre Puccio. Though the more mountain inclined of the team are likely to suffer the most (Mikel Nieve & Sebastian Henao); Italian Elia Viviani and Bernhard Eisel will be able to compensate for the stragglers within their ranks.
Alberto Contador shall be leading the charge for Tinkoff-Saxo alongside a roster which is likely to put down a serious marker for the win on day one. However, given the nature of the parcours, riders such as Roman Kreuziger, Christopher Juul Jensen, Manuele Boaro, Michael Rogers and Sergio Paulinho would benefit more from a longer and more testing route in their attempts to take the Maglia Rosa on Stage 1.
A dark horse which remains in consideration during these exercises in the testing Team Time Trial is the Spanish squad Movistar. Despite often lacking the apparent skill set when setting up for these event, they often go against the grain and acquire modest results which on occasion evolve into a shock victory. Benat Intxausti, Ion Izagirre and Giovanni Visconti are no slouches when it comes to this discipline, but like Tinkoff-Saxo, would have benefited from a route which encompassed several hills.
BMC are often strong in this area of expertise and bring to the table a squad including the talents of Rick Zabel, Brent Bookwalter and Philippe Gilbert; perhaps not quite the strength usually exhibited by the American registered outfit. Regardless, they are sure to put in a decent turn and are not to be discounted with the talents of Silvan Dillier and Stefan Küng likely to be a leading them home in the latter stages.
Russian team Katusha have already recorded a solid performance effort in this event during the Tour of Romandie and will no doubt look to build upon it at the Giro. Like many of the squads present, the lack of climbs during the course will be detrimental to their efforts, but with Maxim Belkov, Alexander Porsev, Anton Vorobyev and Sergei Chernetskii involved they could still muster a jersey challenging time despite the route.
Etixx – Quick Step, IAM Cycling and Astana are all capable of rounding out the eventual top ten positions, but a serious push at a podium places is likely to be a difficult task given the strength apparent in rival squads
1st Orica-GreenEDGE 2nd Team Sky 3rd Tinkoff-Saxo