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09/05 - Stage 1 (TTT) - San Lorenzo to Mare Sanremo - 17.6 km

The route
As you can see on the profile, there aren’t any major difficulties awaiting the riders today. After the start in San Lorenzo al Mare, it doesn’t take long before the riders get onto the Pista Ciclabile cycling path, also known as the Cycling Riviera. This is where most of the route takes place. The terrain is flat but the road is narrow and it twists and bends now and then. The relays need to be very well coordinated.

The riders get off Pista Ciclabile for a brief moment in Arma di Taggia after 9.9 km. Here, they pass through the intermediate time check before getting back on the cycling path again. The scenery alongside the coastline is breathtaking but only the spectators will be able to enjoy it.

The riders stay on the cycling path until just about 600 meters to go. Here, they turn left and later right, leading them onto Lungomare Italo Calvino. The last 250 meters are straight-out towards the finishing line. Many riders will know this last part, as it’s where Milano - San Remo finished from 2008-2014.

The favorites
The way I see it, the number one favorite is Orica GreenEdge. Not because they won the opening TTT last year but simply because they have the best time trial roster in the race. Even though Svein Tuft had to forfeit due to injuries, the Australian team is still in a league of their own. Having riders like Michael Hepburn, Luke Durbridge, Brett Lancaster, Sam Bewley and Michael Matthews to set the pace, it will be a surprise not to see GreenEdge start off the race as they did last year. This time, just with a different rider crossing the line first.

The teams with the two big GC favorites are also amongst the top favorites for this team time trial. Tinkoff-Saxo always perform well in this discipline. It has been a personal goal for Bjarne Riis to see his team succeed here. The Dane is no longer connected to the team but that doesn’t mean the team suddenly stops doing well against the clock. Michael Rogers, Manuele Boaro, Roman Kreuziger and the rest of the team will do everything they can to make sure Alberto Contador gets the best possible start of the race. I expect the now Russian team make podium today.

The same goes for Team Sky. Richie Porte can’t afford to lose any time to Contador. Especially not against the clock. He himself is amongst the best time trialists in the race and thanks to the likes of Vasil Kiryienka, Bernhard Eisel, Kanstantsin Sioutsou and Elia Viviani, Team Sky will be able to fight for a podium spot today. I doubt they’ll repeat their win from 2013 but I don’t think they’ll be far off.

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The outsiders
Katusha took everybody by surprise in Tour of Romandie; not only by producing the overall winner but also by finishing 3rd in the opening team time trial, just 5 seconds behind Team Sky and Orica GreenEdge. The Russians send a very similar team to this Giro. Simon Spilak, who undoubtedly was a big engine in Romandie, is missing but he, and Egor Silin, are replaced by strong riders like Luca Paolini, Sergei Lagutin and Alexander Porsev. They are all able to keep a high pace. Together with Anton Vorobyev and Ilnur Zakarin, it won’t be a surprise to see Katusha mingle with the best teams against the clock this time. Recently, there seem to be no limits to their performances.

Usually, Etixx do very well in this discipline. However, their team in this Giro d’Italia is far from the teams winning the World Championships. Rigoberto Uran is a huge engine and eager to get a good start. Unfortunately, the rest of the riders are not nearly on the same level as the Colombian. Even though Tom Boonen and Iljo Keisse can keep a high pace, I can’t see them match the best teams today. The most important thing for Etixx is to make sure Uran won’t lose too much time on his rivals.

The American BMC team is the current TTT world champions. Still, like Etixx, they don’t bring the big time trial guns to the Giro. Their main engines are Stefan Küng, Brent Bookwalter, Philippe Gilbert and their GC hope Damiano Caruso. It’s a solid team but without any super time trialist to put them amongst the stage favorites. I doubt they will be able to fight for the win but I wouldn’t be surprised if they made top5.

Astana may also aim for Top5. The Kazakh team usually perform well in this discipline. They don’t have Nibali to crank up the pace but thanks to riders like Dario Cataldo, Tanel Kangert and Luis León Sanchez they should be able to give Fabio Aru a good start of the race.

I expect Movistar, IAM Cycling and Trek to fight for the remaining places in top10.

For live coverage of the stage, go to steephill.tv. To see the complete starting order click here.

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