Weeks of hype and anticipation culminate Saturday as the centennial celebration of cycling’s most colorful and emotional race finally clicks into gear.
The Giro d’Italia is celebrating its 100th birthday with all the raw emotion, intense passion and hard-edged racing that makes the Italian grand tour one of the season’s highlights.
Stepping center-stage with aplomb is Lance Armstrong, back in his first grand tour since winning the 2005 Tour de France.
Mavic’s TraComp carbon-spoke system, in which the spoke works in both traction and compression, has had a somewhat rocky beginning. A recall this year of all R-Sys front wheels was a black eye for Mavic, a company that has always prided itself on the reliability of its wheels.
In an eleventh-hour deal, Universal Sports secured rights to the Giro d’Italia and will be airing live, start-to-finish coverage of each stage of the 2009 race.
Fans in America will be able to watch complete daily coverage live online at universalsports.com and a taped, same-day show on cable, if Universal’s station is available in their region.
After months of negotiations seemed to fall apart between RCS Sport — the Giro’s parent company — and Universal Sports executive producer David Michaels, a deal was completed Thursday morning.
A spokesman for Lance Armstrong says he and his team will start the Giro d'Italia this weekend wearing Astana uniforms, despite ongoing financial difficulties at the team.
Armstrong's spokesman Mark Higgins told VeloNews one thing is certain: "It will be Astana colors for the Giro when it starts on Saturday."
Of all the major players, Carlos Sastre has been the quietest so far through the 2009 season.
While riders such as Alberto Contador or Andy Schleck have notched impressive victories, the defending Tour de France champion has been in an early-season hibernation.
Sastre insists that he’s fully awoken from his spring slumber and vows to come to life in the three-week Giro d’Italia, starting Saturday in Venice.
Defending Giro d’Italia champion Alberto Contador will be watching this year’s corsa rosa on TV.
That’s just fine for Contador, who has bet everything on winning the Tour de France.
“I’m going to be able to enjoy it from home, even though good memories from last year will make me feel a little nostalgic. This year my objective is the Tour. There’ll be a time for going back to Italy,” Contador explained in a press note. “It’ll be a lovely Giro, with lots of very good riders fighting for victory. It’ll be quite interesting for the spectator.”
Garmin-Slipstream’s Giro d’Italia starts upside down, with the team’s most important stage coming on day 1 and everything else after that being a bonus in the three-week Italian grand tour starting Saturday.
With that in mind, the American team lines up with a loaded squad that should bring more firepower in the team’s quest to defend its title in the team time trial in the opening stage in Venice.
Filippo Simeoni thought winning the Italian national championship last year would help him salvage the final years of his career. He was wrong.
The prestigious tricolore jersey didn’t help him find a ride with a larger, better-funded team and Simeoni was forced to stay with bottom-rung Ceramica Flaminia during 2009.
At least he was holding out hope on wearing the distinctive Italian jersey during the Giro d’Italia.
But those dreams were dashed when race organizers overlooked Simeoni’s modest squad when handing out wild-card invitations.
After strong performances in 2008, Joaquim Rodríguez has finally earned the confidence of his team and rolls into the Giro d’Italia as team leader for Caisse d’Epargne.
With four Giros under his belt, including 17th last year, he will carry the Caisse d’Epargne hopes into the season’s first grand tour.
“I hope to be up front in the GC and win a stage,” Rodríguez said. “That’s my objective, but in the Giro, the most important thing is to do well and enjoy being on the bike last year.”
The Italian L.P.R. Brakes team appears to have its bases covered for the upcoming Giro d’Italia.
The team will boast the firepower of Alessandro Petacchi in the sprint stages and then work for 2007 champion Danilo Di Luca for the overall title.
Sprint ace Petacchi will be back in his first grand tour since the 2007 Vuelta a España following his controversial ban for high levels of the asthma medication Salbutamol. A winner of 19 Giro stages, Petacchi will also take aim for the points jersey.