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The 93rd Giro d’Italia clicks into gear with a flat, but deceptively difficult 8.4km individual time trial on the streets of Amsterdam on Saturday. VeloNews European correspondent Andrew Hood grabbed a bike and previewed the course earlier this week.
As you might expect in Holland, the course is flat as a pancake, but features its share of challenges that will make for an interesting battle.
The length, a little longer than a shorter, more explosive prologue of 3-5km, will probably limit the chances for victory by the sprinters such as Tyler Farrar from any chance of victory.
Long, wide-open boulevards, especially in the second half, will tip the favor toward the time trial specialists, such as Marco Pinotti, David Millar, Cadel Evans, Alexander Vinokourov and Bradley Wiggins. Road surfaces are varied throughout the route, ranging from smooth blacktop to uneven cobbles to well-worn urban roads.
Throw in oil patches, rail line crosses and other road furniture, and the route presents a stiff challenge. Weather forecasters are calling for a 40 percent chance of rain, with temperatures in the low 50s and moderate northeasterly winds. Wet roads will dramatically alter the dynamic of the race and anyone racing under conditions will have a huge advantage.