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Post Stage Analysis

May 9 update: "I am very happy, this is a fanstastic result, and I dedicate it also to Zabel," said Mark Cavendish, after Team Columbia-High Road's victory in the opening stage of the Giro Centenario. Cavendish now wears the first pink jersey of the race. "I could hold the jersey for another two days and even better to win a stage with this symbol on my back, it would be the best," he said. Cavendish is also the first British rider to wear the pink jersey.

Of the sprinters only Tyler Farrar is a threat to Cavendish's hold on the jersey. The American, who beat Cavendish earlier this season, sits 6 seconds down. Alessandro Petacchi is 22 seconds behind, and Filippo Pozzato is 35 seconds down. After today's show of force, there can be no doubt that Columbia-High Road have the legs to deliver Cavendish to the line. They finished all nine riders together in today's trial. Look for a train of Columbia-High Road jerseys at the front in the closing kilometers of tomorrow's stage 2.

General Classification Update

Among the teams contesting the general classification, the time gaps remain relatively close. Here are the time gaps for the main general classification riders:

Konstantsin Sivtsov
Christian Vandevelde :06
Lance Armstrong and Levi Leipheimer :13
Danilo Diluca :22
Denis Menchov :38
Ivan Basso and Franco Pellizotti :40
Damiano Cunego :42
Carlos Sastre :49
Gilberto Simoni 1:06

Garmin-Slipstream finished second, just six seconds down on Columbia-High Road. After the race, Jonathan Vaughters commented that the team road well, but Columbia-High Road rode even better. Christian Vandevelde has said he is riding the Giro to prepare for the Tour de France, and is not planning to contest the general classification. Bluff? Perhaps, though last year's quiet performance in Italy suggests that Vandevelde will follow the plan. Climber Tom Danielson and crono specialist Dave Zabriskie also crossed the line with Vandevelde, though neither has ridden high in the general classification in the past.

Thirteen seconds behind Columbia-High Road sits Astana with Lance Armstrong and Levi Leipheimer. Both are now well-placed to contest the overall. Armstrong commented that his team-mate Levi Leipheimer looked good, and he remains one of Amstrong's favorites for the overall victory. Chris Horner wrote his blog for The Oregonian, "I was waiting for it, but the chaos never arrived. It was the first time in all my years as professional doing TTT that I have seen a team ride so smoothly." No doubt Astana will hope the next three weeks go equally smoothly.

Danilo Diluca was very pleased with today's crono, saying that "it went better than I hoped." The LPR rider has promised that he will attack in the coming mountain stages. Diluca named the Alpe di Siusi, in particular, as a likely spot for an attack. The 25 kilometer climb comes at the finale of stage 5, on Wednesday. "I want to arrive at the crono in Cinque Terre in the best position possible," he said.

Italian Damiano Cunego was also happy with the day. "I thought to lose major ground to the more specialised teams, but instead I am content to have finish a beautiful cronosquadre," said Cunego. The 2004 Giro winner thanked his team-mates for "an optimal ride." Cunego's team-mate Marzio Bruseghin, 3rd overall in last year's Giro, was especially happy with the "harmony" demonstrated by the team. The former Italian crono champion said after the stage that he had hoped they could do a better time, but it proved impossible to lift the pace in the closing kilometers.

Over at Liquigas, meanwhile, Ivan Basso sits 40 seconds down on Columbia-High Road leader, Konstantsin Sivtsov, and 27 seconds down on the Astana duo of Armstrong and Leipheimer. No doubt he'd like to be a bit closer on time to the two Americans, but he did not show any signs of disappointment after today's stage. "We have a team built to go well for the length of the three weeks, not limited only to the cronosquadre," he said. "The Giro has hardly started," Basso emphasized.

Gilberto Simoni is surely happy about that. Not surprisingly, Simoni's team of climbers at Diquigiovanni-Androni finished at the bottom of the general classification heirarchy. This team is made for the mountains, not the flat, beach-side roads of Venezia. In post-race interview, Simoni nonetheless said that the stage was "good" and his team was "good." End of interview. No doubt the climber from Trentino will become considerably more animated once the Giro heads into the mountains. The first mountain stage comes early during Tuesday's stage 4.

Riders to Watch Tomorrow (Stage 2)

Tomorrow is a stage for the sprinters, running along the Adriatic from Jesolo to Trieste. Nothing stands in the way of a fast final kilometer. Mark Cavendish, the current race leader, has proven nearly unbeatable in flat sprints this season. Watch for the British fastman and team to be at the front. American Tyler Farrar is among the very few riders who have taken victory ahead of Cavendish, and no doubt he would like to repeat the experience. It's the Giro, so Italian Alessandro Petacchi will also be right up front. With his LPR Brakes team set up largely to support Diluca's ambitions for the general classification, Petacchi will not enjoy the luxury of his own personal trano. All the same, he has shown winning form recently, and should never be underestimated on his home roads.

Other potential sprint winners include:

Allan Davis of Quick-Step, fourth at Milano-Sanremo this year. The young Oscar Gatto of ISD. As a junior, Gatto was one of the winningest riders in Italy. He has yet to score a big result as a pro. JJ Haedo of Saxo Bank. Haedo won consistently in North American races, but has struggled a bit in Europe. Expect Robbie Hunter, Ben Swift, and Robert Förster also to be in the mix.

Course Preview

Stage 1: Lido di Venezia Team Time Trial
Date: Saturday, 9 May
Distance: 20 km.
Terrain: Very, very flat
GC Importance: Moderate. The riders for the general classification will not want to lose time here, but it’s still a long way to Roma.

The Centenary Giro opens with a team time trial on the Lido di Venezia, a narrow, 11 kilometer long sandbar that sits between the laguna di Venezia and the Adriatic Sea. The out-and-back course is completely flat, beginning in town and traveling along white sandy beaches. Assuming normal wind directions, a tailwind will encourage the riders toward the turnaround. On the return trip, they will ride against the wind to the finish.

The course follows a mostly straight track. According to Liquigas DS Stefano Zanatta, the curves are not especially difficult and he expects that at the end of the day, the time differences will be relatively small. Ivan Basso, meanwhile, came away from his pre-ride of the course with “very positive” impressions and said, “I like the circuit very much.”

Look for Astana and Liquigas to dominate the proceedings on this opening day of the Giro Centenario. Garmin-Slipstream would no doubt like a repeat of last year’s victory. The climbers over at Diquigiovanni-Androni may find this stage tough going, though they will hope to minimize their deficit. Gilberto Simoni works hard at the crono, but genetics simply aren’t on his side in a stage like this.

By contrast, at Lampre-Ngc Damiano Cunego can count on the support of former Italian crono national champion Marzio Bruseghin. The Lampre-Ngc team will not win, but neither Cunego nor Bruseghin has too much to worry about here, assuming no freak accidents. In the main, this stage should not do much to decide the general classification. Good thing, that, as we still have 20 stages to go.

Also see,
Start order for Opening
Cavendish out to topple Garmin in Giro TTT
Cavendish Eyes Pink Jersey bicycling
Stage 1: The Cronosquadre!podiumcafe
Lieutenant Lance Ou Pink Armstrong? (En Français) —
Cavendish: 'Garmin's team trial trial fixation disrespectful'bikeradar
  Pre-Race Interviews (Italiano) —

Gavia (updates to this preview will be made during the race and especially the day before the stage with current analysis)

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