Giro competitors warm up for first stage

Published Friday, 09 May 2014
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Competitors in the Giro d'Italia warmed up with a practice time trial around Belfast on Friday ahead of the evening's first stage.

The 22 teams and 198 competitors gave an enthusiastic crowd a glimpse of what was to come later on Friday despite the early morning wind and rain.

The Neri-Sottoli team were the first out of the traps, quickly followed by their rivals as the riders had their first taste of the 21.7km course which awaits them just before 6pm.

There were huge cheers for Dan Martin's Garmin-Sharp team as they departed the Titanic Quarter and with Ryder Hesjedal among their starters, they will be expected to be around the top of the leaderboard come the end of stage one.

Marcel Kittel's Giant Shimano are the team to look out for in the evening. The great German's sprinting prowess is second to none, and being favourite for the Maglia Rosa, he will be keen to get off to a solid start.

Also hotly-tipped for a successful first weekend are the Orica Greenedge team, containing the dangerous Michael Matthews of Australia and the Cannondale team, with Elia Viviani in top form coming into the Giro.

The Italian is poised to take over from retiring teammate and compatriot Ivan Basso as their go to guy for a solid performance and he'll be keen to set out his stall here.

Frenchman Nacer Bouhanni could feature if the bunch sprints materialise this weekend but whether his FDJ.fr team can give him the Maglia Rosa on Friday evening remains to be seen.

Stage one of the Giro d'Italia starts from the Titanic Quarter at 5.50pm.

© UTV News
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