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91st Giro d'Italia - GT

Italy, May 10-June 1, 2008

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Stage 1 - Saturday, May 10: Palermo (Team Time Trial), 23.6km

Complete live coverage

By Bjorn Haake

15:30 CEST   
Ciao a tutti and welcome back to Cyclingnews' live coverage of the 91st Giro d'Italia. The first Grand Tour of 2008 and we will bring you all the action from Italy. This year's race is wide open. Will Danilo Di Luca defend his title? Or can the Astana boys overcome the struggle of getting a last minute invitation? The Cyclingnews live coverage will answer the questions over the next weeks.

15:41 CEST   
Cyclingnews' Shane Stokes is at the prologue, a 23.6km team time trial and reports that it was raining earlier. For now it has stopped, but it is still overcast and the roads are slippery. The riders better be careful, so they don't suffer the same fate as one of the organiser's motor bikes earlier: A crash under the watchful eyes of thousands of tifosi

15:45 CEST   
We have the first negative positive message of the Giro. Maximilian Richeze is out of the Giro, returning a positive reading from a test in April. He will wait for the B sample, but the Argentinean won't do any Giro sprints this year.

15:51 CEST   
It's been 22 years since the Giro last started in Palermo. Today it was Milram that kicked things off in stage 1. The former Italy-registered team started at 15:30 and will have to do without Alessandro Petacchi, who is suspended for taking something he was allowed to take, but not as much as he did. Erik Zabel will try to get stage win, instead.

15:57 CEST   
Caisse d'Epargne just started, while Milram is heading home. They enter the final kilometre.

15:58 CEST   
Milram has the best time of the day! Well, the first team to finish. They get a 27'17.

16:01 CEST   
And there is Tinkoff getting to the final kilometre. The road goes slightly uphill before they can tackle the last 1000m. The yellow squad looks spent.

16:10 CEST   
Tinkoff has set a new best time, with 27'05. Cofidis has also finished, but they couldn't touch even Milram and got a 27'35.

16:13 CEST   
Saunier Duval is in the last corner, a right hand bend. The teams have to be careful as they approach it with full speed.

16:16 CEST   
Slipstream is riding along nicely. Team doctor Prentice Steffen told Cyclingnews Shane Stokes that the team is downplaying its chances, but really, they are going well. They got second in Qatar and won the TTT in Georgia. Steffen mentioned that Vaughters had put together a team that almost seemed to have been built with the TTT in mind.

16:18 CEST   
Serramenti PVC Diquigiovanni-Androni Giocattoli is finishing, the team with the longest name in this year's race. It features former Giro winner Gilberto Simoni and German sprinter Danilo Hondo. They finish five seconds slower than Milram.

16:21 CEST   
Slipstream is riding along very nicely. David Millar is driving the US team along. There is also Magnus Backstedt and David Zabriskie, who know a thing or two about time trialing.

16:22 CEST   
Caisse is inside the last kilometre. They look smooth, while not having a real specialist.

16:24 CEST   
Caisse gets a 27'26, just a tad slower than the team with the longest name. Slipstream has the best time at the intermediate check for now.

16:26 CEST   
Slipstream has a better time than Astana at the first check. The team around Alberto Contador is nine seconds behind.

16:27 CEST   
Millar was driving the pace like crazy and is losing contact inside the last km. He won't get the maglia rosa if Slipstream wins it.

16:28 CEST   
Wow. Slipstream has pulverised the time of Tinkoff. The US team has a 26'32!!! More than half a minute faster than the Russians.

16:31 CEST   
Shane Stokes talked to Irishman Philip Deignan before the start. The AG2R rider revealed that the team was riding the course this morning in the rain. He said that "It will be lethal [if it rains]. It is very dangerous." We will hope it stays dry. For now it looks good.

16:33 CEST   
Quick Step with Paolo Bettini is finishing. 27'14. It is solid, but nothing to bring the Slipstreamers in danger. Lampre has started.

16:35 CEST   
Astana is riding along the straight roads in Palermo, getting close to the finish. They switch the lead nicely. Will they be able to endanger the lead of the team of specialists?

16:35 CEST   
Astana has now 25min. It's still more than a kilometre.

16:36 CEST   
Astana is 1500m from the finish. It is slightly uphill. It won't be enough to get the lead!

16:37 CEST   
Well, it will be close. 26'14 now! A few hundred metres left!

16:37 CEST   
Nope. Slipstream's time holds up, as Astana takes the last turn.

16:38 CEST   
Astana barely makes it ... not under 27min - 27'01.

16:39 CEST   
CSF Navigare is on the course. Its current speed is 52km/h.

16:40 CEST   
CSF ride disk wheels in the back. But now another team that can take the win. CSC is starting.

16:42 CEST   
David Millar said after the race that "Our main objective was to get the jersey. Christian really deserves the jersey," revealing that letting Vande Velde cross the line in first was planned. Millar took long pulls and dropped off at the end.

16:43 CEST   
Rabobank is hitting the line, with one rider less, who was dropped from the pace. Rabobank gets a 27'35. That is a 9th place for now.

16:46 CEST   
CSC has a specialist, too, with Brad McGee. Chris Anker Sørensen is currently in last position. Jens Voigt also is a good team time trialer. Jason McCartney can ride fast and Stuart O'Grady is back from his horrific crash last year. It will be tough for Slipstream to stay on top, but they have set a good time.

16:47 CEST   
Française des Jeux is on the road. They are some 12min in to the race right now. Euskaltel at the last km. They can't be called specialists.

16:48 CEST   
Three riders of the Basque team take the last right hand turn a few metres ahead of the rest of the team. No, they certainly aren't specialists. Which nets them the last time for now - 27'45.

16:50 CEST   
Lampre looks very fluid, but they also don't have a specialist. Marzio Bruseghin is the captain.

16:51 CEST   
Lampre's speed currently is between 48 and 52 km/h. Barloworld takes the start. Enrico Gasparotto took the pink jersey last year after the first stage. Can he repeat the performance?

16:52 CEST   
CSC has a national champion, too. Gustav Erik Larsson wears a blue jersey with a large yellow cross. He is the Swedish Champion.

16:53 CEST   
And new best intermediate time for CSC, at km 10.4! They are eight seconds faster than Slipstream.

16:54 CEST   
CSF navigates to 11th time. They are tied with Euskaltel, which actually has a 27'47.

16:55 CEST   
Soler is in the Barloworld line-up. He won't be of much help today, but the skinny Colombian is looking forward to the last week, when the roads get really vertical.

16:56 CEST   
High Road is starting. The nine riders go off the ramp and quickly into formation.

16:57 CEST   
Mark Cavendish has won the prologue at the Tour de Romandie. Aussie Adam Hansen is also in the team.

16:58 CEST   
Bradley Wiggins will try to get High Road a good time. Lampre finishes with seven riders, in 5th place. 27'17.

16:59 CEST   
Lampre's Bruseghin said that "We aren't specialists, but I think we did a nice time trial."

17:00 CEST   
Adam Hansen is riding in the Australian Champion jersey. He won it earlier this year. Liquigas is the next to go.

17:01 CEST   
Franco Pellizotti is in the centre, with his trademark hair hanging out under his helmet. As always, not the most aerodynamic, but if he lets the others do the pulling it won't slow them down at all.

17:02 CEST   
CSC averaged 54km/h until the first check. But it wasn't enough. Barloworld has bettered them by one second!

17:03 CEST   
The French gambling team is entering the last metres. Française des Jeux has dropped one rider before the final turn. And already 27'33! They will be slower then Euskaltel.

17:03 CEST   
27'58 - at least they managed to stay below 28min.

17:05 CEST   
CSC has only eight riders left. Barloworld pedals along, with the ocean to their left and lots of palm trees reminding them that usually people hang out at the beach rather than riding a bike like crazy.

17:06 CEST   
Two Italians have started, but they are part of a German team, Gerolsteiner, including Giro stage winner Robert Förster.

17:06 CEST   
CSC at the last turn, with 26'12

17:07 CEST   
They sprint!

17:07 CEST   
They can't do it! 26'38. They lost in the final part of the race and Slipstream stays on top! Vande Velde can still dream pink!

17:09 CEST   
High Road rides through the harbour area. But no time to check left and right, as they still have a good 12 minutes ahead of them.

17:09 CEST   
Barloworld is at 19 minutes. They are close to the finish, too. Did they start too fast, like CSC?

17:10 CEST   
Barloworld rides on the right hand side of the road, where the asphalt appears to be smoother. Every second counts.

17:10 CEST   
Silence-Lotto is starting.

17:11 CEST   
High Road is on a stretch of road with trees on both sides of the road and forming sort of a roof. Shady there, but less wind.

17:12 CEST   
AG2R is entering the last 1000m.

17:12 CEST   
The French team is looking OK, but they won't be near the top three.

17:13 CEST   
While there was rain earlier, it is warm, around 19 degrees. Spectators have short sleeves. AG2R is 12th, with a 27'35

17:15 CEST   
High Road is almost losing Kanstantsin Siutsou , who is gapped by a few metres. Bradley Wiggins drops back and shouts some encouragement, hitting his thighs with his right hand. Easy said for the Britain TT specialist!

17:16 CEST   
LPR starts, with defending champion Danilo Di Luca. Also in the team is former winner (twice) Paolo Savoldelli.

17:17 CEST   
Barloworld has also slowed. They are ten seconds faster, but they are still a few hundred metres form the line.

17:18 CEST   
Barloworld has a 26'45, an average of almost 53km/h! Gasparotto leads them home.

17:19 CEST   
A pink Di Luca leads LPR. He wears number 1.

17:21 CEST   
High Road looks good! 26'25 and inside the last km!

17:21 CEST   
Wiggins pulling hard in the final metres!

17:21 CEST   
Adams also looking good. 30 more seconds and 400m!

17:21 CEST   
Last turn for High Road

17:22 CEST   
26.24 - it's close

17:23 CEST   
NOOOO. They can't do it. They lost almost ten seconds in the last 3km. They get a 26'38. Looks very good for Slipstream now.

17:25 CEST   
LPR Brakes has no brakes on and flies along the streets of Palermo. Di Luca is at the back for now, but they switch the lead often.

17:26 CEST   
Liquigas is going well! Only three seconds off the Slipstream pace and 1500m to go!

17:26 CEST   
They pass the flamme rouge with 25'28. It will be close.

17:26 CEST   
They will have to average almost 60km/h for the final 1000m.

17:26 CEST   
Last turn and they have 26'16

17:27 CEST   
A nail biter. 300m to go.

17:27 CEST   
Nope, neither Liquigas can do it. Slipstream has done a terrific ride and not lost any time in the end, like the others. 26'40 for the Italian team

17:30 CEST   
Gerolsteiner looks nice and smooth, but they don't look like they can be a threat to Slipstream. Well, it wasn't expected either.

17:31 CEST   
Nibali was happy with fourth place and refused to say it was bad luck. "No, I don't think the wind changed [to a headwind]. We were really flying at the end."

17:32 CEST   
Rebellin in fourth. The Italian is hoping for a good Giro, after having a great spring campaign again. Gerolsteiner is inside the last kilometre.

17:33 CEST   
But they are already 30 seconds outside the best time with the last turn.

17:33 CEST   
27'26 for Gerolsteiner. It's about that they would have expected.

17:34 CEST   
Only two more teams out there. Silence, which is in the process of dropping half the team. And LPR Brakes.

17:35 CEST   
Some Lotto riders were able to respond to the attack of their team-mates, but two riders are struggling to get back. They may not get dinner tonight...

17:36 CEST   
Lotto is riding in one line again, postponing their club championships for a more appropriate time.

17:36 CEST   
Di Luca has a high cadence - higher than some of his team-mates. It looks nice, as he pedals along in pink.

17:37 CEST   
Silence-Lotto is close to Slipstream's time. 26'31! But still one kilometre to go for the Belgian squad.

17:39 CEST   
Lotto seem to have slowed down and some riders made it back to the group. 27'50 for the team around Robbie McEwen, who will start the race in earnest tomorrow.

17:41 CEST   
With LPR already at 24min, one can assume that Christian Vande Velde will take out the pink jersey today! What a ride from Slipstream and what a ride by David Millar, who gave up his own chances by giving everything for the team and dropping back in the final km.

17:41 CEST   
25'50 for LPR and still 1000m to go. Impossible for them to win now.

17:42 CEST   
This means Di Luca will hand over the pink to Vande Velde, although we hope it'll be washed first. Or better yet, they have another one, with the right sponsor logo on it, too.

17:43 CEST   
LPR has a 27'00 flat. So now it's official! Slipstream wins the TTT and Christian Vande Velde becomes the first leader of the 2008 Giro.

17:45 CEST   
Di Luca did enjoy his ride in pink. "It's terrific!" he exclaimed, still catching hi breath at the finish. And will we see him in the mountains? "That's for sure!" the LPR captain said.

17:54 CEST   
Magnus Backstedt said that "We rode a great time trial and we were a great unity." The US team can be very happy with this victory and continues the tradition of US teams doing well in the TTT.

Vande Velde receives the pink jersey under loud . applause! He has his cap on with the brim to the back - that way,he can see better where to spray the champagne.

17:56 CEST   
Well, thanks for joining Cyclingnews on stage 1 of the Giro d'Italia. What a start it has been! Congratulations to Slipstream, Christian Vande Velde and Jonathan Vaughters. See you tomorrow for stage 2 and the answer if Robbie McEwen is back to his old self, taking out the stages in the Corsa Rosa. A domani.

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