Giro teams all set for the real thing after practice

Teams  make their way through Stormont Estate during Friday morning's Team Time Trial Practice for the Giro D'Italia
Teams make their way through Stormont Estate during Friday morning's Team Time Trial Practice for the Giro D'Italia

The 22 teams in this year’s Giro D’Italia have taken part in the Team Time Trial Practice on Friday morning ahead of Friday night’s opening stage around Belfast city.

Earlier the expected protagonists spoke to the world’s press in about their thoughts ahead of the Big Start, which takes in three stages arouond Northern Ireland and the Republic between Friday and Sunday.

One of the race favourites, Nairo Quintana (Team Movistar): “For the first time ever, there are two Colombians here as favourites, which is a cause of national celebration. But I think everyone sitting here has almost equal conditions to win the Giro. The race will put us all in our place.”

Joaquín Rodríguez (Team Katusha): “There are only 6 riders here because the table is too small for all the others. There are stages for everyone, and I think it will be a very open, very entertaining race, of a very high sporting standard.”

Michele Scarponi (Team Astana): “Astana comes to the Giro with a team that hopes to be competitive on all fronts. I’m the captain, but there’s also Fabio Aru, who is very talented and will one day be a rider who can do well in Grand Tours. He won’t just be a support rider: he’ll have chances to ride for himself too.”

RIgoberto Urán (Omega Pharma - Quick-Step): “The Irish stages will be very important to the overall outcome: they are complicated , windy and cold and it is consistency that wins Grand Tours.”

Nicholas Roche (Team Tinkoff – Saxo): “I’ve been looking forward to this moment for many months. I’m super-excited to be here, and to get going after such a long wait. There’s no great advantage in being the homeboy, but I’m sure it’s going to be a great event starting tomorrow with presentations.”

Dan Martin (Team Garmin Sharp): “This is big goal of my season and I’m here to do the best possible. I’ll take it day by day before I know whether I’m riding for the General Classification or for stage wins.”

Cadel Evans (BMC): “This is my first time in Northern Ireland, and it’s going to be every interesting. The wind is going to be a factor, making these days when we GC contenders must try not to lose time, rather than thinking about gaining time.”

One of the favourites for tonight’s sprint, Marcel Kittel (Team Argos Shimano): “I’m now in the second phase of my season now. I want to be good here, I’m looking forward to my first Giro start so that I can get some experience of this race and, with the team around me, I’m very confident that we can do good things.”

Nacer Bouhanni ( “To win the sprints, you need a good team to keep you at the front in the crucial moments. I’ve yet to win a Grand Tour stage, and I hope that this will be the opportunity.”

Ben Swift (TEAM SKY): “I’ve only known I’ll be riding for about 2 weeks, but I’m coming off the back of some decent form, so it’s a good opportunity to use this form and see what we can come up with.”

Moreno Moser (Team Cannondale): “There’s a lot of interest in me, because it’s 30 years since my uncle [Francesco Moser] won the Giro d’Italia. Honestly, I’m not even thinking about it. I’m happy to be at the start of the Giro d’Italia and I’ll play my cards as best I can.”

Diego Ulissi (Team Lampre - Merida): “Everyone knows who the favourites are. The team captains are Cunego and Niemiec for the General Classification. My goal is to win at least a stage.”