The 207 riders from 23 teams who will be begin the 2013 Giro d’Italia later today were presented in the Piazza del Plebiscito in Naples yesterday afternoon. Less formal than the introductions at some other races, it’s a chance for fans – and the press – to see the riders up close ahead of the next three weeks of racing.
That expensive dentistry Cav had done a while back may have cost him half a season, but it proved worth it in the long run, eh? Look at that smile. Lovely. Relaxed, and happy to stop and chat with fans – well, apart from the poor kid waiting in vain for an autograph here – for all the talk about problems with the OPQS leadout, he could well be in the maglia rosa tonight.
Sir Brad, by contrast… best to just say he looked focused. Let’s cut him some slack. He’s embarking on three weeks that could cement his place among cycling’s greats. For him, the presentation seemed a task to get over and done with. Had the get in and out been timed, he’d be in the maglia rosa already (which explains the blurred pic). At least he wouldn’t have to worry about Chris Froome taking it off him later in the race.
The man expected to battle with Wiggins for the overall win is of course Vincenzo Nibali. The Giro will suit him better than the Tour did last year, and he’s been in cracking form, defending his Tirreno-Adriatico title and winning the Giro del Trentino. The opening four days of the race head down towards his native Siciily – his fans will cross in droves from Messina for Stage 4 to Serra San Bruno.
Someone whose been less mentioned in the build-up is defending champion, Ryder Hesjedal. As he was taking the applause on the stage yesterday, we had a quick word with Garmin-Sharp DS Charly Wegelius, who said the low-key build-up suited them just fine. He also said that the Canadian is in great shape. Rivals take note.
First man to wear the maglia rosa last year was Taylor Phinney, and the young American should grit and courage in riding the Stage 4 time trial in it despite being badly hurt in a crash on the previous stage. That won him a lot of admiration in Italy, and he happily posed for pictures with fans yesterday before heading off to be presented.
As we were heading towards the presentation, we saw some local cycling campaigners out on a ride… not exactly Critcial Mass, but in a city notorious for being clogged with traffic, it was nice to see.
The seafront promenade is shared use in parts… though this sign could do with being put back in place.The island on the horizon, top centre? That's Ischia, where the team time trial takes place tomorrow.
You can’t miss the Giro caravan when it arrives – here’s the lead vehicle, although we were unable to ascertain whether Chris Eubanks will be driving it. Not a good idea to be anywhere close when the driver sounds the horn – you’ll jump out of your skin.
Here’s some more vehicles from the caravan, parked up and ready for three weeks driving round Italy dishing out promotional gifts that will be eagerly snapped up by kids and grandmothers alike – watch out for the latter’s sharp elbows…
The Castel dell’Ovo is where the Giro’s race headquarters is located for the Grande Partenza. Beats a school gym. In many other cities, this would be the landmark building – here, it was replaced by the Castel Nuovo in the 13th Century, which itself would be superseded by the Palazzo Reale.
A short distance away along the seafront, the first finish line of the 2013 Giro d’Italia was in place last night… who’ll cross it first today?
Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.