It’s Giro time again! Getting to Venaria Reale wasn’t too bad – Edinburgh to Malpensa Airport in Milan on Easyjet; pick up the hire car and head west towards Torino.

We decided that rather than brave Friday night rush hour traffic, we’d stay in Chivasso, around 20 K from Torino.

A wise decision, Torino was overflowing with ‘Alpini’ – Italian mountain troops, past and present – for their annual ‘beano.’

Venaria Reale
The mounted brigade of the Alpini.

The day after the TTT the Gazzetta reckoned that there were one million people on the streets of the city – we believe it.

Venaria Reale

Finding the finish wasn’t easy due to the sheer volume of traffic and drunk people on the streets – and bear in mind that this was the morning.

‘Arrivo’ duly located, we struck out for the ‘Quartiertappa’ – race HQ.

That was a tad George A. Romero-ish; but instead of zombies taking over the world, it was old guys with funny hats and a lust for beer and red wine instead of blood.

We missed the entrance for the Quartiertappa at our first attempt but eventually stumbled in to the press room or ‘hut’ as Jim has christened it before they had set up to dish out the credentials.

For once in our lives we waited patiently and were rewarded with our neck passes, stickers for the car, a race bible and – a photographers’ bib.

This gives me access inside the barriers at stage finishes – the only thing is that when the other photogs see my paltry :£100 second hand lense, I’ll be rumbled.

Venaria Reale
Creded up and ready to go to work!

Next up was to head all the way back across town to the start in Venaria Reale which is on the northern fringe of the city.

Torino is a big city and the traffic is horrendous – but we got there eventually.

One of the joys of Italy is the standard of the coffee; go in to the smallest, dingiest bar or caff and you’ll still get a smooth, perfect coffee that you could only dream about in Scotland.

Venaria Reale
We have a bit of banter with Alan Buttler, Shack Mechanic.

Duly fortified with a cappuccino and a quick scan at the Gazzetta we headed out into the ever growing throng to get to work.

Venaria Reale
Hondo is one of the best lead-out men these days.
Venaria Reale
First of all, we check out the team boards for the front of the cars.
Venaria Reale
Our pal, the experienced Dario Cioni is enjoying being with Sky.

The angle for the day was to see how the favourites were preparing – Contador, Nibali, Menchov, Scarponi, Rodriguez and Kreuziger.

Venaria Reale
Rodriguez looked in the mood.
Venaria Reale
Nibali oozes detached coolness.
Venaria Reale
Danilo is back on the water-only race fuel.

As might be expected, the ‘old hands’ like Scarponi, Menchov and Contador were relaxed and getting on with the job.

Venaria Reale
Bert gives the mechanic some directions.

But Kreuziger in particular looked very stressed.

Venaria Reale
Kreuziger looked like he knew Astana were not the team for today.

The buses were set up in the narrow streets of the town and the crowds around them built steadily as the day went on.

The biggest crowds were around the Lampre, Saxo and Liquigas buses; whilst teams like Euskaltel and Geox were practically ignored.

Venaria Reale
Liquigas use an example of their product to help with the marketing at the race.
Venaria Reale
Colour-matched turbo tyres are the order of the day.
Venaria Reale
Sky use bonded grip-tape instead of plastic tape. (click for the full image)
Venaria Reale
Big Bjarne still looks fit and healthy, despite having his problems just now.
Venaria Reale
Very trick front brakes on the Treks of Radioshack and Leopard.
Venaria Reale
Lampre’s Michele Scarponi had a smile for the camera.
Venaria Reale
‘Shorty’ saddles are required for smaller riders, to keep their positions UCI legal. (click for the full image)
Venaria Reale
Neat hidden brakes on the Rabo Giant TCR’s.
Venaria Reale
Movistar start.

The start was in a beautiful old courtyard but from there on was a ‘boulevard blast’ into the city, long straights but with a few tricky corners and tram lines.

We’d hoped to follow a team, but the race organisation wouldn’t allow it – only team and race organisation vehicles were to be seen on the corsa.

We settled for watching the race at half distance, on a little rise at the end of a long straight.

Venaria Reale
HTC pass at the speed of a train.

The winning HTC team’s speed for the 19.3 K was in excess of 55 kph – that says it all really.

Just on visual you could see that Cav and his boys were moving faster: we had them ten seconds clear.

Teams like AG2R and Euskaltel who were off the pace seemed pedestrian in comparison.

Venaria Reale
Saxo take Bert to 8th team, half a minute back.
Venaria Reale
11th place for Movistar as they blast along the undulations.
Venaria Reale
Radioshack only 10 seconds back, in second place.
Venaria Reale
Garmin head for 5th at 24 seconds.

As we piloted the Peugeot through the throng to fight on foot through the crowds up to the press room, out of those million revellers, a head popped in through the car window; Andreas Muller, Six Day star, having a bit of a break after the Worlds; ‘I was just thinking, “I wonder if Ed’s here?” he told us.

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Andreas and Jimmy – file under; ‘it’s a small world!’
Venaria Reale
Lampre did a good ride for 6th place, 24 seconds down.

But the looks on the faces of the riders whose spell had just finished and were trying to get back on the string spoke volumes.

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It’s hard at the back.

It was a real struggle to get back to the press room, it’s about the most people I’ve ever seen in the one place at the one time – even more hectic than the Tour de France finish.

The press room was busy, hot and as unfriendly as usual – unless you were the pretty wee Spanish lass in front of us with the nice skin and ‘strappy’ summer dress on.

There were plenty of smiles and chat for her.

The wi-fi on the Giro used to be free, now it’s 18 Euros per day, or a ‘bargain’ 250 for the whole race – grim.

But the pictures flew and then so did we, back to Chivasso for pizza and a clean bed.

Day one done – and let’s hope that our battles with the Alpini are behind us, ciao, ciao.

Venaria Reale Result

1 HTC-Highroad 0:20:59
2 Team RadioShack 0:00:10
3 Liquigas-Cannondale 0:00:22
4 Omega Pharma-Lotto
5 Team Garmin-Cervelo 0:00:24
6 Lampre-ISD
7 Rabobank Cycling Team 0:00:26
8 Saxo Bank Sungard 0:00:30
9 Sky Procycling 0:00:37
10 Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team
11 Movistar Team 0:00:38
12 Androni Giocattoli 0:00:39
13 BMC Racing Team 0:00:41
14 Leopard Trek 0:00:42
15 Quickstep Cycling Team
16 AG2R La Mondiale 0:00:49
17 Pro Team Astana 0:00:50
18 Geox-TMC 0:00:53
19 Colnago-CSF Inox 0:01:02
20 Katusha Team 0:01:04
21 Farnese Vini-Neri Sottoli 0:01:07
22 Acqua & Sapone
23 Euskaltel-Euskadi 0:01:13

Venaria Reale
One of the Liquigas lovelies.

General classification after stage 1

1 Marco Pinotti (Ita) HTC-Highroad 0:20:59
2 Lars Ytting Bak (Den) HTC-Highroad
3 Kanstantsin Sivtsov (Blr) HTC-Highroad
4 Mark Cavendish (GBr) HTC-Highroad
5 Craig Lewis (USA) HTC-Highroad
6 Robbie McEwen (Aus) Team RadioShack 0:00:10
7 Tiago Machado (Por) Team RadioShack
8 Fumiyuki Beppu (Jpn) Team RadioShack
9 Bjorn Selander (USA) Team RadioShack
10 Robert Hunter (RSA) Team RadioShack
11 Philip Deignan (Irl) Team RadioShack
12 Yaroslav Popovych (Ukr) Team RadioShack
13 Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Liquigas-Cannondale 0:00:22
14 Valerio Agnoli (Ita) Liquigas-Cannondale
15 Fabio Sabatini (Ita) Liquigas-Cannondale
16 Sylvester Szmyd (Pol) Liquigas-Cannondale
17 Tiziano Dall’Antonia (Ita) Liquigas-Cannondale
18 Eros Capecchi (Ita) Liquigas-Cannondale
19 Alessandro Vanotti (Ita) Liquigas-Cannondale
20 Jussi Veikkanen (Fin) Omega Pharma-Lotto
21 Klaas Lodewyck (Bel) Omega Pharma-Lotto
22 Sebastian Lang (Ger) Omega Pharma-Lotto
23 Francis De Greef (Bel) Omega Pharma-Lotto
24 Jan Bakelandts (Bel) Omega Pharma-Lotto
25 Gert Dockx (Bel) Omega Pharma-Lotto
26 Bart De Clercq (Bel) Omega Pharma-Lotto
27 Olivier Kaisen (Bel) Omega Pharma-Lotto
28 Mark Renshaw (Aus) HTC-Highroad 0:00:24
29 Tyler Farrar (USA) Team Garmin-Cervelo
30 Christophe Le Mevel (Fra) Team Garmin-Cervelo
31 Murilo Antonio Fischer (Bra) Team Garmin-Cervelo
32 David Millar (GBr) Team Garmin-Cervelo
33 Cameron Meyer (Aus) Team Garmin-Cervelo
34 Michele Scarponi (Ita) Lampre – ISD
35 Alessandro Petacchi (Ita) Lampre – ISD
36 Simon Spilak (Slo) Lampre – ISD
37 Diego Ulissi (Ita) Lampre – ISD
38 Przemyslaw Niemiec (Pol) Lampre – ISD
39 Danilo Hondo (Ger) Lampre – ISD
40 Tom Jelte Slagter (Ned) Rabobank Cycling Team 0:00:26
41 Stef Clement (Ned) Rabobank Cycling Team
42 Dennis Van Winden (Ned) Rabobank Cycling Team
43 Pieter Weening (Ned) Rabobank Cycling Team
44 Rick Flens (Ned) Rabobank Cycling Team
45 Bram Tankink (Ned) Rabobank Cycling Team
46 Jos Van Emden (Ned) Rabobank Cycling Team
47 Steven Kruijswijk (Ned) Rabobank Cycling Team
48 Graeme Brown (Aus) Rabobank Cycling Team
49 Matteo Tosatto (Ita) Saxo Bank Sungard 0:00:30
50 Richie Porte (Aus) Saxo Bank Sungard
51 Alberto Contador Velasco (Spa) Saxo Bank Sungard
52 Volodymir Gustov (Ukr) Saxo Bank Sungard
53 Michael Mørkøv (Den) Saxo Bank Sungard
54 Laurent Didier (Lux) Saxo Bank Sungard
55 Daniel Navarro Garcia (Spa) Saxo Bank Sungard
56 Kasper Klostergaard Larsen (Den) Saxo Bank Sungard 0:00:32
57 Jesús Hernandez Blazquez (Spa) Saxo Bank Sungard
58 Peter Kennaugh (GBr) Sky Procycling 0:00:37
59 Davide Appollonio (Ita) Sky Procycling
60 Dario David Cioni (Ita) Sky Procycling
61 Lars Petter Nordhaug (Nor) Sky Procycling
62 Thomas Lövkvist (Swe) Sky Procycling
63 Michael Barry (Can) Sky Procycling
64 Borut Bozic (Slo) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team
65 Sergey Lagutin (Uzb) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team
66 Matteo Carrara (Ita) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team
67 Michal Golas (Pol) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team
68 Maxim Belkov (Rus) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team
69 Ignatas Konovalovas (Ltu) Movistar Team 0:00:38
70 Vasili Kiryienka (Blr) Movistar Team
71 Luis Pasamontes Rodriguez (Spa) Movistar Team
72 Pablo Lastras Garcia (Spa) Movistar Team
73 David Arroyo Duran (Spa) Movistar Team
74 Francisco José Ventoso Alberdi (Spa) Movistar Team
75 Sergio Pardilla Belllón (Spa) Movistar Team
76 Branislau Samoilau (Blr) Movistar Team
77 Emanuele Sella (Ita) Androni Giocattoli 0:00:39
78 Roberto Ferrari (Ita) Androni Giocattoli
79 Jose Rodolfo Serpa Perez (Col) Androni Giocattoli
80 Alessandro De Marchi (Ita) Androni Giocattoli
81 Jackson Rodriguez (Ven) Androni Giocattoli
82 Angel Vicioso Arcos (Spa) Androni Giocattoli
83 José Rujano Guillen (Ven) Androni Giocattoli
84 Carlos José Ochoa (Ven) Androni Giocattoli
85 Mirko Selvaggi (Ita) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team
86 Alexander Kristoff (Nor) BMC Racing Team 0:00:41
87 Simon Zahner (Swi) BMC Racing Team
88 Chris Barton (USA) BMC Racing Team
89 Martin Kohler (Swi) BMC Racing Team
90 Danilo Wyss (Swi) BMC Racing Team
91 Johann Tschopp (Swi) BMC Racing Team
92 Chris Butler (USA) BMC Racing Team
93 Mathias Frank (Swi) BMC Racing Team
94 Chad Beyer (USA) BMC Racing Team
95 Johnny Hoogerland (Ned) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team
96 Frederik Veuchelen (Bel) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team
97 Alberto Ongarato (Ita) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team
98 Wouter Weylandt (Bel) Leopard Trek 0:00:42
99 Davide Vigano (Ita) Leopard Trek
100 Thomas Rohregger (Aut) Leopard Trek
101 Oliver Zaugg (Swi) Leopard Trek
102 Fabian Wegmann (Ger) Leopard Trek
103 Bruno Pires (Por) Leopard Trek
104 Tom Stamsnijder (Ned) Leopard Trek
105 Brice Feillu (Fra) Leopard Trek
106 Addy Engels (Ned) Quickstep Cycling Team
107 Francesco Reda (Ita) Quickstep Cycling Team
108 Jérôme Pineau (Fra) Quickstep Cycling Team
109 Kristof Vandewalle (Bel) Quickstep Cycling Team
110 Dario Cataldo (Ita) Quickstep Cycling Team
111 Davide Malacarne (Ita) Quickstep Cycling Team
112 Kevin Seeldraeyers (Bel) Quickstep Cycling Team
113 Francesco Chicchi (Ita) Quickstep Cycling Team
114 Gerald Ciolek (Ger) Quickstep Cycling Team
115 Carlos Oyarzun (Chi) Movistar Team
116 Dominic Klemme (Ger) Leopard Trek 0:00:46
117 Cyril Dessel (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale 0:00:49
118 Yuriy Krivtsov (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale
119 Hubert Dupont (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale
120 Rinaldo Nocentini (Ita) AG2R La Mondiale
121 Matteo Montaguti (Ita) AG2R La Mondiale
122 John Gadret (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale
123 Ben Gastauer (Lux) AG2R La Mondiale
124 Julien Berard (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale
125 Roman Kreuziger (Cze) Pro Team Astana 0:00:50
126 Francesco Masciarelli (Ita) Pro Team Astana
127 Josep Jufre Pou (Spa) Pro Team Astana
128 Alexsandr Dyachenko (Kaz) Pro Team Astana
129 Paolo Tiralongo (Ita) Pro Team Astana
130 Robert Kiserlovski (Cro) Pro Team Astana
131 Evgeny Petrov (Rus) Pro Team Astana
132 Frantisek Rabon (Cze) HTC-Highroad
133 Patrick Gretsch (Ger) HTC-Highroad
134 Denis Menchov (Rus) Geox-TMC 0:00:53
135 Rafael Valls Ferri (Spa) Geox-TMC
136 David Blanco Rodriguez (Spa) Geox-TMC
137 Carlos Sastre Candil (Spa) Geox-TMC
138 Marcel Wyss (Swi) Geox-TMC
139 Fabio Andres Duarte Arevalo (Col) Geox-TMC
140 Mauricio Ardila Cano (Col) Geox-TMC
141 Filippo Savini (Ita) Colnago – CSF Inox 0:01:02
142 Domenico Pozzovivo (Ita) Colnago – CSF Inox
143 Gianluca Brambilla (Ita) Colnago – CSF Inox
144 Federico Canuti (Ita) Colnago – CSF Inox
145 Stefano Pirazzi (Ita) Colnago – CSF Inox
146 Sacha Modolo (Ita) Colnago – CSF Inox
147 Marco Frapporti (Ita) Colnago – CSF Inox
148 Manuel Belletti (Ita) Colnago – CSF Inox
149 Alessandro Spezialetti (Ita) Lampre – ISD
150 Daniele Righi (Ita) Lampre – ISD
151 Marco Marzano (Ita) Lampre – ISD
152 Joaquím Rodríguez Oliver (Spa) Katusha Team 0:01:04
153 Daniel Moreno Fernandez (Spa) Katusha Team
154 Eduard Vorganov (Rus) Katusha Team
155 Pavel Brutt (Rus) Katusha Team
156 Danilo Di Luca (Ita) Katusha Team
157 Giampaolo Caruso (Ita) Katusha Team
158 Carlos Alberto Betancourt Gomez (Col) Acqua & Sapone 0:01:07
159 Stefano Garzelli (Ita) Acqua & Sapone
160 Ruggero Marzoli (Ita) Acqua & Sapone
161 Fabio Taborre (Ita) Acqua & Sapone
162 Massimo Codol (Ita) Acqua & Sapone
163 Danilo Napolitano (Ita) Acqua & Sapone
164 Vladimir Miholjevic (Cro) Acqua & Sapone
165 Kjell Carlström (Fin) Sky Procycling
166 Giovanni Visconti (Ita) Farnese Vini – Neri Sottoli
167 Elia Favilli (Ita) Farnese Vini – Neri Sottoli
168 Matteo Rabottini (Ita) Farnese Vini – Neri Sottoli
169 Francesco Failli (Ita) Farnese Vini – Neri Sottoli
170 Luca Mazzanti (Ita) Farnese Vini – Neri Sottoli
171 Oscar Gatto (Ita) Farnese Vini – Neri Sottoli
172 Davide Ricci Bitti (Ita) Farnese Vini – Neri Sottoli
173 Andrea Noe (Ita) Farnese Vini – Neri Sottoli
174 Dmitry Kozontchuk (Rus) Geox-TMC 0:01:09
175 Jorge Azanza Soto (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi 0:01:13
176 Daniel Sesma (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi
177 Mikel Nieve Ituralde (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi
178 Igor Anton Hernandez (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi
179 Juan José Oroz Ugalde (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi
180 Inaki Isasi Flores (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi
181 Miguel Minguez Ayala (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi 0:01:15
182 Giampaolo Cheula (Ita) Geox-TMC 0:01:16
183 Gorazd Stangelj (Slo) Pro Team Astana 0:01:27
184 Russell Downing (GBr) Sky Procycling
185 Alan Marangoni (Ita) Liquigas-Cannondale 0:01:33
186 Adam Blythe (GBr) Omega Pharma-Lotto 0:01:47
187 Alex Rasmussen (Den) HTC-Highroad 0:01:54
188 Peter Stetina (USA) Team Garmin-Cervelo 0:01:56
189 Brett Lancaster (Aus) Team Garmin-Cervelo
190 Leonardo Giordani (Ita) Farnese Vini – Neri Sottoli 0:02:02
191 Morris Possoni (Ita) Sky Procycling 0:02:05
192 Claudio Corioni (Ita) Acqua & Sapone 0:02:27
193 Cayetano José Sarmiento Tunarrosa (Col) Acqua & Sapone
194 Maxim Gourov (Kaz) Pro Team Astana 0:02:34
195 Matthew Wilson (Aus) Team Garmin-Cervelo 0:02:38
196 Cristiano Salerno (Ita) Liquigas-Cannondale 0:02:43
197 Giairo Ermeti (Ita) Androni Giocattoli 0:02:52
198 Alberto Losada Alguacil (Spa) Katusha Team 0:02:53
199 Manuel Antonio Leal Cardoso (Por) Team RadioShack 0:03:16
200 Mikael Cherel (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale 0:03:17
201 Pierre Cazaux (Fra) Euskaltel-Euskadi 0:03:35
202 Simone Stortoni (Ita) Colnago – CSF Inox 0:03:43
203 Juan Horrach Rippoll (Spa) Katusha Team 0:03:58
204 Aliaksandr Kuchynski (Blr) Katusha Team
205 Ivan Rovny (Rus) Team RadioShack 0:04:09
206 Thomas Peterson (USA) Team Garmin-Cervelo 0:04:20
207 Javier Francisco Aramendia Lorente (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi 0:04:23

Venaria Reale
Wonder what old chums Brian and Dave are plotting?