The organisers of the Giro d?Italia, RCS Sport, has confirmed that the 2009 race the centenary edition of the Italian stage race, will start in Venice on May 9.

As Cycling Weekly reported on October 20, the opening stage will be a 21km team time trial up and down the Venice Lido, the strip of land that protects Venice from the currents of the Adriatic sea. The same roads hosted the start of the 1997 Giro when Mario Cipollini beat Nicola Minali in a sprint finish.

The 21km team time trial course is flat and fast, with just five corners in the whole route. It looks perfect for Jonathan Vaughter?s Garmin team who won the short team time trial in Palermo at this year?s Giro d?Italia and could also suit Lance Armstrong and his Astana team as the Texan begins the first major stage races of his comeback.

CADEL EVANS AND ROCK RACING TO RIDE 2009 GIRO?

According to Friday?s Gazzetta dello Sport newspaper, other contenders for the Giro include Ivan Basso (Liquigas), who will target the Giro after his ban for doping, Damiano Cunego (Lampre) and Tour de France winner Carlos Sastre (Cervelo).

Gazzetta also listed Cadel Evans (Silence) as a Giro contender but this is the first time the Australian?s name has been linked to the 2009 Giro.

Spain?s Oscar Sevilla has hinted that the Rock Racing team is close to securing a place in the Giro d?Italia, according to a report on Italian website tuttobiciweb.it. However with so many small Italian teams also fighting for places in the centenary Giro d?Italia, it seems unlikely that the US team will be invited.

World champion Alessandro Ballan (Lampre) will also ride and was set to attend a second presentation of the Venice start on Friday afternoon. So far only the opening stage and the official team presentation in St Mark?s square have been confirmed. However the Giro is expected to end in Rome on May 31 to celebrate the centenary of the race.

Other key stages are expected to be in Austria, the Italian Alps, the central Apennines hills, with a final mountain top finish at the summit of the Vesuvio volcano overlooking Naples. The Giro is expected to finish with an individual time trial to the centre of Rome.

The official presentation of the full 2009 Giro d’Italia route is expected to be held in Venice on December 13.

RELATED LINKS

2009 Tour de France route announced

Monday’s international news round-up – includes list of 2009 Giro stages