Lance Armstrong Astana press conference Tenerife Dec 08

Lance Armstrong was not at the Giro presentation in Venice on Saturday but gave his impressions on the route in a video message posted on the website of the Gazzetta dello Sport newspaper.

Click here to see Armstrong?s message.

Armstrong named Italy?s Ivan Basso as favourite for overall victory but the Italian played down a possible head to head rivalry with the American, predicing that six or seven riders could win the 2009 Giro.

?There?s a lot of talk of a duel between me and Armstrong but the Giro won?t be just about us two, at least six or seven riders could win it. There are riders like Sastre who will be at another level after winning the Tour, there's Simoni, Cunego, Di Luca and even Evans if he rides? Basso said at the presentation.

?The 2009 Giro will be more open than usual because it?s such a demanding route with tricky stages almost every day. The stage 12 time trial in the Cinque Terre will be important but so will the mountain stages in the last week and even the final time trial to Rome.?

Race organisers RCS Sport confirmed that the 2009 Giro d?Italia will start in Venice on May 9 with a 20.5km team time trial and end in Rome on May 31 with a 15.3km individual time trial. The total distance for the three-week race is 3395.5km with other key stages in the Alps between Cuneo and Pinerolo, in the Apennines with the climb to the summit of the Block Haus, and then on the slopes of Mount Vesuvius overlooking Naples.


2009 Giro route unveiled in Venice

Cycling Weekly's 2008 Giro coverage