HTC-Highroad on podium, Giro d'Italia 2011, stage one TTT

Downing avoids disastrous start

Russell Downing has been waiting for years for his chance to ride a Grand Tour, then, when he does, it almost goes wrong right at the start.

As Sky rolled down the start ramp in the team time trial yesterday, Thomas Lovkvist's SRM box fell off his bike. It hit the ground and bounced up hitting Downing right in the face. The force of the impact knocked off his Kask visor (they're held in place by magnets) and left him needing to adjust his helmet.

It took just a second to recover from the freak incident but in that time a gap opened up and he found himself chasing his eight team mates who were building up to full speed. It took him until the end of the long starting straight to catch them and put him immediately in the red.

Downing managed to recover but a last minute change in the order saw him take his turns right after Pete Kennaugh and Thomas Lofkvist. Following two of the faster riders took its toll and Downing eventually lost contact and finished on his own, losing 1.27 minutes

Minute's silence for Ferrero at start

The Giro started with a minute's silence this morning in Alba for Pietro Ferrero. Pietro died on April 18 of a heart attack while riding his bike in South Africa.

Pietro often followed cycling, enjoyed riding with Bergamo native and Giro winner, Ivan Gotti. He was Italy's richest person and owner of Europe's largest chocolate maker, Ferrero SpA. Ferrero's brands included Nutella, Tic Tacs and Estathé.

For the last 15 years, Pietro supported the Giro d'Italia via sponsorship of his Estathé brand on the pink jersey. Today, though, the paid tribute to him. His wife Luisa and three sons joined the tribute.

Race director, Angelo Zomegnan wrote: "We are always with you."

Goodyear takes flight

For almost all of the stages this year, the Goodyear blimp will fly above. It returns after nearly 15 years absence and promotes the tyres safety. Goodyear is sponsoring the Giro d'Italia and also the race's Bici Scuola, or Bike School, aimed at helping young children into cycling.

Cycling Weekly spotted it floating over Sebastian Lang (OmegaPharma-Lotto) for most of the day as he rode from Alba to Parma.

A Playboy in the Giro

If rubber tyres may not spark your interest then Playboy bunnies will. In addition to Goodyear, Playboy is sponsoring the race and placed its cars in the caravan. Each car has a special passenger, complete with a fluffy tail and ears. They received as much attention from the fans as the the 207 cyclists.

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Sky go red white and green

Team Sky's bus has a different look to it at the Giro d'Italia this year as they replaced the standard livery with a red, white and green logo to join in the 150 year unification celebrations going on round the county.

Last year Sky had to change the logos on all their vehicles whenever they raced in Italy - and used different kit - as the Sky Italia logo used a different font to the British one. They didn't go on the record with any comment last year, but to say it was a complete nightmare would be an understatement.

Sky Italia changed their logo to come into line with their British and German counterparts which meant the team didn't have to go through all the changes this year. Then they went for the tricolore and had to change it anyway. They also added 'Liberi di' (Sky Italy's version of the Believe in Better slogan) to the kit.

Pinotti V AC Milan

Well we thought that Marco Pinotti taking the first pink jersey of this year's Giro great news, sadly it was slightly overshadowed by some football team in Italy winning something or the other. Oh all right then, we'll concede that AC Milan are quite big news.

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TTTs at the Giro

Saturday's 19.3km team time trial from Veneria Real to Turin was the 19th in Giro history. The first one in 1937 was 60km long and was won by the Legnano team. After ttt's in 1954, 1955 and 1956 there was a 25 year hiatus until the next one in 1981.

Saturday's ttt was the third fastest at an average speed of 55.186 km/h. The fastest was in 2006 when CSC covered the 35km route from Piacenza to Cremona in 56.86 km/h. HTC, or Team Columbia as they were then, also recorded the second fastest ttt in Giro history in 2009, averaging 56.336 km/h on Lido di Venezia when they put Mark Cavendish in pink.

The Giro in numbers

Of the 207 starters in this year's race, 62 of them are Italian, that's 29.95% of the field. The next biggest representation is Spain, with 24. Briton has five riders, making just 2.41% of the field. Two teams have only Italian riders (Colnago - CSF INOX and Farnese Vini - Neri Sottoli) while seven teams don't have any Italian riders in their line-up.

Best of Twitter

@MarkCavendish: Anyone want to see @marcopinotti's pink helmet? My what filthy minds some of you have!

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