Pete Kennaugh will lead Team Sky out of the Reggia di Venaria Real at the start of the Giro d'Italia's opening team time trial tomorrow afternoon.
The Briton has been chosen for what, according to Sky's coach Bobby Julich, is the most important job of the day. "You don't win the race in any corner, but at the start you can definitely put the guys in the red quicker if you do it poorly." Julich said.
Essentially any rider could lead the team, but Julich believes the best way to start is for a smooth build-up to top speed rather than an all out sprint away from the line. "You're still going to get away fast, but [would] you get away fast and correctly without putting anybody under un-needed stress?"
The 21-year-old Brit gets the honour thanks to his track background giving him the ability to take the team of nine smoothly up to top speed. "He has so much class, he comes off the track and has experience building it up to speed quickly," Julich said. "The guys behind him are going to have to maintain and then up that speed from there."
"I can't wait to race tomorrow," Kennaugh said. "It's the one stage I've really been looking forward too, even if it is just first stage. It's only a couple of hundred metres to progressively get them up to speed, and then maybe do a few seconds at that speed and then peel off. But with me doing all the track work in th winter means I'm the type of rider who can take the start a bit better. I'm used to that fast acceleration you need for the team pursuit."
The team will hold a single file line through the narrow streets of Venaria Real, a suburb of Turin, but once out of the town the roads open up and a more traditional double pace line will form with the riders rotating in a chain.
Julich reconnoitred the course back in March and has briefed the riders on how to ride it. The riders drove the course in the team cars ahead of the team presentation on Firday evening and will ride the course once on Saturday morning.
The 19.3km is tight for the first and last kilometres with some corners and gentle cobbles thrown in to add to the spectacle.
Two years ago HTC-Highroad (then Columbia-Highroad) won the opening team time trial ahead of Garmin, putting Mark Cavendish in pink - the first Briton to wear the race leader's jersey.
Last year Bradley Wiggins became the second Brit to wear the Maglia Rosa when he won the opening prologue, an individual time trial. Whoever leads the winning team over the finish line in Turin tomorrow will wear the first leaders jersey of the 2011 event.
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Editor of Cycling Weekly magazine, Simon has been working at the title since 2001. He fell in love with cycling when channel surfing in 1989 and happening across the greatest ever edition of the Tour de France. He's been a Greg LeMond fan ever since. He started racing in 1995 when moving to university in North Wales gave him more time to train and some amazing roads to train on. He raced domestically for several years, riding everything from Surrey leagues to time trials, track and even a few Premier Calendars. In 2000 he spent one season racing in Belgium with the Kingsnorth International Wheelers.
Since working for Cycling Weekly he has written product reviews, fitness features, pro interviews, race coverage and news. He has covered the Tour de France more times than he can remember along with two Olympic Games and many other international and UK domestic races. He can still be seen at his club's evening races through the summer but he still hasn't completed the CW5000 challenge!
SIMON IS CURRENTLY RIDING
Road bike: Pinarello K8S with Shimano Dura Ace
TT bike: Specialized Venge road bike with FFWD wheels and Easton Attack TT bars
Gravel bike: N/A
Training bike: Rourke custom hand made with Reynolds 853 steel
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