Sky, BMC Racing and all the strong time trial squads have invested time in the 33.2-kilometre Giro d'Italia team time trial that they'll confront in Verona today. With a strong ride, Sky's Geraint Thomas could make the nine-second leap and over take Taylor Phinney (BMC Racing) for the pink jersey.
"It'd be nice, just to be in that position," Thomas told Cycling Weekly. "We'll go flat out, but so will Garmin, GreenEdge and BMC. It will be like the Tour de France last year, when it was so close."
The fourth stage is open to the teams, closed to Veronese traffic, from 13:30 to 14:30 for training. Sky trained near its hotel in Mantova yesterday and is due to inspect parts of the course in the early afternoon slot.
The course heads northwest of town to Corrubbio, where it rises from 70 metres to 172 metres. It climbs at an average of three to four per cent to kilometre 12.7, with a wall of six per cent for 500 metres.
The road turns a few times, including a 90° left, on the way down, but for the last 11 kilometres are fast. The finish is in Piazza Bra, outside the Roman Arena where Ivan Basso (Liquigas-Cannondale) won the overall two years ago.
"We won in Trentino, so our confidence is high," said Marco Pinotti (BMC Racing), who led HTC to the win last year in Turin. "I think we will be one of the top teams."
BMC will be at a disadvantage as Phinney hurt his ankle in a crash on Monday.
According to newspaper La Gazzetta dello Sport, Liquigas rode the climb and its descent twice yesterday. Garmin held a 12-minute meeting at the foot of the climb.
Orica-GreenEdge won the Tirreno-Adriatico time trial in March. Yesterday, the team drove into Verona and set its riders free to ride one lap. Sports director, Matt White told the Sydney Morning Herald that he was concerned with the out and back since the teams will be coming in opposite directions. Cones divide the road from 1.2 to 9.0km and from 21.8 to 29.5km.
Orica's Brett Lancaster sits only 23 seconds back from Phinney in the overall classification. He won the opening time trial in 2005 and wore the pink jersey for one day.
"We can beat BMC by 23 seconds; but can we beat Garmin and Sky by 10 seconds?" White said. "That's going to be the tricky one."
Team time trials: The stats
Mark Cavendish and Pinotti helped HTC-Highroad win the time trial last year with an average speed of 55.186km/h in 19.3 kilometres. CSC holds the record at the Giro, in 2006 going 56.86 km/h.
After a hiatus of just over 15 years, Giro organiser RCS Sport has used the team event every year since 2006. The second big run was 30 years ago, from 1981 to 1989. Prior to that, the organiser used it three times from 1954 to 1956. However, the first one was in 1937, team Legnano won with an average of 43.91 km/h over 60 kilometres from Viareggio to Marina di Massa.
1937: Viareggio - Marina di Massa - 60km, at 43.902 km/h (Legnano)
1953: Autodromo di Modena - 30km, at 47.729 km/h (Bianchi)
1954: Circuito Monte Pellegrino (Palermo) - 36km, at 42.942 km/h (Bianchi)
1955: Genova - Genova - 18.4km, at 46.674 km/h (Torpado)
1956: Genova - Genova - 12km, at 43.910 km/h (Leo - Chlorodont)
1981: Lignano - Bibione, 15km, at 51.282 km/h (Hoonved - Bottecchia)
1982: Milano - Milano, 16km, at 50.130 km/h (Renault)
1983: Brescia - Mantova, 70km, at 53.984 km/h (Bianchi Piaggio)
1984: Lucca - Marina di Pietrasanta, 55km, at 51.388 km/h (Renault)
1985: Busto Arsizio - Milano, 38km, at 54.545 km/h (Del Tongo - Colnago)
1986: Catania - Taormina, 50km, at 46.260 km/h (Del Tongo - Colnago)
1987: Lerici - Lido di Camaiore, 43km, at 54.486 km/h (Carrera)
1988: Rodi Garganico - Vieste, 40km, at 47.524 km/h (Del Tongo - Colnago)
1989: Villafranca Tirrena - Messina, 32.5km, at 52.702 Km/h (Ariostea)
2006: Piacenza - Cremona, 35km at 56.860 km/h (CSC)
2007: Caprera - La Maddalena, 25.6km at 45.670 km/h (Liquigas)
2008: Palermo - Palermo, 23.6km at 53.366 km/h (Slipstream Chipolte)
2009: Lido di Venezia - 20.5km at 56.336 km/h (Team Columbia)
2010: Savigliano - Cuneo, 33km at 54.073 km/h (Liquigas - Doimo)
2011: Venaria Reale - Torino, 19.3km at 55.186 km/h (HTC - Highroad)
LIVE: Giro d'Italia 2012 coverage
Giro d'Italia 2012: Latest news
Phinney given all-clear after Giro crash
Ferrari should be ashamed of Giro sprint, says Cavendish
Giro remembers Wouter Weylandt
Cavendish and Thomas a winning combo, says Brailsford
Geraint Thomas narrowly misses out on Giro lead
Phinney realises Giro dream
Thomas and Phinney talk Giro d'Italia time trial
Kennaugh enters Giro with least amount of racing miles
Cavendish faces first Grand Tour as World Champ and father
Frank Schleck's last minute Giro adventure
Swift out of Giro after training crash
Giro d'Italia 2012: Who will win?
Sky to battle for Giro's team time trial
Hesjedal aims for Giro win
Giro d'Italia 2012: Start list
Cavendish, Thomas, Kennaugh, Swift and Stannard for Giro
Giro d'Italia 2012: Jerseys unveiled
Giro d'Italia organiser announces wildcard teams for 2012
Giro d'Italia 2012 route revealed
Giro d'Italia 2012: Live coverage
Giro d'Italia 2012 live text coverage schedule
Giro d'Italia 2012: Stage reports
Stage three: Goss wins in Horsens as Cavendish and Phinney crash
Stage two: Cavendish wins in Herning
Stage one: Phinney wins time trial
Giro d'Italia 2012: Photo galleries
Stage three photo gallery
Stage two photo gallery
Stage one photo gallery
Giro d'Italia 2012: Teams and riders
Giro d'Italia 2012 start list
Giro d'Italia 2012: TV guide
Giro d'Italia 2012: British Eurosport TV schedule
Giro d'Italia 2012: The Big Preview
Cycling Weekly's Giro d'Italia section
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