Let the Grand Tour season begin! This Saturday, Universal Sports will begin coverage of the 94th annual Giro d’Italia. While we may miss the Bobke, it will be nice to catch this with my over-the-air HD antenna. Read on for details.

May 5, 2011—Los Angeles, CA—Universal Sports presents over 45 hours of LIVE comprehensive coverage of the 2011 Giro d’Italia Grand Tour cycling event. The network will cover the race on its television, on-line and mobile platforms beginning this Saturday, May 7 at 9:30 a.m. ET. The 94th annual race will feature many of the world’s top riders as they battle across 1,500 miles through mountainous Italy with the hope of obtaining each day’s coveted prize, the “Maglia Rosa,” Giro’s pink leader jersey.

Universal Sports will have daily live coverage of every stage, including a post-race report, and primetime re-airs nightly at 8:00 pm ET. On the two rest days, the network will air the “Giro Race Review” show, featuring highlights of the race so far and an analysis of upcoming challenges. The broadcast team consists of Steve Schlanger on play-by-play and Todd Gogulski, former teammate of Lance Armstrong and Greg LeMond, serving as the network’s cycling analyst.

The network’s digital platform, UniversalSports.com, will offer the ultimate online experience for cycling fans with live, pay-per-view coverage of the complete race that will include athlete profiles, expert analysis, highlights, photos and recaps. Universal Sports’ Facebook page will host a free viewing party of stage one on Saturday, May 7 at 9:30am ET and fans will get the opportunity to LIVE chat with Brent Bookwalter from the BMC Racing Team.

Alberto Contador of Spain enters the 2011 Giro d’Italia in search of his sixth Grand Tour title. He won the Giro d’Italia and the Vuelta á Espana in 2008 and then went on to win the Tour de France in 2010. During that Tour win, however, the Spaniard tested positive for a banned substance and was suspended from competition. He’s since been cleared of wrongdoing by the Spanish Cycling Federation, but the UCI (cycling’s governing body) and WADA (World Anti-doping Agency) have appealed to the Court of Arbitration for Sport. The CAS said it will make a final decision before the 2011 Tour de France.

With reigning champion Ivan Basso concentrating on other races, 2009 champion Denis Menchov will look to join an elite field of riders to win the Giro d’Italia more than once. Italians Stefano Garzelli, Michele Scarponi and Basso’s teammate, Vincenzo Nibali, will all look to keep the pink jersey in Italy.

Highlighting the 2011 Giro field for the Americans are sprinter Tyler Farrar (Garmin-Cervelo), climber Craig Lewis (HTC-Highroad), Chad Beyer (BMC) and Peter Setina (Garmin-Cervelo). Farrar will look to take home the coveted sprinter’s title. He is considered one of the fastest sprinters in the field and won two Stages during the 2010 Giro d’Italia. However, the American will face strong competition from Britain’s Mark Cavendish of HTC-Highroad, who won multiple sprint stages in both the Tour de France and Vuelta á Espana last year. With Cavendish’s speed and Lewis’ strength as a climber, HTC Highroad could be a strong contender for the overall team win. Beyer and Setina will be making their Grand Tour competition debut and look to be solid contributors to their respective teams.

Universal Sports’ complete cycling coverage includes more than 10 premier road cycling races, including two of the three Grand Tours of cycling—Giro d’Italia and Vuelta á Espana—as well as many other UCI Championships and World Cup races in road cycling, track, mountain bike and cyclocross. A complete schedule of all Universal Sports cycling programming is available at universalsports.com/cycling.

Universal Sports, a partnership between NBC Sports and InterMedia Partners, LP, is the premier multi-platform media destination for Olympic-related sports programming in the United States. Universal Sports is available in 52 markets nationwide, including all of the nation’s top 10 media markets and 20 of the top 25. Major world championship sports events aired on Universal Sports include track and field, skiing, swimming, gymnastics, marathons, figure skating, cycling and rugby. The network’s website, UniversalSports.com, delivers an immersive user experience via live and on-demand competition coverage, interaction with top athletes through interviews and blogs and in-depth access to Olympic sports news and information year-round. For more information, please visit UniversalSports.com.

About Author

A native of the Pacific Northwest, Jason quickly developed a love for the outdoors and a thing for mountains. That infatuation continues as he founded this site in 1999 -- sharing his love of road biking, mountain biking, trail running and skiing. That passion is channeled into every article or gear review he writes. Utah's Wasatch Mountains are his playground.

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