Photo gallery: countdown in Belfast to the Grande Partenza of the 2014 Giro d'Italia
The bikes, the sights, the crowds and more from the Northern Ireland capital's Titantic Quarter
by Timothy John
With the Grande Partenza of the 2014 Giro d'Italia just hours away, the teams arrived en masse in Belfast's Titantic Quarter.
Mechanics made final adjustments to their charge's low profile steeds, while technicians worked frantically to complete the start ramp in the shadow of Titanic Belfast, the £80m, Eric Kuhne-designed structure, opened just over a year ago.
Thousands of cycling fans seized the opportunity for a close up view of the machinery on which the teams will compete for the chance of victory on the 21.7km course, which passes the parliamentary buildings at Stormont Castle en route to Belfast city centre.
With machines fettled, team staff made their way in large groups to the scrutineering area behind the start ramp, each mechanic wheeling two bicycles to reduce the number of trips from team truck to control.
Riders were conspicuously absent, most of them resting at their hotels after the morning's recee ride. Katusha's Joaquim Rodriguez, the world number one, and Belgium's Lotto Belisol squad were among those RCUK watched roll out early from their hotel, a few miles outside the city.
Follow us on Twitter from 5.30pm for a live commentary of the team time trial and check back later for a report of the race. In the meantime, whet your appetite with this gallery from the hours leading to the start of the 97th Giro d'Italia.