2012 Giro d'Italia to start in Denmark

COPENHAGEN, Denmark -- The 2012 Giro d'Italia will start in western Denmark.

The Giro will begin with a prologue in Herning on May 5, followed the day after with a second stage in the flat hinterland with a start and finish in Herning, Giacomo Catano of race organizer RCS Sport said on Friday.

The riders will move to the nearby city of Horsens for a third stage before transferring to complete the rest of the race in Italy.

In 2010, the Giro started with a time trial in Amsterdam. This year's edition starts in Turin.

Herning Mayor Lars Krarup said the city had also tried to attract the start of the Tour de France but in vain.

His colleague from Horsens, Jan Trojborg, said getting the Giro was "huge for us."

Herning, 170 miles west of Copenhagen, is the hometown of team Saxo Bank-Sungard owner Bjarne Riis, who in 2007 admitted using performance-enhancing drugs to win the 1996 Tour de France.

The Saxo Bank-Sungard squad has been invited to this year's Giro, and its top rider, Alberto Contador, plans to make it his first major three-week race since the Spanish cycling federation cleared the Tour de France champion of doping.

The World Anti-Doping Agency and International Cycling Union have appealed Contador's acquittal. The Spaniard can continue racing until the Court of Arbitration for Sport issues a ruling.

The third-tier Continental team of disgraced former Tour de France leader Michael Rasmussen also was based in this city.

"It would be great to have it start here below our office windows," Rasmussen said in a TV interview.