Anna van der Breggen will begin the defence of her Giro d'Italia Internazionale Femminile title by tackling a two kilometre prologue in Gaiarine as the stage race 10-day stage race gets underway tomorrow.
The Dutch rider showed her ability against the clock in last year’s event with a stage eight individual time trial victory setting her up to claim the overall race win in Grand Tour.
Van der Breggen’s title defence is expected to be put to the test by world champion Lizzie Armitstead.
The Briton comes into the race fresh from having claimed the general classification at the Aviva Women’s Tour earlier this month.
Having also earned victories at Strade Bianche, Trofeo Alfredo Binda-Cittiglio and the Tour of Flanders, Armitstead currently lies second in the overall International Cycling Union (UCI) Women’s WorldTour standings.
Her Boels-Dolmans team-mate Megan Guarnier currently tops the series and the American will target further success at the Giro d'Italia Internazionale Femminile.
She won the second stage last year on route to a third place finish.
Mara Abbott will be another American challenger at the race, with the two-time winner heading into the race with the knowledge she will be representing her country at this year's Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.
“It’s hard for me to even think about the Olympics with the Giro coming in just a few days,” the Wiggle High5 rider said.
“It is an incredible honour to be selected for Rio – I can’t even really believe it still.
"But the Giro is why I am still a cyclist, I could be coy but I absolutely love this race and the experiences it has already given me mean the world to me.
“Basically, if I am allowed any caffeine between now and August my head might explode due to excitement.”
After tomorrow’s prologue, the peloton will complete nine stages and will have covered 858km when the race is due to finish on July 10.
The fifth and sixth stages of the race are expected to be key in deciding the overall winner, with mountain finishes at Tirano and the Madonna della Guardia in Alassio.
A 22km individual time trial on stage seven will offer specialists the opportunity to gain time on their rivals the following day in Varazze.