Lance Armstrong began his reconnaissance for the Giro d'Italia on Wednesday by checking out the roads for a key individual time trial.
The seven-time Tour de France champion has entered the May 9-31 Giro for the first time.
The Giro could be determined by stage 12 on May 21, a 61.7-kilometer (38.34-mile) race against the clock in the coastline area known as Cinque Terre.
"The Giro TT (time trial) is wicked hard," Armstrong wrote in his online Twitter. "Never, ever flat and 62 kms. Doubtful for riding the tt bike as well. And the descents ...?? Insane ..."
After three and a half years of retirement, Armstrong is also preparing for his first races back in Europe with Astana _ the Milan-San Remo single-day classic on March 21 and the five-stage Vuelta a Castilla y Leon in Spain three days later.
Armstrong is not likely to aim for victory in the Milan-San Remo, a 298-kilometer race (185-mile) often decided with a sprint finish.
"In theory, we don't have anyone (suited) for that race," Astana team spokesman Philippe Maertens said. "I honestly don't think it will be a race for us, but you never know."
Maertens said Armstrong could ride in support of Tomas Vaitkus, the Lithuanian road race champion.
As for Armstrong's schedule between the Castilla y Leon and the Giro, Maertens said that "for the moment nothing is decided."
In his first two comeback races, Armstrong finished 29th in the Tour Down Under in Australia and seventh in the Tour of California.