The route for the 2012 Tirreno-Adriatico was unveiled in San Vincenzo on Wednesday, with a summit finish at Prati di Tivo in Abruzzo on stage 5 the centrepiece of a well-balanced course.
As was the case last season, the race is book-ended by two time trials. The action gets underway on Wednesday, March 7 with a 16.9km team time trial in Tuscany, from San Vincenzo to Donoratico, and concludes the following Tuesday with a 9.3km individual effort in San Benedetto del Tronto on the Adriatic coast.
In between, sprinters and climbers alike will have an opportunity to divide up the spoils between them. The opening two road stages, to Indicatore and Terni, should favour the fast men, but the terrain becomes significantly more rugged thereafter, as the race heads into Abruzzo for the weekend.
Stage four sees a short but sharp uphill finish in Chieti, where Michele Scarponi jumped to stage victory last year. That finale comes after a day of constant ups and downs, including the Selle di Corno and the Passo Lanciano (20.8km at 4.7%) climbs, and at 252km in length, the stage should provide a useful exercise for riders preparing for the following weekend’s Milan-San Remo.
The next day brings the queen stage of the race, and overall contenders such as Cadel Evans, Michele Scarponi, Vincenzo Nibali and – perhaps – Alberto Contador will be expected to be to the fore on the final haul up to the 1450 metre high Prati di Tivo. The climb featured on the route of the 1975 Giro d'Italia, with Giovanni Battaglin triumphant at the summit. At 14.5km in length and with an average gradient of 7%, Prati di Tivo will pose a significant challenge this early in the season.
“I like the race a lot, and the stage to Prati di Tivo in particular is spectacular,” Michele Scarponi (Lampre-ISD) said at the presentation on Wednesday. “That’s a real climb and the harder the race is, the better it is for me. But I know that I’ll have to fight against two giants like Contador and Evans.”
After the hardship of the weekend, a rolling stage around Offida will pit the sprinters against the escapees, before the final time trial on March 13 around San Benedetto del Tronto, a town that has long been a staple of the Race Between the Two Seas.
Last year's Tirreno-Adriatico was won by Cadel Evans, ahead of Robert Gesink and Scarponi.
Tirreno-Adriatico, March 7-13:
Stage 1: San Vincenzo - Donoratico TTT 16.9 km
Stage 2: San Vincenzo - Indicatore, 230 km
Stage 3: Indicatore - Terni, 178 km
Stage 4: Amelia - Chieti, 252 km
Stage 5: Martinsicuro - Prati di Tivo, 196 km
Stage 6: Offida-Offida, 181 km
Stage 7: S. Benedetto del Tronto ITT, 9.3 km