LPR Brakes-Farnese Vini will face Italy's Tirreno-Adriatico stage race, March 11 to 17, with a two-pronged attack: Alessandro 'Ale-Jet' Petacchi and Danilo 'The Killer' Di Luca. The former seeks to dominate the opening sprint stages in Toscana and Di Luca will take over once the race travels into Le Marche.
"The race is challenging and will be lively from start to finish, not to mention the quality of the adversaries," said Directeur Sportif Giovanni Fidanza.
The race, which begins in the west along the Mar Tirreno, will travel east to the Mar Adriatico. The first three stages are all in Tuscany, near the home of Ligurian Petacchi: Capannori, Marina di Carrara and Santa Croce sull'Arno.
Stage four starts in the Umbria region and ends in Le Marche region with two climbs up Montelupone. The first Montelupone passage comes at 13.9 kilometres to the finish. Its sections of 21% gradient should suit Di Luca, who finished second last year to Joaquím Rodríguez (Caisse d'Epargne).
"The mountain stages are very difficult and Di Luca will definitely want to leave his mark on Montelupone."
Monday's stage to Camerino will be the second of two mountain stages. The 235-kilometre day takes in the Cingoli and Sasso Tetto passes before the 200-metre unclassified finishing climb.
Di Luca finished 24th overall last year racing for his new team. Petacchi, then in Milram colours, won stage four.
(Additional editorial assistance provided by Antonio J. Salmerón.)