The cancellation of stage 5 of Tirreno-Adriatico has given Zdenek Stybar, and his teammate Bob Jungels, a real chance of overall victory. But the Etixx-QuickStep riders were hesitant about their chances, knowing that their rivals will probably fight for every time bonus during Monday’s stage to Cepagatti and that the 10.1km time trial in San Benedetto del Tronto could prove vital.
Stybar and his teammates rode 70km to their next team hotel on Sunday morning. It was cold, although not raining, but he was convinced race organiser RCS Sport had made the correct choice considering the risk of snow on the climbs and at the finish at Monte San Vicino.
“It's the right decision. That's all I can say really. It finally happened. Everyone is calling about the extreme weather protocol, and it finally happened," Stybar said.
Stybar leads the BMC trio of Damiano Caruso, Greg Van Avermaet and Tejay van Garderen by just nine seconds. Jungels is fifth at 11seconds, with Peter Sagan (Tinkoff) also a threat at 14 seconds. The world champion could fight for the time bonuses on Monday, move closer to Stybar and then try to snatch overall victory in the final time trial.
Stybar perhaps thought he would lose the Tirreno-Adriatico leader’s jersey on the mountain finish to Monte San Vicino. Now he is under pressure to hold onto it.
“We'll see. Tomorrow we’ll race, now we train, there is still the time trial too,’ he said. “Really, I'm thinking about tomorrow's stage first. After that, we'll see. There's a time trial, so there's still two chances.”
Jungels shooting for a top five overall
Jungels was more forthcoming before he wrapped up and set off for the team’s next hotel by bike. He pointed out that Etixx-QuickStep can also win Monday’s stage with Fernando Gaviria, with the Colombian taking away the ten-second time bonus awarded to the stage winner. Then the final time trial will be a shootout between whoever is the fastest against the clock.
Jungels is former junior world time trial champion but was careful not overstate his chances, or suggest he could move past Stybar and win Tirreno-Adriatico.
“First, we have to think about the stage tomorrow where we have Gaviria for the sprint. We have good cards to play on Tuesday, and of course, we'll try. I'm fifth now, and if someone had told me that I'd finish top five in Tirreno, I would've signed up for it straight away. Even more than that would be a nice bonus.
“For us it's quite a good situation to be in but of course, it's still 10km and there're guys like Van Averment, van Garderen, and even Kwiatkowski's not far. It's still going to be a fight.”
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