The route of the 2017 Tirreno-Adriatico will visit the area of central Italy hit by earthquakes, and include a mountain finish on Terminillo as part of a classic route for the 'Race of the Two Seas'.
The weeklong stage race (March 8-14) will again start with a team time trial in Lido di Camaiore on the Tuscany coast, with the holiday resort agreeing to host the start until 2020. The 52nd edition of the race ends with the traditional, short individual time trial on the sea front of San Benedetto del Tronto. The route includes over 1,300m of climbing, making it much tougher than in recent years.
Tirreno-Adriatico sits between Strade Bianche and Milan-San Remo and offers excellent preparation for La Primavera and the cobbled Classics in northern Europe. It also offers vital WorldTour ranking points. Snow forced organisers RCS Sport to cancel the key mountain stage of the race this year, with Greg van Avermaet (BMC) managing to beat Peter Sagan (Tinkoff) by a single second. In 2015 Nairo Quintana won the stunning trident trophy after winning alone in the snow at the summit of Terminillo.
Tuscan sprinter Daniele Bennati was at the route presentation and hinted that Quintana would be back to race for overall victory in 2017. Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain-Merida) and Fabio Aru (Astana) are expected to clash for the first time as rivals at Tirreno-Adriatico before their highly anticipated rivalry at the Giro d'Italia in May.
The head of RCS Sport, Mauro Vegni, hinted that Team Sky has promised to send a "strong squad" to Tirreno-Adriatico which is likely to reflect their line-up for the Giro d'Italia. Vegni refused to reveal if that includes Chris Froome but hopes to have many of the biggest Grand Tour riders at Tirreno-Adriatico. World champion Peter Sagan is also expected to ride again as he prepares for the spring Classics.
"The route follows the one proposed in recent years with the initial and final time trials, two sprint stages, two stages for finisseur, and an uphill finish that this year returns to the Terminillo," race director Stefano Allocchio explained at the official presentation in Camaiore.
"The formula we have proposed has been successful and gives the opportunity to all riders to better express their characteristics and, at the end of the seven stages, to crown a complete athlete at the highest level."
Tirreno-Adriatico crosses central Italy from Tyrrhenian coast to the Adriatic with the Apennines offering some stunning climbs. The 2017 opening team time trial is again on a flat and fast course with just four corners slowing the riders. The following day is a rolling stage from Camaiore to Pomarance near the Tuscan coast, with four climbs along the route. The last climb is particularly suited to finisseur. In 2016, Zdenek Stybar was first to this finish line ahead of Sagan and Edvald Boasson Hagen after a late solo attack.
Local resident Paolo Bettini revealed that the second stage will include two testing climbs in the final 70km before the uphill finish in Pomerance, making the 228km a hard day out
The third stage goes from Monterotondo Marittimo to Montalto di Castro, and is expected to again finish in a sprint as it did in 2016, when Fernando Gaviria confirmed his talent.
Saturday's queen stage starts from Montalto di Castro, and features two intermediate climbs plus the final climb of Terminillo, which is 16km long with an average gradient of 7.3% and maximum of 12%.
Sunday sees what RCS Sport calls the "Muri" stage, which includes a series of short but steep climbs. The stage from Rieti to Fermo passes through the areas devastated by two earthquakes in August and October, in a sign of support to the area that has hosted numerous stages of the race over the years.
The finish in Fermo comes after 209km of hilly racing, with the steep climb up to the finish line covered three times. The sprinters get a final chance to test their legs before Milan-San Remo with a finish in Civitanova Marche after a late but easy climb. The final 10.1km individual time trial of 10.1km is around San Benedetto del Tronto.
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Tirreno-Adriatico 2017 stages
Stage 1: Lido di Camaiore TTT 22.7km
Stage 2: Camaiore-Pomerance 228km
Stage 3: Monterotondo Marittimo- Montalto di Castro 204km
Stage 4: Montalto di Castro-Terminillo 171km
Stage 5: Rieti: Fermo 209km
Stage 6: Ascoli Piceno-Civitanova Marche 168km
Stage 7: San Benedetto del Tronto ITT 10.1km