After 1,038.5km of racing across six days, this year’s Tirreno-Adriatico will be decided in Tuesday’s final 10km time trial on the out-and-back course in San Benedetto del Tronto.
Adam Yates (Mitchelton-Scott) will start last as race leader, 25 seconds better than Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma) in the general classification, but knows he will have ride the time trial of is life if he is to limit his losses and lift the race winner’s trident trophy.
Yates lost 36 seconds to Roglic in the same time trial in last year’s Tirreno-Adriatico, when he was fighting for fifth place overall and Roglic the stage victory. He has perhaps improved his time trialing ability since then, but Roglic is now riding for a second overall victory in a WorldTour stage race and seems on superb form.
Both are aware of the most likely outcome, but both are cautious about the unexpected and a surprise result.
“As I’ve said and I’ll keep saying it, I’ll do the best I can and if it’s good enough, it’s good enough,” Yates said after the finish in Jesi before heading to the coast and San Benedetto del Tronto.
“Twenty-five seconds is not a safe margin. Unfortunately, there’s not another mountain stage. This TT doesn’t suit me very well, but that’s how it is.”
Roglic kept a low profile during the 195km rolling stage from Matelica to Jesi, finishing 26th, in the same time as surprise winner Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck-QuickStep) but away from the chaos of the sprint. He quickly disappeared into the Jumbo-Visma team bus to stay warm and recover before the time trial.
Roglic is aware that this year’s Tirreno-Adriatico is his to lose. He is under pressure to respect the predictions, pull back his 25 deficit and so win overall. Yet he is too smart and too modest to say it is that simple.
Some of the other overall contenders have suggested that Adam Yates could ‘do a Simon’ and pull off a surprise victory, emulating his twin brother Simon who won the time trial stage at Paris-Nice. Roglic is concerned about an unexpected outcome.
"I don't know," he said when asked about Adam ‘doing a Simon’. “We'll see – but anything's possible. We'll all start from zero and we'll all have, more or less, the same conditions."
TT specialists to the fore
The 10km individual time trial is a traditional final stage for Tirreno-Adriatico. A short final stage allows most riders to enjoy an easy final day and so start their recovery for Saturday’s Milan-San Remo.
Yates and Roglic will fight for overall victory, with Jakob Fuglsang (Astana) having an outside chance of beating both of them. The Dane is 35 seconds behind after winning stage 5 to Recanati on Sunday.
Fuglsang’s podium spot seems secure with Tom Dumoulin (Team Sunweb) fourth overall at 1:55. Alaphilippe is fifth at 2:24, with a strong list of Grand Tour riders behind him, ready to fight for the best places in the top 10 and the important UCI WorldTour ranking points that are awarded.
The stage victory will be a battle for the time trial specialists, with huge raw power and aero bike skills needed to ride at close to 60km/h on the out-and-back promenade course.
Australia’s Rohan Dennis won last year, and the current world time trial champion will be a favourite again after his move to Bahrain-Merida. His biggest rival is perhaps European time trial champion Victor Campenaerts (Lotto Soudal) who is using Tirreno-Adriatico as his final build-up race for his Hour Record attempt in Mexico in April.
“I feel a little bit of pressure" Dennis said. "To be at the start wearing the TT world champion jersey gives me more responsibility and expectations. I think my conditions is quite good, I felt very confident during the TTT in Camaiore. I had a couple of rough days in the middle of this race, but I think last year I was a little worse. In the last period, I had been training a bit more with my TT bike and I feel ready for a good race."
Other names to watch include Tony Martin after his clearly successful move to Jumbo-Visma, Taylor Phinney (EF Education First), Jos van Emden (Jumbo-Visma), Maciej Bodnar (Bora-Hansgrohe), Michael Hepburn and Luke Durbridge (Mitchelton-Scott), Steve Cummings (Dimension Data), Filippo Ganna (Team Sky) and Stefan Kung (Groupama-FDJ).