Tirreno Adriatico, or the ‘Race of the Two Seas,’ is looking particularly tough for 2012.
The riders will cover over 1000km in the five road stages, bookended by two time trials, a team time trial to open the race and an individual one to bring it to a close.
Typically, the winner of Milan-San Remo will come from Tirreno, with Matt Goss's win last year being the only exception in over a decade.
In the past, riders preparing for the first classic of the season would often ride for a number of kilometres after one of the stages, getting their bodies prepared for the 300km which they’ll face three days after the finish of Tirreno.
However, with stage four being a very arduous 252km, that won't be necessary this year.
The nature of the race, with its long back to back stages, will really increase the riders’ chronic training load, or CTL, which is what makes it perfect as the final preparation for the classics riders before the one day monuments loom.
Let's have a closer look at the stages.
Stage One, 16.9km Team Time Trial
This flat and relatively short opening team time trial will be very intense, with the winning team’s average speed likely to be over 55kph. The teams will decide on a set order before the race, and will get up to speed as soon as possible off the start ramp.