This year’s Tirreno-Adriatico race has attracted some of the best stage racers, classics riders and sprinters, with the testing seven stages between the Tyrrhenian and Adriatic seas set to produce a week of entertaining racing.
Organisers, RCS Sport has managed to transform Tirreno-Adriatico from a preparation for Milan-San Remo to a tough stage race that Grand Tour riders are keen to add to their palmares. Last year, Nairo Quintana (Movistar) showed his intentions for the season by winning in the snow on Terminillo and taking home the trident shaped winner’s trophy.
The 50th edition of Tirreno-Adriatico starts on Tuesday March 8 with a 22km team time trial on the coast between Lido di Camaiore and Forte dei Marmi. Palo Bettini has designed stage to Pomerance and then the decisive stages head into the Apennines with the key mountain stage finishing atop Monte san Vicino on Sunday, March 13.
This year the battle for overall victory looks set to be between Vincenzo Nibali (Astana), Quintana’s teammate Alejandro Valverde and the USA’s Tejay van Garderen (BMC). All three have shown some sold early-season form.
Nibali won the recent Tour of Oman and won Tirreno-Adriatico in 2012 and 2013. He is targeting the Giro d’Italia and will no doubt want to send out a signal to his rivals. Valverde is also riding the Giro d’Italia but will first contest a series of spring Classics. It will be interesting to see how he performs in Italy over consecutive stages.
Van Garderen rarely races in Italy but is a serious threat due to his climbing ability and time trial skills. BMC could give him an advantage on his rivals and the final time trial could help him seal victory.
Rigoberto Uran (Cannondale) is perhaps an outsider for overall victory but is always consistent in Italy. It was be interesting to see how he performs after moving to Cannondale and training at altitude with several key teammates.
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The sprinters also stand out in the entry list, with Mark Cavendish (Dimension Data), Elia Viviani (Team Sky) and Fernando Gaviria (Etixx-QuickStep) also set to quickly jump from track racing at the world championship in London for road racing at Tirreno-Adriatico.
Ewan Caleb (Orica-GreenEdge), Peter Sagan (Tinkoff) and Edvald Boasson Hagen (Dimension Data) will no doubt also contest the sprints but were fascinated to see how Gaviria performs on the hillier stages and sprint finishes.
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