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Big names gather for Tirreno-Adriatico

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Fabian Cancellara, Ivan Basso, Vincenzo Nibali and Mark Cavendish meet the press.

Fabian Cancellara, Ivan Basso, Vincenzo Nibali and Mark Cavendish meet the press.
(Image credit: Sirotti)
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Ivan Basso and Thor Hushovd speak to the media.

Ivan Basso and Thor Hushovd speak to the media.
(Image credit: Sirotti)
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Ivan Basso (Liquigas - Cannondale)

Ivan Basso (Liquigas - Cannondale)
(Image credit: Sirotti)
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Mark Cavendish (HTC - Highroad)

Mark Cavendish (HTC - Highroad)
(Image credit: Sirotti)
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Fabian Cancellara (Leopard Trek)

Fabian Cancellara (Leopard Trek)
(Image credit: Sirotti)
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The reigning and previous road world champions, Thor Hushovd and Cadel Evans.

The reigning and previous road world champions, Thor Hushovd and Cadel Evans.
(Image credit: Sirotti)
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Mark Cavendish (HTC - Highroad) at the Tirreno-Adriatico press conference.

Mark Cavendish (HTC - Highroad) at the Tirreno-Adriatico press conference.
(Image credit: Sirotti)
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Fabian Cancellara chats with Ivan Basso.

Fabian Cancellara chats with Ivan Basso.
(Image credit: Sirotti)
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Alessandro Petacchi (Lampre - ISD)

Alessandro Petacchi (Lampre - ISD)
(Image credit: Sirotti)
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Fabian Cancellara (Leopard Trek)

Fabian Cancellara (Leopard Trek)
(Image credit: Sirotti)
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The riders pose with the race winner's trident trophy

The riders pose with the race winner's trident trophy
(Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Vincenzo Nibali (Liquigas - Cannondale)

Vincenzo Nibali (Liquigas - Cannondale)
(Image credit: Sirotti)
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Basso and Nibali form a powerful duo at Liquigas-Cannondale

Basso and Nibali form a powerful duo at Liquigas-Cannondale
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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2010 Tirreno-Adriatico winner Stefano Garzelli (Acqua & Sapone)

2010 Tirreno-Adriatico winner Stefano Garzelli (Acqua & Sapone)
(Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Cadel Evans (BMC)

Cadel Evans (BMC)
(Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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The sun was out for the pre-race boat trip

The sun was out for the pre-race boat trip
(Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Garzelli gets to cut the cake

Garzelli gets to cut the cake
(Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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The usual suspects

The usual suspects
(Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Basso and Hushovd

Basso and Hushovd
(Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Mark Cavendish (HTC-Highroad)

Mark Cavendish (HTC-Highroad)
(Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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The weather looks good in Marina di Carrera

The weather looks good in Marina di Carrera
(Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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2010 winner Stefano Garzelli

2010 winner Stefano Garzelli
(Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Mark Cavendish (HTC-Highroad)

Mark Cavendish (HTC-Highroad)
(Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Basso and Nibali share a joke

Basso and Nibali share a joke
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Fabian Cancellara (Leopard Trek)

Fabian Cancellara (Leopard Trek)
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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The pre-race press conference was hosted by the Italian coast guard

The pre-race press conference was hosted by the Italian coast guard
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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The riders pose with Stefano Garzelli's 2010 winner's trophy

The riders pose with Stefano Garzelli's 2010 winner's trophy
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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It's time for Tirreno-Adriatico to set sail

It's time for Tirreno-Adriatico to set sail
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Ivan Basso seems happy before the racing starts

Ivan Basso seems happy before the racing starts
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Thor Hushovd (Garmin-Cervelo)

Thor Hushovd (Garmin-Cervelo)
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)

The quality of the field for this year’s Tirreno-Adriatico became evident at the pre-race press conference on Tuesday afternoon as world champion Thor Hushovd (Garmin-Cervelo), Cadel Evans (BMC), Mark Cavendish (HTC-Highroad), Ivan Basso and Vincenzo Nibali (Liquigas-Cannondale), Alessandro Petacchi (Lampre-ISD, Fabian Cancellara (Leopard Trek) and 2010 winner Stefano Garzelli all posed for photographs at the port in Marina di Carrara.

Other big-name riders were absent from the event, including Robert Gesink (Rabobank), Tyler Farrar and Dave Zabriskie (Garmin-Cervelo), Michele Scarponi (Lampre-ISD), Alessandro Ballan (BMC), Giovanni Visconti (Farnese Vini-Neri Sottoli), Marco Pinotti (HTC-Highroad), Filippo Pozzato and Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha), Damiano Cunego (Lampre-ISD) David Arroyo (Movistar), Philippe Gilbert and Andre Greipel (Omega Pharma-Lotto), Tom Boonen (Quick Step), Oscar Freire, Lars Boom and Robert Gesink (Rabobank), Edvald Boasson Hagen (Team Sky) and Robbie McEwen (RadioShack).

Wednesday’s opening team time trial will only be Cadel Evans’s third day of racing this season but the former world champion is hoping for a stage victory and possibly a good overall performance. He tipped Ivan Basso, Robert Gesink, Michele Scarponi and Stefano Garzelli as the riders to watch.

“My form is growing. I’ve only got two races in my legs and l’ll be racing against others who have 15 or 20 days racing but I came here in the same condition last year and it went well. I hope things go the same way this year,” he said.

“I’m tipping Basso and It’ll be interesting to see how Fabian [Cancellara] goes. I think also Gesink and probably Scarponi and Garzelli. I’ll be taking it day by day like last year and see how it goes. We’ll try and do a good team time trial to start off with and see from there. If I can’t do something overall, I’ll be just looking for a stage win.”

This year’s Tirreno-Adriatico includes a final 9.3km time trial and five testing road stages. Ivan Basso is almost certain to miss the Giro d’Italia but is targeting overall victory.

“I’ve done some long training rides recently as well as specific time trial work. There are no real uphill finishes but it’s a tough route. Victory will be built day by day, second by second. We can’t leave anything to chance.”

“I’m confident my form can improve even further,” Nibali said. “Sardegna marked the start of my season but was also very useful as training. My legs aren’t great yet but I think I can have a say. I’ll try and take my chances during the race. It’s time to start testing victory.”

Wednesday's opening team time trial is over 16.8km on a flat and fast out-and-back course.

Rabobank is the first team off at 14:55 CET, with the other teams following at three minute intervals.

Team time trial start list:

14.55: Rabobank
14.58: HTC-Highroad
15.01: Quick Step
15.04: Saxo Bank-SunGard
15.07: Movistar
15.10: Vacansoleil-DCM
15.13: RadioShack
15.16: AG2R La Mondiale
15.19: BMC Racing Team
15.22: Euskaltel-Euskadi
15.25: Garmin-Cervélo
15.28: Astana
15.31: Lampre-ISD
15.34: Omega Pharma-Lotto
15.37: Sky ProCycling
15.40: Katusha Team
15.43: Farnese Vini-Neri Sottoli
15.46: Liquigas-Cannondale
15.49: Leopard Trek
15.52: Acqua & Sapone.