The cancellation of the key mountain stage of Tirreno-Adriatico has left a numbers of riders with a chance of winning this year's race, with every second up for grabs on Monday's road stage and Tuesday's final time trial perhaps making the difference between winning and losing.
Zdenek Stybar (Etixx-QuickStep) started Monday's sixth stage in the leader's blue jersey but 10 riders are within 20 seconds of the Czech rider, with many of them hoping to move up in the classification and score precious WorldTour points.
Thanks to BMC winning the opening team time trial and consistent riding in the other stages, Damiano Caruso, Greg Van Avermaet and Tejay van Garderen are just nine seconds down on Stybar. Bob Jungels (Etixx-QuickStep) is fifth at 11 seconds with Peter Sagan (Tinkoff) also a threat at 14 seconds. Thibaut Pinot (FDJ) is eighth at 18 seconds, with Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) 11th at 24 seconds. The Italian is still angry about the cancellation of the mountain stage to Monte San Vicino and has promised to fight for every WorldTour point.
Fabian Cancellara won the final time trial last year and won Tirreno-Adriatico in 2008. He revealed to Cyclingnews that he will not target the time trial this year due to the effects of a cold and named a former teammates as his favourite to snatch victory from Stybar.
"Bob Jungels," Cancellara said.
"Perhaps… I think Bob has a great chance. Of course today's stage could also influence things too. Tuesday's time trial is short and so even riders like Greg Van Avermaet and Tejay van Garderen could do well and even win it."
Cancellara dismissed Sagan's chances.
"His time trials haven't been great recently apart from the Tour of California but we'll see if he pulls back some seconds today. There will be a real fight for the time bonuses today."
Steve Cummings (Dimension Data) won stage four to Foligno and is an excellent rouleur and time trialist. He also picked Jungels as the danger man for Stybar.
"Jungels is perhaps the outsider but he's probably the best time trialist of them all," he said. "If Sagan gets a time bonus then he could be right in the mix too. It will also be interesting to see which of the BMC riders does the best but whatever happens they're going to be happy because they're going to pick up a lot of WorldTour points."
Tony Martin (Etixx-QuickStep) is the favourite for the 10.1km out and back time on the San Benedetto del Tronto seafront. He knows who has the power and time trialing technique to perhaps pull back time on Stybar. Of course Martin is hoping to win the stage and is hoping his teammates can win overall.
"I think it's quite an open race but for sure I'm hoping our guys Zdenek Stybar and Bob Jungels can do it," he told Cyclingnews. "For sure Bob is the best time trialist of the best placed riders, perhaps he has the best chance.
"I'm be going for the stage for sure. It'd be good to get another stage win for us in this race."