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Freire the King of Tirreno

Oscar Freire (Rabobank)

Oscar Freire (Rabobank) (Image credit: Sirotti)

Sprinters dominate "race of two seas"

With six out of the seven stages being won by either Oscar Freire or Alessandro Petacchi, and the top four on general classification all being sprinters, it's fair to say that this year's edition of Tirreno-Adriatico was dominated by riders blessed with lots of fast twitch muscle fibres. But in many ways this was not surprising, as nearly all of the world's top sprinters were at the "race of two seas" and that meant their teams as well. With so many squads interested in controlling the race for their fast men, there were few chances for successful breakaways. Only Servais Knaven's solo win in stage 5 broke the monopoly.

After Oscar Freire's win in stage 2, his very strong and motivated Rabobank team rode to protect him each day, as they had placed a high value on winning this race, the second in the new ProTour - Rabobank has been one of the main teams which has fully grasped the concept of what it means to be a ProTour team, and deployed its resources accordingly between Paris-Nice and Tirreno-Adriatico.

Then there was the always powerful Fassa Bortolo team, that worked hard for their top man Petacchi, who, despite a few setbacks in the race, still bagged three wins and second overall, and has already racked up 11 wins for the season! Today's final stage in San Benedetto Del Tronto again fell to Petacchi, who beat a fast finishing Mario Cipollini and Danilo Hondo for the victory.

"Last year I also won three stages in Tirreno, but this year I feel a lot stronger," said Petacchi afterwards. "It seems strange, but in spite of the second place overall, I worked less hard than I did in 2004. The improvement on the climbs has helped me a lot. In the sprint, which was managed perfectly by my teammates, my bike was jumping around a bit because of the uneven road. In the end it all went well and I succeeded in beating all of my rivals.

"With respect to Sanremo, I see Freire above everyone else, but I don't forget Zabel, Hondo, Cipollini, McEwen and at the same time Bettini, who is improving. All will depend on how they confront the Poggio and Cipressa, even if it doesn't finish in a sprint. If the other teams have an alternative, so do we. We have Kirchen who has come out of Paris-Nice well, who can remain with the best on the climbs and is fast in small group sprints."

Tirreno-Adriatico Stage 7

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