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Pinotti: It's against all odds but Tirreno is not over until the fat lady sings

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Damiano Caruso (BMC Racing) back in blue at Tirreno-Adriatico

Damiano Caruso (BMC Racing) back in blue at Tirreno-Adriatico (Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Damiano Caruso (BMC Racing)

Damiano Caruso (BMC Racing) (Image credit: Tim de Waele/
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Michal Kwiatkowski rides alone to the finish of stage 5 at Volta ao Algarve

Michal Kwiatkowski rides alone to the finish of stage 5 at Volta ao Algarve (Image credit: Tim de Waele/
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Sports Science Division trainer Marco Pinotti works with the riders on daily training plans, recovery and puts them through a battery of pre-season tests.

Sports Science Division trainer Marco Pinotti works with the riders on daily training plans, recovery and puts them through a battery of pre-season tests. (Image credit: BMC Racing Team)
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Michal Kwiatkowski (Team Sky)

Michal Kwiatkowski (Team Sky) (Image credit: Tim de Waele/

Logic and consensus all point to Michal Kwiatkowski (Team Sky) sealing the Tirreno-Adriatico victory in Tuesday's 10km time trial but the history books will provide his chief rival Damiano Caruso (BMC Racing) with more than a shred of hope.

The Team Sky rider will set off last in the San Benedetto time trial, rolling down the start ramp at 15:48 CET, two minutes after Caruso. The Pole holds a slim three-second lead over his BMC Racing rival, with Mikel Landa, Geraint Thomas, and Rigoberto Uran set to fight it out for the final step on the podium.

To illustrate just how close the battle between Caruso and Kwiatkowski could be, the Team Sky rider attempted to pinch a two-second time bonus on stage 6. He was shut down by two BMC riders in Greg Van Avermaet and Patrick Bevin. Every second counts.

Caruso, who has raced Tirreno-Adriatico in a relaxed manner throughout, played down his chance of an overall victory on Monday morning. Having come into the race as the team's substitute leader after Richie Porte was ruled out through illness, the Italian isn't under any undue pressure. A place on the podium would have been seen as a significant success a week ago.

"I know that it's going to be really hard tomorrow but it's not impossible," he told Cyclingnews as he came down the BMC bus steps.

"The gap is only three seconds and I'll try to do my best. Kwiatkowski is really strong but it's only three seconds. I want to at least keep my podium."

No two time trials on the road are ever the same but BMC Racing have brought Marco Pinotti – their time trial coaching expert – back to the race ahead of Tuesday's stage. He will undoubtedly sit down with Caruso this evening and remind him that he has beaten Kwiatkowski in the last two final time trials at Tirreno, in 2016 and 2017. On both of those occasions, neither rider was competing for the win but the battle could be closer than many think.

"It's no discussion," Caruso flatly said. "He's stronger than me but I want to just stay focused on my race.

"I've done a lot of training on my TT bike. We have a really fast bike and I'm just going to play my cards without any stress. I've nothing to lose. Tomorrow we'll do recon in the morning and then we'll see.

"For me, a podium would give me a huge satisfaction. It would be a big result for the team. Richie is not here and he was our leader. Now it's me and I think I've done a really good race so far."

In hindsight, it was no surprise to see Kwiatkowski deny that he would chase bonus seconds on stage 6. The fact that he did, however, should not be ignored. Taking another two seconds on Caruso would have sent a message of intent but the fact that BMC sent Olympic champion Greg Van Avermaet and Patrick Bevin to spoil the party showed that BMC are not going to roll over in the face of Team Sky's might.

"Whether I'm leading or not, I'd still go 100 per cent," Kwiatkowski told Cyclingnews before the sign on this morning.

"It's going to be about 10 or eleven minutes and it's going to be difficult but having the jersey on my chest is going to be super motivating.

"Caruso is a threat, of course. He's a great time trialist and he's racing in his home country so he'll be super motivated. When you're out there and it's so close in the GC then it gives you that extra kick. At the end of the day, I'm happy with the position I'm in. I'll ride after him so I'll get the split times."

Thomas also has an outside chance of making inroads into the GC. He should have too much for Landa, who has a six seconds buffer and sits in third, while Caruso might just be out of reach for the Welshman. Team Sky would like nothing more than a 1-2 on GC after the negative press they have gone through in recent weeks, and Thomas has a point to prove after losing the race lead on the queen stage.

"If I know Geraint well then he's so good in these efforts. He's motivated too but at the end of the day you just need go out there and give it 100 per cent."

Pinotti, always the typical voice of reason and experience, gave Kwiatkowski the nod but provided his fellow Italian Caruso with just enough hope to upset the odds.

"Damiano will ride a good TT but he doesn't have the pressure of being the favourite. Of course, you'd prefer to be in Kwiatkowski's position and have the time but of course, the pressure is on him.

"Damiano's advantage is the unpredictability of the race. We saw that today. Logic would say that Kwiatkowski is the favourite but Caruso hasn't been bad in the time trials. I'm not saying it's like we're at the end of a Grand Tour but we've had a hard week of racing and I think that the expected margins could be smaller.

"It's against all odds but It's not over until the fat lady sings, as they say."

Stage 7 Start Times

#Rider Name (Country) TeamStart Time
1Liam Bertazzo (Ita) Wilier Triestina-Selle Italia13:15:00
2Filippo Ganna (Ita) UAE Team Emirates13:16:00
3Igor Boev (Rus) Gazprom-Rusvelo13:17:00
4Guy Sagiv (Isr) Israel Cycling Academy13:18:00
5Artem Nych (Rus) Gazprom-Rusvelo13:19:00
6Taylor Phinney (USA) EF Education First-Drapac p/b Cannondale13:20:00
7Marco Coledan (Ita) Wilier Triestina-Selle Italia13:21:00
8Maarten Wynants (Bel) LottoNL-Jumbo13:22:00
9Jakub Mareczko (Ita) Wilier Triestina-Selle Italia13:23:00
10Maciej Bodnar (Pol) Bora-Hansgrohe13:24:00
11Marc Sarreau (Fra) Groupama-FDJ13:25:00
12Chad Haga (USA) Team Sunweb13:26:00
13Ryan Mullen (Irl) Trek-Segafredo13:27:00
14Rick Zabel (Ger) Katusha-Alpecin13:28:00
15Dennis van Winden (Ned) Israel Cycling Academy13:29:00
16Sho Hatsuyama (Jpn) Nippo-Vini Fantini-Europa Ovini13:30:00
17Marcel Kittel (Ger) Katusha-Alpecin13:31:00
18Kristian Sbaragli (Ita) Israel Cycling Academy13:32:00
19Mads Pedersen (Den) Trek-Segafredo13:33:00
20Damiano Cunego (Ita) Nippo-Vini Fantini-Europa Ovini13:34:00
21Nikias Arndt (Ger) Team Sunweb13:35:00
22Jasha Sütterlin (Ger) Movistar Team13:36:00
23Jacopo Mosca (Ita) Wilier Triestina-Selle Italia13:37:00
24Stepan Kuriyanov (Rus) Gazprom-Rusvelo13:38:00
25Simone Consonni (Ita) UAE Team Emirates13:39:00
26Alex Dowsett (GBr) Katusha-Alpecin13:40:00
27Eduard Grosu (Rom) Nippo-Vini Fantini-Europa Ovini13:41:00
28Tom Van Asbroeck (Bel) EF Education First-Drapac p/b Cannondale13:42:00
29Matthias Brändle (Aut) Trek-Segafredo13:43:00
30Stefan Küng (Swi) BMC Racing Team13:44:00
31Benoit Vaugrenard (Fra) Groupama-FDJ13:45:00
32Danny van Poppel (Ned) LottoNL-Jumbo13:46:00
33Julien Duval (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale13:47:00
34Patrick Bevin (NZl) BMC Racing Team13:48:00
35Filippo Pozzato (Ita) Wilier Triestina-Selle Italia13:49:00
36August Jensen (Nor) Israel Cycling Academy13:50:00
37Lennard Kämna (Ger) Team Sunweb13:51:00
38Nicola Bagioli (Ita) Nippo-Vini Fantini-Europa Ovini13:52:00
39Alexander Foliforov (Rus) Gazprom-Rusvelo13:53:00
40Guillaume Boivin (Can) Israel Cycling Academy13:54:00
41Sacha Modolo (Ita) EF Education First-Drapac p/b Cannondale13:55:00
42Krists Neilands (Lat) Israel Cycling Academy13:56:00
43Maximiliano Richeze (Arg) Quick-Step Floors13:57:00
44Luka Mezgec (Slo) Mitchelton-Scott13:58:00
45Iljo Keisse (Bel) Quick-Step Floors13:59:00
46Daniel Hoelgaard (Nor) Groupama-FDJ14:00:00
47Fernando Gaviria (Col) Quick-Step Floors14:01:00
48Alexandre Geniez (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale14:02:00
49Alberto Bettiol (Ita) BMC Racing Team14:03:00
50Daniele Bennati (Ita) Movistar Team14:04:00
51Aleksandr Riabushenko (Blr) UAE Team Emirates14:05:00
52Alexis Gougeard (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale14:06:00
53Boy van Poppel (Ned) Trek-Segafredo14:07:00
54Clement Venturini (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale14:08:00
55Rohan Dennis (Aus) BMC Racing Team14:09:00
56Jens Debusschere (Bel) Lotto Soudal14:10:00
57Jonathan Castroviejo (Spa) Team Sky14:11:00
58Victor Campenaerts (Bel) Lotto Soudal14:12:00
59Salvatore Puccio (Ita) Team Sky14:13:00
60Nikolas Maes (Bel) Lotto Soudal14:14:00
61Sonny Colbrelli (Ita) Bahrain-Merida14:15:00
62Niki Terpstra (Ned) Quick-Step Floors14:16:00
63Marco Marcato (Ita) UAE Team Emirates14:17:00
64Gijs Van Hoecke (Bel) LottoNL-Jumbo14:18:00
65Tomasz Marczynski (Pol) Lotto Soudal14:19:00
66Oscar Gatto (Ita) Astana Pro Team14:20:00
67Nikolai Cherkasov (Rus) Gazprom-Rusvelo14:21:00
68Marcus Burghardt (Ger) Bora-Hansgrohe14:22:00
69Jos van Emden (Ned) LottoNL-Jumbo14:23:00
70Michael Hepburn (Aus) Mitchelton-Scott14:24:00
71Dario Cataldo (Ita) Astana Pro Team14:25:00
72Matteo Busato (Ita) Wilier Triestina-Selle Italia14:26:00
73Sep Vanmarcke (Bel) EF Education First-Drapac p/b Cannondale14:27:00
74Aleksandr Vlasov (Rus) Gazprom-Rusvelo14:28:00
75Jens Keukeleire (Bel) Lotto Soudal14:29:00
76Jorge Arcas (Spa) Movistar Team14:30:00
77Marco Canola (Ita) Nippo-Vini Fantini-Europa Ovini14:31:00
78Antoine Duchesne (Can) Groupama-FDJ14:32:00
79Edvald Boasson Hagen (Nor) Dimension Data14:33:00
80Andrey Grivko (Ukr) Astana Pro Team14:34:00
81Michael Schär (Swi) BMC Racing Team14:35:00
82Kristijan Koren (Slo) Bahrain-Merida14:36:00
83Davide Cimolai (Ita) Groupama-FDJ14:37:00
84Franco Pellizotti (Ita) Bahrain-Merida14:38:00
85Scott Thwaites (GBr) Dimension Data14:39:00
86Gianni Moscon (Ita) Team Sky14:40:00
87Simone Ponzi (Ita) Nippo-Vini Fantini-Europa Ovini14:41:00
88Nelson Oliveira (Por) Movistar Team14:42:00
89Daniel Oss (Ita) Bora-Hansgrohe14:43:00
90Jack Bauer (NZl) Mitchelton-Scott14:44:00
91Nathan Haas (Aus) Katusha-Alpecin14:45:00
92Vasil Kiryienka (Blr) Team Sky14:46:00
93Luke Durbridge (Aus) Mitchelton-Scott14:47:00
94Tony Martin (Ger) Katusha-Alpecin14:48:00
95Daryl Impey (RSA) Mitchelton-Scott14:49:00
96Jasper Stuyven (Bel) Trek-Segafredo14:50:00
97Peter Sagan (Svk) Bora-Hansgrohe14:51:00
98Matthieu Ladagnous (Fra) Groupama-FDJ14:52:00
99Zdenek Stybar (Cze) Quick-Step Floors14:53:00
100Tosh Van Der Sande (Bel) Lotto Soudal14:54:00
101Andrey Amador (CRc) Movistar Team14:55:00
102Julien Vermote (Bel) Dimension Data14:56:00
103Mathias Frank (Swi) AG2R La Mondiale14:57:00
104Rafal Majka (Pol) Bora-Hansgrohe14:58:00
105Chris Froome (GBr) Team Sky14:59:00
106Tanel Kangert (Est) Astana Pro Team15:00:00
107Fabio Felline (Ita) Trek-Segafredo15:01:00
108Simon Clarke (Aus) EF Education First-Drapac p/b Cannondale15:02:00
109Davide Villella (Ita) Astana Pro Team15:03:00
110Primoz Roglic (Slo) LottoNL-Jumbo15:04:00
111Steve Morabito (Swi) Groupama-FDJ15:05:00
112José Gonçalves (Por) Katusha-Alpecin15:06:00
113Philippe Gilbert (Bel) Quick-Step Floors15:07:00
114Sergey Firsanov (Rus) Gazprom-Rusvelo15:08:00
115Edoardo Zardini (Ita) Wilier Triestina-Selle Italia15:09:00
116Simon Spilak (Slo) Katusha-Alpecin15:10:00
117Kanstantsin Siutsou (Blr) Bahrain-Merida15:11:00
118Diego Ulissi (Ita) UAE Team Emirates15:12:00
119Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) BMC Racing Team15:13:00
120Jan Polanc (Slo) UAE Team Emirates15:14:00
121Bob Jungels (Lux) Quick-Step Floors15:15:00
122Alexey Lutsenko (Kaz) Astana Pro Team15:16:00
123Ivan Santaromita (Ita) Nippo-Vini Fantini-Europa Ovini15:17:00
124Miguel Angel Lopez (Col) Astana Pro Team15:18:00
125Louis Meintjes (RSA) Dimension Data15:20:00
126Romain Bardet (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale15:22:00
127Domenico Pozzovivo (Ita) Bahrain-Merida15:24:00
128Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Bahrain-Merida15:26:00
129Fabio Aru (Ita) UAE Team Emirates15:28:00
130Jaime Roson (Spa) Movistar Team15:30:00
131George Bennett (NZl) LottoNL-Jumbo15:32:00
132Tiesj Benoot (Bel) Lotto Soudal15:34:00
133Davide Formolo (Ita) Bora-Hansgrohe15:36:00
134Adam Yates (GBr) Mitchelton-Scott15:38:00
135Rigoberto Uran (Col) EF Education First-Drapac p/b Cannondale15:40:00
136Geraint Thomas (GBr) Team Sky15:42:00
137Mikel Landa (Spa) Movistar Team15:44:00
138Damiano Caruso (Ita) BMC Racing Team15:46:00
139Michal Kwiatkowski (Pol) Team Sky15:48:00

Daniel Benson is the Managing Editor at Cyclingnews. Based in the UK, he coordinates the global coverage for the website. Having joined Cyclingnews in April 2008, he has covered several Tour de France, the Spring Classics, and the London Olympic Games in 2012.

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