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Tirreno-Adriatico set to start in near-arctic conditions

Snow accumulated on the road sides in the Tour Mediterranean

Snow accumulated on the road sides in the Tour Mediterranean (Image credit: Bettini Photo)

A rare snowfall that blanketed much of the Mediterranean coast this week means Tirreno-Adriatico may start in near-arctic conditions in Tuscany on Wednesday. It's not expected to force the cancellation or shortening of any stages, however.

Despite the cold weather, the 148km stage from Livorno to Rosignano Solvay could still see some teams go on the attack to try immediately gain time on their rivals. Androni Giocattoli team manager Gianni Savio predicted the opening stage would be like a Belgian classic and smiled when asked about the possibility of team leader Michele Scarponi gaining time on his rivals even stage one.

The riders were understandably not so enthusiastic about racing in the terrible weather conditions. Organisers RCS Sport confirmed that the stage will start 15 minutes earlier than scheduled but insisted it will go on, whatever the weather.

"It's snowed today but didn't stick, while the weather forecast for Wednesday indicates it should get a little warmer and so the snow should change to rain," assistant race director Antonella Lena told Cyclingnews.

"The stage doesn't climb very high and so while the weather won't be good, there shouldn't be any problems. The weather was discussed in the meeting with directeur sportifs but at the moment there aren't any plans to reduce the stage in any way but that decision could be made during the race if the weather deteriorates."

Safety first for Saxo Bank but Garmin will be riding to win

Some teams are rightly worried about rider safety but others hinted they may try and take advantage of the bad conditions.

"I've spoken to Fabian (Cancellara) and Andy (Schleck) and for them it's more of a health issue than a safety issue. For me it's the other way around. I've got to think about their safety." Saxo Bank directeur sportif Bradley McGee told Cyclingnews.

"Some people might think bad weather will create some great racing but that's not true. We've got to race but safety is the first concern. Even if the riders think they have a pact, there will always be someone who will attack and so its up to the organizers to decide to shorten the stage if the weather gets too bad. Hopefully they'll make the right decision for everyone's good."

Garmin-Transitions directeur sportif Matt White was concerned about safety but made it clear that the US team will be riding to win with Tyler Farrar, whatever the conditions.

Farrar beat Mark Cavendish and Alessandro Petacchi in a sprint at last year's Tirreno-Adriatico. He will have a strong team to help him this year, with Julian Dean, Murillo Fischer, Robbie Hunter to lead him out. Martijn Maaskant, Johan Van Summeren, Matt Wilson and Ryder Hesjedal are also in the Garmin-Transitions line-up for Tirreno-Adriatico.

"Hopefully it'll warm up a bit and so get rid of the ice, but we'll got for it for sure," White told Cyclingnews.

"There are probably only three sprint finishes in this year's race and so we've got to try and take every opportunity. The only really flat stage is on the last day and so it's going to test the sprinters' condition and create some good racing."

White confirmed that Tyler Farrar has recovered after a crash on the dirt roads at Strade Bianche on Saturday.

"He's hurt his hand a little bit but he'll be fine. A guy actually got up out of a ditch and threw his bike into the road just as Tyler was going by. But he's good now."

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Stephen is the most experienced member of the Cyclingnews team, having reported on professional cycling since 1994. He has held the position of European editor since 2012 and previously worked for Reuters, Shift Active Media, and Cycling Weekly, among other publications.