This year's Tirreno-Adriatico will remember Michele Scarponi with stage 5 of the week-long March race finishing in his hometown of Filottrano. Tirreno-Adriatico will start in Lido di Camaiore on Wednesday, March 7 with a 21.5km team time trial and end on Tuesday, March 11 with a 10km individual time trial in San Benedetto del Tronto.
Scarponi won Tirreno-Adriatico in 2009 and won three stages, often excelling in the steep climbs of his Marche region near the Adriatic coast. Scarponi finished 15th in the 2017 Tirreno-Adriatico but was tragically killed in late April after being hit by a vehicle as he started a training ride from his home in Filottrano. Just a few days before he had won the opening stage of the Tour of the Alps and was due to lead the Astana team at the Giro d'Italia.
"We wanted to commemorate a friend, the unforgettable Michele Scarponi with a stage finish in Filottrano," race director Mauro Vegni during the route presentation.
Tirreno-Adriatico was created as an alternative to Paris-Nice and is considered the best way to peak for Milan-San Remo without the risk of bad weather in northern Europe. These days it is the meat in the sandwich between Strade Bianche (March 3) and Milan-San Remo (March 17). 2018 marks the 53rd edition of the race.
In addition to a team time trial and short individual test, five road race stages offer chances to the sprinters and rouleurs, with a mountain finish during the weekend revealing the overall contenders.
WorldTour points and a tougher route in recent years have attracted a number of Grand Tour riders. Nairo Quintana (Movistar) won the overall classification for a second time in 2017, while Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain-Merida) has won the Race of the Two Seas in 2012 and 2013.
Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) has confirmed he will ride Tirreno-Adriatico again in 2018. He has won a total of seven stages and is just one short of third place in the record book of all time stage winners. The world champion could join or pass Alessandro Petacchi, Moreno Argentin and Giuseppe Saronni, with eight wins and close in on Oscar Freire (11) and Roger de Vlaeminck (15).
Also expected to ride this year's Tirreno-Adriatico are Philippe Gilbert and Bob Jungels (Quick-Step Floors), Chris Froome and Geraint Thomas (Team Sky), Fabio Aru (UAE Team Emirates), Romain Bardet (AG2R La Mondiale), Miguel Angel Lopez (Astana), Mark Cavendish and Louis Meintjes (Dimension Data), Tom Dumoulin (Team Sunweb) and Greg Van Avermaet (BMC).
The Race of the Two Seas
The Corsa dei Due Mari starts on the Tyrrhenian coast with the now traditional team time trial that has seen BMC triumph for the last two years. The 167km stage 2 hugs the Tuscan coast for an expected sprint finish in Follonica.
Stage 3 is from Follonica and Trevi, covering 234km. It takes the race inland and south to beyond Rome on rolling roads before a kick-up to the finish.
Stage 4 should shake up the overall classification. It is 219km long and ends in Sarnano Sassotetto at 1345 metres, after a 14km climb to the line. This year's Tirreno-Adriatico includes a total of 11,000 metres of climbing.
Stage 5 has been baptized the 'Tappa dei Muri' – "The stage of the Walls" due to the string of short but steep climbs on the road from Castelraimondo to Filottrano. It is a stage Scarponi would have loved to contest.
Stage 6 is a final chance for the sprinters to test their legs before Milan-San Remo. The 153km stage from Numana to Fano on the Adriatico coast has a flat final 40km.
The final 10km time trial in San Benedetto del Tronto is again up and down the flat seafront. Last year Quintana limited his losses to beat Rohan Dennis (BMC) by 25 seconds and so lift the winner's Trident trophy.