Rigoberto Uran will make his European racing debut at Tirreno-Adriatico this week, leading the GC aspirations of EF Education First-Drapac. The Colombian was third overall and won a stage at Colombia Oro y Paz last month to start his season.
Uran's best result at the 'race of the two seas' came in 2015 when he finished third overall. He was then eighth in 2017 and enters the 2018 edition of the race with a team backing his bid for GC success. The majority of his teammates are from the classics squad but will have Simon Clarke and Daniel Moreno for when the roads start heading uphill.
For the sprint days, the team is backing Sacha Modolo for the stage win as he hones his condition ahead of Milan-San Remo. The trio of Taylor Phinney, Tom Van Asbroeck and Sep Vanmarcke will support Modolo in the sprints while also looking for their own opportunities when they arise. The race is also an important test for Phinney, Van Asbroeck and Vanmarcke ahead of the cobbled classics.
"The course of Tirreno, unlike last year, is technical, very demanding and gives space to any kind of specialist. Sprinters, climbers and time trial riders will enjoy it," said directeur sportif Fabrizio Guidi. “We have overall ambitions with Uran and the chance to sprint with Modolo. Reconciling everything is difficult but not impossible thanks to the professional approach of the group and our competition strategy. We certainly will not have days off. Every day we will target the maximum result."
Modolo and Uran are the only riders to win on the team so far in 2018 and for Clarke, it bodes well for the week of racing ahead starting Wednesday.
"Tirreno is always interesting because it's the first big test in Europe, particularly for the GC riders — that and Paris-Nice. So these races are always very good indicators of how good guys are going to be leading into the year," said Clarke. “It's a nice Tirreno this year, because there's the standard team time trial to start with, and then we've got stage 1 and the second-to-last stage, which are nice sprint stages, and having Modolo here on the team creates a nice new opportunity for us on the flat stages. Then we've got two undulating stages, stage 3 and stage 5 with nice little finishes that I think suit myself and Sep. Hopefully, between the two of us we can be competitive on those stages while supporting Rigo."
The 2018 edition of the race, which pays tribute to Michele Scarponi, starts with a team time trial in Lido di Camaiore and concludes with an individual test against the clock in San Benedetto del Tronto.
EF Education First-Drapac for Tirreno-Adriatico: Simon Clarke, Sacha Modolo, Dani Moreno, Taylor Phinney, Rigoberto Uran, Tom Van Asbroeck and Sep Vanmarcke.