Live coverage of the final stage of Tirreno-Adriatico, a 9.2km time trial in San Benedetto del Tronto.
Blue jersey Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) enters today’s time trial with the kind of buffer that should really prove insurmountable. The Sicilian has 34 seconds in hand on Chris Froome (Sky) and can afford to lose over three seconds per kilometre and still claim a second successive Tirreno-Adriatico victory.
The overall situation coming into today's concluding time trial is as follows:
1 Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Astana Pro Team 27:57:26
2 Christopher Froome (GBr) Sky Procycling 0:00:34
3 Joaquim Rodriguez Oliver (Spa) Katusha 0:00:37
4 Alberto Contador Velasco (Spa) Team Saxo-Tinkoff 0:00:48
5 Michal Kwiatkowski (Pol) Omega Pharma-Quick Step 0:00:58
6 Christopher Horner (USA) RadioShack Leopard 0:01:05
7 Mauro Santambrogio (Ita) Vini Fantini-Selle Italia 0:01:20
8 Przemyslaw Niemiec (Pol) Lampre-Merida 0:02:54
9 Andrey Amador Bakkazakova (CRc) Movistar Team 0:02:58
10 Wouter Poels (Ned) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team
The riders are starting in reverse order of general classification, at one minute intervals. Nibali will be the last man down the start ramp at 4pm local time but there are a number of strong time triallists among the early starters - including Fabian Cancellara, who has just got his effort underway.
Cancellara has won this stage for the past two seasons and he's fancied to make it a hat-trick this afternoon. There was rain earlier this morning and while it has since stopped, the roads are still quite wet in some sections of the course.
The best time at the moment belongs to Jens Mouris (Orica-GreenEdge), who has clocked 10:52. Rohan Dennis (Garmin-Sharp) has just come through with the second best time so far, three seconds down on Mouris.
At the midway point, Cancellara has clocked a time three seconds quicker than that of Mouris, and the roads appear to be somewhat drier over the second half of the course.
Hayden Roulston (RadioShack-Leopard) has now recorded the quickest time, 7 seconds faster than Moruis. Cancellara is now entering the final kilometre.
It's a short stay in the hypothetical hotseat for Roulston as his teammate Cancellara zips through the finish area in 10:37, some 8 seconds quicker than Roulston.
Last year Cancellara recorded 10:36 over a slightly longer 9.3km course, although on that occasion, conditions were perfectly dry. The Swiss rider had to ride with caution over the rain-soaked early kilometres, but he closed very. very quickly indeed to pick up the best time so far here.
Adriano Malori (Lampre-Merida) was ahead of Cancellara at the midway point and he has continued in the same fashion over the back end of the course. The Italian has finished in an impressive 10:31 to beat Cancellara by all of 6 seconds.
British time trial champion Alex Dowsett (Movistar) will be next to finish. He was very impressive in the team time trial on day one, but he's not going to match Malori here.
4th best time for Dowsett so far, 17 seconds down on Malori.
It's a bit of an understatement to say that the Italian press were excited by Vincenzo Nibali's dramatic seizing of the overall lead yesterday. "What should the fan brave cold and rain on the side of the road?" this morning's Gazzetta dello Sport asked. "Because there's Vincenzo Nibali."
"What would cycling be without the courage of Nibali?" Gazzetta continues. "Only waiting-and-seeing." You can read Nibali's own thoughts on yesterday's dramatic day here.
Regardless of where he finishes the day, that was a fine ride by Adriano Malori, especially considering that he broke his collarbone in January crash just over a month ago. “I’m very happy, especially because a month ago I was at home with a broken collarbone," Malori said. "I knew I was going well but I’m also aware that there are still a lot of specialists to come. The time might be decisive – I’m hoping to be on the podium.”
Italian time trial champion Dario Cataldo (Sky) is out on the course now. The Abruzzo native was hugely impressive at the weekend in support of Chris Froome and will be a key domestique for Bradley Wiggins at the Giro d'Italia.
Moreno Moser (Cannondale) is also out on the course. A rare ten minutes or so of peace and quiet for Italy's latest fuoriclasse in a week where almost every conversation he has will relate to his chances at Milan-San Remo on Sunday.
Cataldo was 10 seconds down on Malori at the midway point and unlikely to trouble the leaderboard this afternoon.
Cataldo crosses the finish line with the 4th best time for to date, 17 seconds down on Malori.
World time trial champion Tony Martin (Omega Pharma-QuickStep) is in the start house. The German impressed in winning the time trial and general classification at the Volta ao Algarve, and he gave another exhibition of his strength as a rouleur during Omega Pharma-QuickStep's winning ride in the stage one team time trial here.
Although it's still overcast, no rain has fallen since the time trial began and the roads are drying out for the later riders.
Martin is typically smooth over the opening part of the course although we'll get a firmer indication when he comes through the time check.
Martin is two seconds down on Malori at the midway point. The German will have to open the throttle over the back end of the course to overhaul Malori, who finished very quickly indeed.
Meanwhile, Peter Sagan (Cannondale) rolls across the finish line in 14th place, 27 seconds down.
Tony Martin rockets past his minute man Egoi Martinez (Euskaltel-Euskadi) as he enters the final kilometre. It will be very tight between Martin and Malori.
Martin pulled out all the stops in the second part of the course to finish 6 seconds quicker than Malori in a time of 10:25. New best time for the German and at average speed of 52.992kph.
Cadel Evans (BMC) is now approaching the finish but the Australian is a long way off beating Martin's time. After claiming Tirreno-Adriatico during his Tour de France-winning campaign of 2011, it's been a disappointing outing for Evans.
Evans crosses the finish line 31 seconds down on Tony Martin.
The final ten starters today set off at two minute intervals. Chris Horner (RadioShack-Leopard) starts at 15:50 CET, Michal Kwiatowski (Omega Pharma-QuickStep) at 15:52, Alberto Contador at 15:54, Joaquim Rodriguez at 15:56, Chris Froome at 15:58 and, finally, Vincenzo Nibali at 16:00.
Jonathan Castroviejo (Movistar) posts a fine time of 10:39, which is good enough for 4th place so far.
Chris Horner (RadioShack Leopard) has just begun his effort. This time last year, he was tackling the time trial with the blue jersey on his back, which he subsequently lost to Vincenzo Nibali.
Michael Kwiatowski (Omega Pharma-QuickStep) has lost his chance of overall victory but the Pole will expect to post a decent time here as he sets off, and perhaps even look to nudge his way onto the podium.
A surprising ride from Andrey Amador (Movistar). The Costa Rican has just crossed the finish line in 10:35, good enough for 3rd place so far, ahead of one Fabian Cancellara.
Red jersey Alberto Contador has begun his effort. The Spaniard is looking to overhaul fellow countryman Joaquim Rodriguez and step onto the podium, but he will also be mindful of Michael Kwiatowski, who is breathing down his neck on GC.
Chris Froome, somewhat incongruously, sets off to the sounds of Freestyler. Whether that inspires him to make up the 34 seconds on Nibali remains to be seen.
Back in the start house, meanwhile, Nibali is getting a blast of "Firestarter" to keep him entertained before the off.
And as Nibali sets off, the public address pumps out Queen's "Bicycle Race" to send him on his way, lest he had forgotten.
Not a good opening from Alberto Contador. - he's 12 seconds down at the midway point.
Horner, meanwhile, crosses the finish line in a low-key 11:02, 37 seconds down on Martin.
Michal Kwiatowski comes across the finish line in 7th place with a time of 10:46. He is guaranteed at least 5th overall with that time.
Contador must finish in 10:57 if he is to hold off Kwiatowski.
10:55 for Contador, who will at least hold on to 4th place. Contador must now await Joaquim Rodriguez to see if he can clamber onto the final podium.
Contador had 11 seconds to make up on Rodriguez before the start of proceedings today.
Nibali is 4 seconds down on Froome at the midway point - 5:34 as opposed to Froome's 5:30. If NIbali stays upright, he will win Tirreno-Adriatico.
Rodriguez crosses the finish line in 11:08 and will slip off the final podium.
Chris Froome hits the line in 10:40, the 6th best time to date. The Briton will finish second overall, behind Nibali.
Just over a kilometre to go for Nibali, who simply needs to avoid a crash or a puncture to ensure final overall victory.
Nibali cross the line in 10:51. 12th on the stage but more than enough to win Tirreno-Adriatico overall, 23 seconds ahead of Chris Froome. Alberto Contador finishes 3rd overall.
Today's stage win, of course, goes to Tony Martin, 6 seconds clear of Adriano Malori.
1 Tony Martin (Ger) Omega Pharma-Quick Step 0:10:25
2 Adriano Malori (Ita) Lampre-Merida 0:10:31
3 Andrey Amador Bakkazakova (CRc) Movistar Team 0:10:35
4 Fabian Cancellara (Swi) RadioShack Leopard 0:10:37
5 Jonathan Castroviejo Nicolas (Spa) Movistar Team 0:10:39
6 Christopher Froome (GBr) Sky Procycling 0:10:40
7 Hayden Roulston (NZl) RadioShack Leopard 0:10:45
8 Michal Kwiatkowski (Pol) Omega Pharma-Quick Step 0:10:46
9 Dario Cataldo (Ita) Sky Procycling 0:10:48
10 Alex Dowsett (GBr) Movistar Team 0:10:48
11 Tom Dumoulin (Ned) Team Argos-Shimano 0:10:49
12 Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Astana Pro Team 0:10:51
15 Alberto Contador Velasco (Spa) Team Saxo-Tinkoff 0:10:55
33 Joaquim Rodriguez Oliver (Spa) Katusha 0:11:08
Kwiatowski's fine time trial was enough to move him up to 4th overall, but he was just unable to overhaul Contador and move onto the podium.
Final general classification:
1 Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Astana Pro Team
2 Christopher Froome (GBr) Sky Procycling
3 Alberto Contador Velasco (Spa) Team Saxo-Tinkoff
1 Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Astana Pro Team 28:08:17
2 Christopher Froome (GBr) Sky Procycling 0:00:23
3 Alberto Contador Velasco (Spa) Team Saxo-Tinkoff 0:00:52
4 Michal Kwiatkowski (Pol) Omega Pharma-Quick Step 0:00:53
5 Joaquim Rodriguez Oliver (Spa) Katusha 0:00:54
6 Christopher Horner (USA) RadioShack Leopard 0:01:21
7 Mauro Santambrogio (Ita) Vini Fantini-Selle Italia 0:02:03
8 Andrey Amador Bakkazakova (CRc) Movistar Team 0:02:42
9 Przemyslaw Niemiec (Pol) Lampre-Merida 0:03:19
10 Wouter Poels (Ned) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team 0:03:35
Thanks for joining us on Cyclingnews for our live coverage of Tirreno-Adriatico. A full report, results and pictures will be available here soon, along with all the news from the final day of racing. We'll be back with more live coverage from Milan-San Remo at the weekend.
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