Live coverage of stage 1 of Tirreno-Adriatico, a 5.4km time trial at Lido di Camaiore.
It's probably safe to assume there aren't too many climate change deniers employed at RCS Sport. Certainly, we're reaching a point where it wouldn't feel like an RCS race without global warming making its effects felt, what with the Milan-San Remo of two halves in 2013, the cancellation and reduction of stages at that year's Giro d'Italia, and that infamous snowbound stage over the Stelvio last season. This year it's Tirreno-Adriatico's turn to be affected by extremes of weather. High winds along the Tuscan coast over the weekend left trees and debris along the roads between Camaiore and Forte dei Marmi, forcing a change to our scheduled programming this afternoon: the planned 22km team time trial has fallen by the wayside, replaced by a 5.4km individual test in Lido di Camaiore.
Indeed, the time trial underwent a further (minor) modification this morning. On Monday, RCS announced a 5.7km course, but it has since been trimmed by a further 300 metres.
The first man off was Davide Villella (Cannondale-Garmin) but the fastest man so far is BMC's Daniel Oss, who scorched around the course in a time of 6:08. The Italian is hardly going to stay in the hot seat too long, but he has shown signs of form in the early weeks of the season and it's an encouraging augury for his cobbled classics campaign.
The riders are setting off at one-minute intervals and so far some 69 of our 175 starters have crossed the finish line. Edvald Boasson Hagen (MTN-Qhubeka) came closest to matching Oss, though he was still four seconds shy of his time.
Meanwhile on RAI's television coverage, David Millar's former teammate Massimiliano Lelli is testing the parcours and asking local residents about the weather conditions that truncated today's racing. "It wasn't wind, it was a hurricane," says one resident. Lelli nods intently.
Ryder Hesjedal (Cannondale-Garmin) struggled to find his tempo on the course, recording a time of 6:27.
Despite the fluctuations in his biological passport, Roman Kreuziger (Tinkoff-Saxo) remains free to race pending a Court of Arbitration for Sport hearing. The Czech stops the clock in a time of 6:18.
Defending champion Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo) will be the last man off today, with stage contenders Luke Durbridge, Fabian Cancellara also among last group of starters. Some start times (all times CET) to keep a note of include:
Leopold König (Cze) Team Sky 14:40:00
Joaquim Rodríguez (Spa) Katusha 14:54:00
Julian Arredondo (Col) Trek Factory Racing 14:55:00
Niki Terpstra (Ned) Etixx-QuickStep 15:13:00
Svein Tuft (Can) Orica-GreenEdge 15:14
Joanthan Castroviejo (Spa) Movistar 15:15
Damien Gaudin (Fra)AG2R La Mondiale 15:19
Peter Sagan (Svk) Tinkoff-Saxo 15:20
Matthias Brändle (Aut) IAM Cycling 15:27
Bauke Mollema (Ned) Trek Factory Racing 15:39
Filippo Pozzato (Ita) Lampre-Merida 15:45
Salvatore Puccio (Ita) Team Sky 15:46
Sonny Colbrelli (Ita) Bardiani CSF 15:47
Stephen Cummings (GBr) MTN-Qhubeka 15:48
Roger Kluge (Ger) IAM Cycling 15:49
Jürgen Van Den Broeck (Bel) Lotto-Soudal 15:50
Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Astana 15:51
Sep Vanmarcke (Bel) LottoNL-Jumbo 15:52
Sam Bennett (Irl) Bora-Argon 15:53
Miguel Angel Rubiano Chavez (Col) Colombia 15:54
Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) BMC 15:55
Pierre Rolland (Fra) Europcar 15:56
Rigoberto Uran (Col) Etixx-QuickStep 15:57
Luke Durbridge (Aus) Orica-GreenEdge 15:58
Nairo Quintana (Col) Movistar 15:59
Aleksandr Porsev (Rus) Katusha 16:00
Fabian Cancellara (Swi) Trek Factory Racing 16:01
Tom Veelers (Ned) Giant-Alpecin 16:02
Rinaldo Nocentini (Ita) AG2R La Mondiale 16:03
Alberto Contador (Spa) Tinkoff-Saxo 16:04
An important name missing from that list is Adriano Malori (Movistar), who sets off at 15:37 local time. The Italian won the short concluding time trials at Tirreno-Adriatico and the Vuelta a Espana last year, and kicked off 2015 with time trial victory at the Tour de San Luis in Argentina.
Daniele Bennati (Tinkoff-Saxo) is always motivated when racing in his home region of Tuscany and he had the second quickest time at the midway point. He's faded in the back end of the course, however, and comes home 11 seconds down on Oss.
Antignano's finest, Stephen Farrand, was at yesterday's pre-race press conference, and he spoke to Tinkoff-Saxo manager Bjarne Riis about the Cycling Independent Reform Commission report. You can read the story here.
Non-starters made the headlines in the run-up to this Tirreno-Adriatico. Chris Froome's late withdrawal drew the ire of organiser Mauro Vegni, who complained that Sky hadn't seen fit to inform RCS Sport directly of his absence. Marcel Kittel (Giant-Shimano) also pulled out on Monday, while Tuesday of course, saw Lloyd Mondory (Ag2r-La Mondiale) out of the race when it emerged that he had tested positive for EPO in an out-of-competition test.
Strade Bianche winner Zdenek Stybar (Etixx-QuickStep) is out on the course. The lie of the land has changed dramatically for the Czech in the past couple of days. That win, allied to the crash that rules Tom Boonen out of the classics, mean that Stybar seems destined for a leadership role at the Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix. Niki Terpstra, the man who will share the load, is also on hand here, and a contender for stage honours today.
Stybar finishes in a time of 6:18, ten seconds off the day's early pace-setter, Daniel Oss.
Davide Formolo (Cannondale-Garmin) is three kilometres into his test, and he shows no signs of trepidation as he hurtles through a chicane of sorts. He spoke to Cyclingnews about the state of Italian cycling and his long-term hopes, and you can read that interview here.
Formolo comes home with the 64th best time so far, some 23 seconds down on Oss.
Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha) didn't have the television cameras for company out on the course, but word is reaching us that the Catalan recorded a time 27 seconds slower than Oss. Rodriguez's time trialling has improving enormously since his dramatic collapse at Penafiel at the 2010 Vuelta a Espana, but it remains his obvious weakness.
Today's time trial is essentially on an out-and-back course, with a tailwind puffing the riders out towards the intermediate time check and then a headwind stalling their progress on the way back. Oss pitched his effort well on the course, however. He was a second slower than Boasson Hagen in the tailwind section but picked up five seconds on the Norwegian in the back end of the course.
Niki Terpstra (Etixx-Quickstep) has started his effort. He has yet to hit the intermediate time check but he has looked very smooth indeed through the opening kilometres. The Dutchman already has a time trial win to his name this season, as his victory in the short test at the Tour of Qatar set him up for overall victory there.
Terpstra falls four seconds shy of Oss' time at the finish line. He clocks 6:12 for the provisional third best time to date.
Svein Tuft (Orica-GreenEdge), meanwhile, comes across the line in 6:21, 13 seconds off Oss' tiime.
Jonathan Castroviejo (Movistar) comes home with the second best time to date, but still four seconds down on Oss. The BMC rider's time is now starting to resist the efforts of some very solid time time triallists indeed. Jesse Sergent (Trek) will be the next man across the finish line....
And Sergent, too, falls seven seconds short of Oss. His time of 6:18 is good enough for 10th best so far.
Peter Sagan (Tinkoff-Saxo) clipped a pavement early on and almost came a cropper but he recovered his composure to put together a fine time trial. The Slovak crosses the line in 6:10, just two seconds down on Oss. Only for that incident, Sagan would surely be in the hot seat right now.
Just before Sagan, 2013 Paris-Nice prologue winner Damien Gaudin (Ag2r-La Mondiale) came home in 6:13, good enough for 6th best to date. Ian Stannard (Sky) is currently out on the course but doesn't appear to be taking any undue risks. He was 15 seconds down on Sagan at the intermediate check.
Stannard reaches the finish line 16 seconds down on Oss' time.
Former world hour record holder Matthias Brandle (IAM Cycling) hits the line with the new quickest time. His 6:06 is two seconds quicker than what Daniel Oss managed.
The on-screen graphic suggested that Brändle was going to have to average in excess of 60kph in the final kilometre to take the quickest time. Assuming, of course, that the flamme rouge is in the right place after the changes to the parcours.
Adriano Malori, meanwhile, is safely through the section that almost took out Peter Sagan and is pedalling very fluidly indeed.
Mark Cavendish (Etixx-QuickStep) fine tunes his Milan-Sanremo preparation at Tirreno-Adriatico and he's off to a decent start here. He clocks a time of 6:16, ten seconds down on Brandle.
Malori climbs out of the saddle and sprints the final 200 metres. He stops the clock in 6:04 for the day's new quickest time, two seconds clear of Brandle. The man from Parma averaged 53.406kph over the 5.4km course.
A time of 6:19 for Bauke Mollema (Trek), who would doubtless have preferred to kick off his Tirreno-Adriatico with a team time trial in the company of his new colleague Fabian Cancellara...
Tinkoff-Saxo's Maciej Bodnar comes close to springing a surprise and topping Malori's time. He stops the clock in 6:06, good enough for provisional second place with 22 riders still to finish.
Vincenzo Nibali is in the start house to the strains of The Strokes' "Last Night." "It’s clear that Contador is the man to beat, he’s won early, he’s trained a lot at altitude, he’s the one who’s started strongest," Nibali said last, er, evening. "We’ll see how it goes day by day for me. I’ll certainly try to do well, but it’s not easy. I started badly last year but I turned it around. This time I’ve started a lot better but others have done more altitude work early in the season but my targets are later in the year."
Nibali was very cautious through a couple of early corners. The Sicilian won't want to take undue risks here.
Steve Cummings has probably been the best of MTN-Qhubeka's new signings so far this season and he's produced a very solid time trial here. The Englishman records the 6th best time so far, six seconds down on Malori.
Nibali hit the time check in 3:44, four seconds off the pace.
Nibali finishes in a time of 6:15, 11 seconds down on Malori. He shouldn't concede too much time to Contador et al this afternoon.
Nibali finishes in a time of 6:15, 11 seconds down on Malori. Whatever follows, he certainly won't concede too much time to his GC rivals this afternoon.
Greg Van Avermaet (BMC) surprises by recording a time of 6:06, just two seconds behind Malori. The Belgian is riding under a cloud following his implication in the Dr Chris Mertens investigation, though he postponed his hearing before the Belgian Cycling Federation to ensure that he could race here.
Rigoberto Uran (Etixx-QuickStep) is one second quicker than Nibali over the course, clocking a time of 6:14.
Nairo Quintana (Movistar) struggled on the short course and crosses the line in a time of 6:25. He has, however, limited his losses to Nibali and Uran to 10 and 11 seconds, respectively.
Fabian Cancellara (Trek Factory Racing) just - just - misses out on Malori's time. The Swiss rider hits the line in 6:05 just one second down on Malori, good enough for second place on the stage.
Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo) spent an unfeasible amount of time out of the saddle in the final kilometre, which certainly didn't help his aerodynamic profile. He clocks a time of 6:23, 19 seconds down on Malori. More pertinently, he loses 8 seconds to Nibali and 9 to Uran.
Adriano Malori (Movistar) wins stage 1 of Tirreno-Adriatico.
1 Adriano Malori (Ita) Movistar Team 00:06:04
2 Fabian Cancellara (Swi) Trek Factory Racing 00:00:01
3 Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) BMC Racing Team 00:00:02
4 Maciej Bodnar (Pol) Tinkoff-Saxo
5 Matthias Brandle (Aut) IAM Cycling
6 Daniel Oss (Ita) BMC Racing Team 00:00:04
7 Ramunas Navardausaks 00:00:05
8 Stephen Cummings (GBr) MTN - Qhubeka 00:00:06
9 Peter Sagan (Svk) Tinkoff-Saxo
10 Johan Le Bon
“It’s an amazing day, I’ll get to wear the jersey too, so it’s special,” Malori says. “I didn’t think I’d win because on a course like this, 'Cance' is the best rider in the world. I’m very happy and there’s the time trial in San Benedetto del Tronto too, which is straighter and should suit me.”
Meanwhile, over at Paris-Nice, Michael Matthews (Orica-GreenEdge) has moved into the overall lead after winning in Saint-Pourçain-sur-Sioule. Full report and results will follow here.
Thanks for joining our live coverage from Tirreno-Adriatico this afternoon. The full report, results and pictures will follow here. We'll also have all the news and reaction from the Tuscan coast from a stage that saw Alberto Contador and Nairo Quintana concede some early - but by no means fatal - ground in the battle for final overall victory. We'll be back with live coverage on Cyclingnews tomorrow, as the peloton goes from Camaiore to Cascina.
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