Today we climb! With the stage finishing atop the Terminillo, we expect the final GC to be settled today.
The race starts in about 10 minutes.
Stephen Farrand is our Italian racing expert, and provided us with a great preview of this difficult and decisive stage.
And they're off!
@TirrenAdriatico Sat, 11th Mar 2017 10:04:59
Nairo Quintana (Movistar) is the odds-on favourite to take the win today. But others will have their eye on the prize as well, such as Tom Dumoulin (Team Sunweb), Geraint Thomas (Team Sky), Thibaut Pinot (FDJ), Bob Jungels (Quick-Step Floors), Rohan Dennis (BMC), Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain-Merida), Adam Yates (Orica-Scott) and Fabio Aru (Astana).
After their attacks on stage two, we certainly won't count out Dumoulin and Thomas.
@quickstepteam Sat, 11th Mar 2017 10:14:59
It looks we have a large group about 30 seconds ahead of the field already.
In case you have forgotten, Peter Sagan (Bora-hansgrohe) took the uphill sprint in yesterday’s stage 3 – to the surprise of hardly anyone. Otherwise it was a pretty quiet day. You can read about it here.
The group is not as large as we thought, but six riders is a good number: Davide Ballerini (Androni Giacattoli), Mirco Maestri (Bardiani CSF), Alan Marangoni (Nippo Vini Fantini), Matvey Mamykin (Katusha), Marko Kump (UAE Team Emirates) and Romain Gioux (Novo Nordisk).
We now hear this group has already gotten a nearly five minute gap!
Rohan Dennis took over the race lead from his BMC teammate Greg Van Avermaet. The two have had the same time since stage one but Dennis took the lead yesterday by finishing 24th on the stage, while Van Avermaet finished 59th.
In fact, BMC has the top four places in GC, all with the same time.
1 Rohan Dennis (BMC) 11:07.13
2 Greg Van Avermaet (BMC)
3 Damiano Caruso (BMC)
4 Tejay Van Garderen (BMC)
5 Niki Terpstra (Quick Step Floors) 0:16
Sagan leads the points ranking, ahead of Mirco Maestri (Bardiani) and Geraint Thomas (Sky).
@TirrenAdriatico Sat, 11th Mar 2017 10:46:17
166 km to go, and the gap has jumped to 6:20
It seems safe to say that the mountains ranking will change today, but this is how it is going into today’s stage: Davide Ballerini (Androni Giacatolli) ahead of Alan Marangoni (Nippo-Vini Fantini) and Andrey Amador (Movistar).
Best young rider is Bob Jungels (Quick Step), followed by Adam Yates (Orica Scott) and Soren Kragh Andersen (Sunweb).
BMC is of course atop the team rankings, ahead of Movistar and Astana.
@TirrenAdriatico Sat, 11th Mar 2017 11:11:31
There's climbing action everywhere today! Barry Ryan is giving us the live report on Paris-Nice, check it out!
Today’s stage from Montalto di Castro to Terminillo features two ranked climbs and two intermediate sprints.
The gap is now up to eight minutes.
With 150 km and all the day's difficulties still ahead of them, the group has built up a lead of 9 minutes.
As to the finish, the race website tells us: “The final ascent from Vazia to Mount Terminillo (Campoforogna) is 16.1-km long, with a 7.3% gradient (reaching as high as 12%). ...
This climb features two long stretches with a constant slope of about 7.5-8%, separated by less than two kilometres with a 3-4% gradient in Pian di Rosce.
The two steep sectors have no punchy bits, but they feature no mild stretches, either. Over the last few hundred metres, the gradients are lower than the rest of the climb.
The home stretch in Campoforogna is 200 m long, on 7-m wide, asphalt and slightly uphill (2-3%) road.”
Maestri takes the first intermediate sprint ahead of Ballerini and Kump.
The gap is now nudging the ten-minute mark.
Dennis was happy to pull on the blue jersey yesterday and would be more than happy to wear it until the end of the race. He said that he would be happy to take over if designated leader Tejay Van Garderen falters along the way – which doesn’t really sound like a vote of confidence to us.
57 km into action, the break group has started up the first climb of the day, La Colonetta.
Last year Fernando Gaviria won stage 3 at the same place it was held yesterday. Quick Step did all it could to help repeat that success, but then Gaviria and Tom Boonen were involved in a crash in the final kilometer, leaving them angry and disappointed.
@TirrenAdriatico Sat, 11th Mar 2017 11:55:27
130 km to go and the gap is now 10:15. But we still doubt this group will stay away until the end.
At La Colonetta, the first climb of the day, it was Ballerini ahead of Maestri and Marangoni, with a gap of 10:25
Ballerini is the highest in GC in this group, 103rd at 10:15, which puts him in the virtual leader's jersey.
Peter Sagan is not only a dominant rider but also probably the most spectacular personality in the peloton. "I think it's important to be yourself. We've all got a personality. I think we've got to believe in ourselves," he said after yesterday’s stage.
The last time Tirreno-Adriatico visited the Terminillo in 2015, Quintana won in falling snow and cold. Today, we are happy to report, we have blue skies. There does appear to still be some snow along the way on the climb, but NOT on the road.
@LottoJumbo_road Sat, 11th Mar 2017 12:24:22
Take a look at how the race went down yesterday, with our video highlights here.
@TirrenAdriatico Sat, 11th Mar 2017 12:36:55
93 km to go and the gap is up to 10:50.
An FDJ rider is at the head of the peloton, followed by a whole lot of BMCs.
Peter Sagan and Elia Viviani (Sky) are deep in conversation.
The stage is now half over. We hope that there is more action in the second half than what we have had so far!
The gap is coming down marginally. With 88.8 km to go, it is now "only" 10:23.
@TeamSunweb Sat, 11th Mar 2017 12:51:41
Dave Brailsford is here at the race. The embattled Team Sky principal denied that he has been in hiding and also firmly denied that he will resign.
Either the lead group is getting tired or the peloton is picking up the pace. At the 83 km marker, the gap is down to 9:15.
Steve Farrand is on the scene for us, and tells us, "BMC said that they' would sacrifice two riders to lead the peloton early on to defend the jersey, but they're clearly playing bluff with the other teams to make them work and keep hopes of winning the stage alive."
"It's sunny at the finish, with snow piled up at the side of the road but the road is clear and dry. nothing like last time in 2015," Steve tells us.
Only 7:30 now, with 76 km to go.
We may again see Quintana raising his arms in victory today but we most definitely will not see this kind of weather conditions!
One of the things that will make today's closing climb interesting is the riders going for the stage win as compared to those going for the GC.
Some, like Thomas, Dumoulin and Mollema will no doubt be looking for the stage victory and will race more aggressively, while Denis, van Garderen, Quintana, Pinot and Yates – all better placed - will definitely be thinking about the classification. The different scenario, goals and types of rider should inspire a fascinating race on the road to Terminillo.
Ballerini gets a quick visit from his team car.
And what does BMC have in mind? "Tejay is our main leader, he’s number one. I’m the reserve but Caruso can also be useful. We can be very strong on the climb, with three guys that can do very well. We’ll use all three,” Rohan Dennis said.
“Ideally Tejay is in the front at the top but the worst case scenario is that me or Caruso takes over and we still have someone in contention and in the leadership. Then it comes down to tactics and the final time trial in San Benedetto.”
Maestri jumps from the break group to take the maximum points at the second intermediate sprint. With 82 km to go, the gap has settled in at about 8:15.
Movistar team manager Eusebio Unzue of course thinks Quintana will win the race, but he is keeping things low-key.
“Nairo’s feeling good. He wants to do well but I suspect there will be a group of climbers who fight for the stage victory and every second they can,” Unzue said on Friday, careful not to incite expectation or pressure from rival teams for Movistar to control the race.
“We’ll try again but it could be difficult to make a big difference and even get a gap. We saw that Thomas was very strong and along with Dumoulin, we think they’re the favourites again on Saturday.”
Nicolas Roche, who indicated he would not sign a statement of support for his former boss Dave Brailsford, has also criticised the slow pace of the investigation into Team Sky and British Cycling.
Cannondale's Paddy Bevin has had to abandon the race due to illness.
It's chilly but sunny and a Saturday afternoon, enough reason for lots of fans to get out and watch this race.
55 km and 7:30
FDJ fully involved with BMC in leading the chase.
Mamykin is no longer in the lead group,
Jess Varnish has called on the British Cycling board to resign, after it allegedly changed and "sanitized"the final report on the sexism charges against Shane Sutton.
@stephenfarrand Sat, 11th Mar 2017 13:40:25
46km and 6:30, and Mamykin is back in the lead group.
In 2015 Tirreno-Adriatico finished on Terminillo in the snow, with Nairo Quintana winning alone. He attacked with 5km to go.
Quintana won alone, 41 seconds clear of Bauke Mollema, setting up overall victory. He is the favourite for today's finish too.
The pace has picked up again, dropping to the gap to under six minutes with 40 km left.
The snow covered the road in 2015 but today the road is clear and dry. A tail wind on parts of the climb could make for a fast finish.
Sunweb has moved to the front of the field and is really giving full gas. Guess that Dumoulin is feeling good and wants to go for the stage win.
33.3 km and 4:20.
Congratulations to World Champion Amalie Dideriksen, who won today in the Ronde va Drenthe. No "rainbow jersey curse" for her!
Lotto Soudal has joined Sunweb in the front, and behind them some gaps are forming. The favourites have to be very attentive!
@TirrenAdriatico Sat, 11th Mar 2017 14:30:11
24 km and 2:53. LottoNL-Jumbo now at the front.
A crash in a roundabout, with three riders down but all quickly up and going again.
The attacks out f the lead group have started, with Mamykin, Ballerini and Kump going off.
The three work well together but have only a 1:59 lead.
Kump now has to drop back, but the first two have built their lead back up to 2:12 with 20 km to go.
The snow-covered Terminillo is now looming ahead of the riders. In only two km the two leaders will start their way up.
Mamykin has gone over the side, literally.. He braked wrong, slid across the road and went under the guard rail, taking his bike with him. We sure hope he is ok!
Ballerini starts his solo way up the climb. The peloton is less than 130 back, and strung out.
We are happy to see Mamykin back on hs bike!
UAE Team Emirates now at the front. Perhaps Rui Costa is ready to go for it. The gap is ow under a minute.
Mamykin is back in the peloton. He lost lycra and skin but otherwise looks ok.
@Lotto_Soudal Sat, 11th Mar 2017 14:54:17
Ballerini still has 38 seconds, but looks far from fresh.
Last year's winner Van Avermaet at the back of the peloton. The group is smaller, as the sprinters have already bailed and formed the gruppetto.
Ballerini os caught with13 km to go. A group of five is slightly ahead of the field, and he hangs on to them, at least for the moment.
Kwiatkowski and Kreuziger are amongst those in teh lead group. Ballerini has been dropped.
Castroviejo (Movistar), Kreziger (Orica-Scott), Lammertink (Katusha), Spilak (Katusha) and Kwiatkowski (Sky) are the new leaders. Or were. Lammertink has already dropped back.
10.6 km to go -- and all uphill! The first group has some 20 seconds.
Castroviejo, Spilak and Kwiatkowski now alone in the lead, with 9.8 km and 38 seconds.
Pelozotti of Bahrain Merida now at the front of the chasing field. The gap has grown to 41 seconds.
The favourites are all still together in the peloton, in fact Dumoulin and Aru are side by side.
Bahrain Merida, Sky, Sunweb in that order at the front of the field. 7.4 km and 42 seconds.
Two years ago the riders climbed up the Terminillo in snow and cold. Today they have sun and some even have their jerseys open.
Castroviejo falls back. Either he can't keep up, or he is under orders to wait for Quintana.
With 6.6 km, Dumoulin takes off. He has a good gap and now is building it up nicely.
Dumoulin's gap is holding steady. It could be larger... and now it is definitely shrinking.
With 5.7 km he is caught. However his attack served to shrink the field.
Spilak atakes off and Kwiatkowski cannot follow.
There are about 20 riders in the favourites' group now.
That group is getting smaller, and Aru falls out the back. The attacks start.
At the 5 km marker, Dumoulin tries again but they won't let him go.
Adam Yates goes, followed by Geraint Thomas. They have a small gap.
More riders catch up to them, but Dumoulin is not among them.
Dennis is no longer in the favourites' group.
Uran, Yates, Thomas, Quintana amonst those in the lead. Van Garderen is trying to hang on.
With 3.3km to go, Spilak hangs on to a 19 second lead.
Dumoulin has caught up with teh small group. They are about to catch Castroviejo, so Quintana will have a helper.
2.6 km and Quintana attacks. Thomas and Uran are right behind him, though.
Quintana goes again. Spilak is only a few meters ahead of him. N
Quintana has passed Spila and takes off alone. HE is buildig up a nice gap with 1.5 km to go, as the others struggle behind to catch him.
Quintana has now clearly pulled away. He has 47 seconds over race leader Rohan Dennis.
Thomas passes Spilak, and Yates and URan are behind them together in the chase.
Final km for Quintana.
No barriers here until .5 km to go.
He is up out of the saddle on the final meters.
He needs to win by as much as he can, as he will lose tie eventually in the time trial.
And Nairo Quintana crosses the finish line to win here a second tie!
Thomas crosses the finish line second, at 17 seconds. Yates is third, closely followed by Uran.
Dennis comes in at about 1:15 down. He can take off that leader's jersey now.
Top ten on the stage:
1 Nairo Quintana (Col) Movistar Team 5:27:22
2 Geraint Thomas (GBr) Team Sky 0:00:18
3 Adam Yates (GBr) Orica-Scott 0:00:24
4 Rigoberto Uran (Col) Cannondale-Drapac
5 Simon Spilak (Slo) Katusha-Alpecin 0:00:29
6 Tom Dumoulin (Ned) Team Sunweb 0:00:41
7 Domenico Pozzovivo (Ita) AG2R La Mondiale
8 Mikel Landa (Spa) Team Sky
9 Thibaut Pinot (Fra) FDJ 0:00:46
10 Primoz Roglic (Slo) Team LottoNl-Jumbo 0:00:51
This of course gives Quintana the overall lead. It will be the first time in the race that someone other than a BMC rider has held the lead.
This stage has, of course, turned the GC topsy-turvy. Here is how it looks now:
1 Nairo Quintana (Col) Movistar Team 16:34:46
2 Adam Yates (GBr) Orica-Scott 0:00:33
3 Thibaut Pinot (Fra) FDJ 0:00:56
4 Jonathan Castroviejo (Spa) Movistar Team 0:01:01
5 Rohan Dennis (Aus) BMC Racing Team 0:01:06
6 Tom Dumoulin (Ned) Team Sunweb 0:01:19
7 Primoz Roglic (Slo) Team LottoNl-Jumbo
8 Geraint Thomas (GBr) Team Sky 0:01:23
9 Daniel Moreno (Spa) Movistar Team 0:01:27
10 Domenico Pozzovivo (Ita) AG2R La Mondiale 0:01:29
Things aren't going to be much easier for the riders tomorrow, as they tackle 210 km from Rieti to Fermo. It has been dubbed the 'Muri' or wall stage due to the series of short, steep climbs in the final 90km of the 210km stage.
Nlo doubt many teams will now be looking over to Paris-Nice to see how their rivals in that race are doing. This win is certainly also a moral victory for Quintana and will put him one up on, for example, Contador.
That was it for today! Please take the time to check our our race report here, and of course join us again tomorrow for more!
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