The build-up to Milan-San Remo and the Giro d’Italia continues with Tirreno-Adriatico (the ‘Race of the Two Seas’), a challenging week-long race which increasingly serves as a form guide for both the Giro and the Tour de France. This year it boasts a stellar line-up of both former and aspiring grand tour champions.
- The race has followed the same format since 2011: an opening team time trial on the Tyrrhenian coast before the race wends its way eastwards to the Adriatic, concluding with a short individual time trial in San Benedetto del Tronto.
- There are a couple of opportunities for the pure sprinters, but the GC contenders will come to the fore on the middle three stages.
- Stage three features a punchy 1km climb to an uphill finish in Arezzo which favours the puncheurs.
- The fourth stage concludes with a 14km climb to a summit finish at Selva Rotonda at the end of a 240km-plus day.
- And stage five’s finish on the Muro di Guardiagrele averages 22%, has a 30% section at its beginning and touches 29% on its final bend. Ouch.
- All 18 WorldTour teams will take part, plus wild-cards Bardiani-CSF, IAM and NetApp-Endura. Each team has eight riders.
- The overall leader wears a blue jersey, the maglia azzurra.
- Two of the last three winners have gone on to win a grand tour in the same season: Cadel Evans (2011, Tour) and Vincenzo Nibali (2013, Giro). Evans is also the only non-European winner in the race’s history.
- Belgium’s Roger de Vlaeminck won Tirreno-Adriatico six years in a row between 1972 and 1977. By contrast, Eddy Merckx never won this race.
Who to watch
This year’s startlist reads like a grand tour line-up, with many of the top names who will be chasing success at the Giro d’Italia or Tour de France present.
The one notable absence is 2012 and 2013 winner Vincenzo Nibali (Astana), who is at Paris-Nice. However, a field which includes Sky’s Richie Porte (a late stand-in for the injured Chris Froome) and Bradley Wiggins, Tour runner-up Nairo Quintana (Movistar), Cadel Evans (BMC), and Belkin’s Robert Gesink and Bauke Mollema promises a fierce battle for GC honours.
Watch out also for the Tinkoff-Saxo trio of Alberto Contador, Nicolas Roche and Roman Kreuziger – all 2013 grand tour top-five finishers – to wreak havoc with multiple attacks on the big climbs. And, if they are allowed to race freely, watch out for the battle for supremacy at Omega Pharma-Quick Step between new signing Rigoberto Uran and Volta ao Algarve and Strade Bianche winner Michal Kwiatkowski, who is in red-hot form.
BLOG: Strade Bianche review: King Kwiatkowski
If you’re looking for a dark horse, keep an eye on Andrew Talansky. The 25-year-old American will lead Garmin-Sharp as he looks to build on a break-out 2013 season which saw him finish runner-up behind Porte at Paris-Nice and then tenth at the Tour.
In the sprints, we will see Marcel Kittel (Giant-Shimano), Andre Greipel (Lotto-Belisol) and Mark Cavendish (OPQS) clash for the first time since the Tour, with others such as the in-form Sacha Modolo (Lampre-Merida) and Arnaud Demare (FDJ) eager to cause an upset.
The brutal uphill finishes of stages three and five will certainly attract Kwiatkowski, but Cannondale’s Peter Sagan will be out to avenge Saturday’s Strade Binache defeat, and others such as former world champion Philippe Gilbert (BMC), Contador and Quintana will also be eyeing the opportunity for stage wins.
As for the concluding ITT, Wiggins will relish the opportunity to test his form. He’ll face stiff competition for the win from multiple TT world champions Tony Martin (OPQS) and Fabian Cancellara (Trek).
From the wild-card teams, watch out for IAM’s Heinrich Haussler (especially if it’s as wet as last year’s race), recent Clasica de Almeria winner Sam Bennett (NetApp-Endura) and Bardiani-CSF’s Stefano Pirazzi, the mountains jersey winner at the 2013 Giro.
March 12th: Stage 1 – Donoratico to San Vincenzo, 18.5km team time trial
March 13th: Stage 2 – San Vincenzo to Cascina, 166km
March 14th: Stage 3 –Cascina to Arezzo, 210km
March 15th: Stage 4 – Indicatore (Arezzo) – Cittareale (Selva Rotonda), 244km
March 16th: Stage 5 –Amatrice to Guardiagrele, 192km
March 17th: Stage 6 –Bucchianico to Porto Sant’Elpidio, 189km
March 18th: Stage 7 –San Benedetto del Tronto. 9.1km individual time trial
Daily live coverage and highlights will be shown by Eurosport in the UK. For other coverage check cyclingfans.com.
Link: Official website