Tirreno-Adriatico 2018: Kwiat Calmly Conquers

Tirreno-Adriatico was sometimes chaotic, sometimes cathartic but always competitive. Sunweb’s GC ambitions were wiped out in crashes, Marcel Kittel got his first win for Katusha and tributes were paid to Michele Scarponi. Sky’s Michal Kwiatkowski won, almost by stealth, Damiano Caruso of BMC was second, also almost by stealth, and Geraint Thomas of Sky came third, despite suffering his typical Italy-induced bad luck.

Rider of the race

Rider of the race is a tough one to decide for this edition. There were some brilliant individual performances on stages but no one had stand-out performances across multiple stages. No rider proved invaluable day after day.

Mention should go to the man who won the whole thing. Michal Kwiatkowski continues in good form and took his second stage race win of the year without any dramas. Kwiatkowski never put a foot wrong and when you look at the names he beat to win this race, it has to be an especially pleasing win for him.

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My rider of the race accolade, however, goes to Movistar’s Mikel Landa. Mainly, but not only, because of his performance on the queen stage on the climb up to Sassotetto. He wasn’t the first to go for it but, when he did, it never once looked like anyone would beat him. As usual, his face and body gave no sign of how much effort he was making – from appearances, he could have been a club rider having a light Saturday spin. His face was impassive, his body still, his style smooth.

You only realise what is going on underneath Landa’s surface when you see the pain engulfing the riders he’s passing. Fabio Aru (UAE) looked ill as he wobbled his way up the gradient. Astana’s Miguel Angel Lopez, who is no slouch on a climb, went backwards at an alarming rate. Landa powered on, looking like he was mulling over what to have for tea rather than how much his legs were hurting.

Landa then got sassy at the Sassotetto post-stage press conference hinting at a great summer ahead. He said leaving Sky for Movistar has given him his personal “marginal gain”. He is “happier” with the Spanish team. He also said he expects Movistar to support him at the Tour de France. That’s a race he’s scheduled to ride with Nairo Quintana and Alexandro Valverde on the same team …

Solid riding and mischief-making interviews? That’ll do for the rider of the race.

Along the way …

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A lot of crashes: Sunweb alone lost Tom Dumoulin, Wilco Kelderman and Simon Geschke to crashes. Fernando Gaviria, Mark Cavendish and Bernie Eisel went home after hitting the deck (with Gaviria out of Milan-SanRemo with a broken hand). The UCI enacted the new smaller team sizes to make races safer. It’s early days but the statistics need to be looked at later this season.

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Scarponi Sunday: Sunday’s stage finished in the late Michele Scarponi’s hometown of Filottrano. Fans and riders paid full tribute to the local hero who was obviously held in great respect. Sometimes cycling gets the tone right.

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Kittel does it: Finally, the first Katusha-powered win for Marcel Kittel. After a rubbish set of results in the Middle East, he easily won the first sprint stage of the race and triumphed again on stage 6. It’s too early to say if he’ll continue this form through the rest of the season but the monkey is off his back. The pressure will have dropped several notches too. (PS that Katusha kit is fast becoming my favourite this year.)

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Fun for all: While the established names were duking it out for stage wins and the overall, there was a cracking battle further down the order for the “lesser” honours. Congratulations go to Jacopo Mosca of Wilier Triestina-Selle Italia who won the points competition and Nicola Bagioli of Nippo-Vini Fantini-Europa Ovini the king of the mountains. [Now we know where EF Education First -Drapac powered by Cannondale got their inspiration for long, complicated team names – Ed]

Final results

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1 Michal Kwiatkowski (Sky) 25:32:56

2 Damiano Caruso (BMC) +o.24

3 Geraint Thomas (Sky) +0.32

4 Tiesj Benoot (Lotto Soudal) +1.06

5 Adam Yates (Mitchelton-Scott) +1.10

6 Mikel Landa (Movistar) +1.13

7 Davide Formolo (Bora-hansgrobe) +1.15

8 Jaime Robson (Movistar) +1.15

9 George Bennett (LottoNL-Jumbo) +1.16

10 Rigoberto Uran (EF Drapac) +1.22

Jerseys

Points classification: Jacopo Mosca (Wilier Triestina-Selle Italia)

Mountains classification: Nicola Bagioli (Nippo-Vini Fantini-Europa Ovini)

Young rider: Tiesj Benoot (Lotto Soudal)

Teams classification: Astana Pro Team

Stage winners

Stage 1 (TTT): BMCFinal KM here

Stage 2: Marcel Kittel (Katusha-Alpecin) – Final KM here

Stage 3: Primoz Roglic (LottoNL-Jumbo) – Final KM here

Stage 4: Mikel Landa (Movistar) – Final KM here

Stage 5: Adam Yates (Mitchelton-SCOTT) – Final KM here

Stage 6: Marcel Kittel (Katusha-Aplecin) – Final KM here

Stage 7: Rohan Dennis (BMC) – Final KM here

Links: Official site is here; Full race review, cyclingnews

Header image: Michal Kwiatkowski ©GETTY/Action Plus/ Laurent Lairys

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