Tirreno-Adriatico starts Wednesday. Il via mercoledì!
Are you wondering why you should be interested in this race? Well, first off, it has the best race poster in the history of the world. Who knew Pipeline had moved to Italy? And that bike racers could surf. This is a revelation. Second of all, Tirreno-Adriatico is in Italy. What's not to like about a bike race in Italy? Nothing. There’s nothing not to like. Third... Well, okay, you get the idea. You want to follow this race. Really, you do.
Run concurrently with Paris-Nice, Tirreno-Adriatico draws a more sprinty and more Italian field than the French Race to the Sun. This short Italian stage race serves as the traditional prep for Milano-Sanremo, the sprinters’ classic, and the profile generally smiles upon the fast dudes. This year’s edition eschews the difficult climb to Montelupone, which so enlivened last year’s proceedings. The race also appears to ride in circles on several occasions. Running from west to east across Italy, Tirreno-Adriatico starts in Livorno and finishes in San Benedetto del Tronto. And because it wouldn’t be a race in Italy without a massive transfer, there is a rather lengthy transfer between stages three and four.
Here is your stage list:
Stage 1, Wednesday: Livorno - Rosignano Solvay. 184 km. Mostly flat.
Stage 2, Thursday: Montecatini Terme - Montecatini Terme. 165 km. Circuit, short climbs, descending finish.
Stage 3, Friday: San Miniato - Monsummano Terme. 159 km. Two short climbs, flat finish.
Stage 4, Saturday: Sangemini - Chieti. 243 km. Uphill finish.
Stage 5, Sunday: Chieti - Colmurano. 234 km. Look! A climb! Descending finish.
Stage 6, Monday: Montecosaro - Macerata. 134 km. Uphill finish.
Stage 7, Tuesday: Civitanova Marche - San Benedotto del Tronto. 164 km. So flat!
Now, you should not be thinking this Tirreno-Adriatico is all flat, all the time. Just because the sprinters are showing up doesn’t mean there won’t be hills. This is Italy we’re talking about. Italian racing doesn’t really do flat, at least, not that often. This Tirreno is not flat, but certainly, there are no major mountain stages to make the sprinters cry.
Here is the super-informative profile:
The hardest climb shows up on stage 5 between Chieti and Colmurano. The Forca di Presto summits at 1535 meters, which is a nice climb, but it’s not the Stelvio or anything. The Forca di Presto is conveniently placed around midway through the stage, and from the summit, the stage descends in stair-steps to the finish. Inconveniently, no detailed profile of the climb appears readily at hand. So, it’ll be a surprise. I do like a good surprise. A few climbers have signed up for the Due Mare. Robert Gesink, team-mates Vincenzo Nibali and Franco Pellizotti, Cadel Evans, Michele Scarponi, and Thomas Löfkvist will likely wish to stretch their legs on this stage.
Got uphill finishes? There are two uphill finishes, stage 4 in Chieti and stage 6 in Macerata. Both are the kind of short, uphill jumps that Italian racing loves so much. I call them Bettini Finishes, since Bettini did them so nicely. Edvald Boasson-Hagen, Giovanni Visconti, Filippo Pozzato, Stefano Garzelli, and Luca Paolini all do these quick uphills well, and unlike Bettini, they are actually racing this Tirreno-Adriatico. You must be present to win.
Look Who's Racing
This race boasts quite the Cast of Characters. The organizers decided to diss’ The Team The Shack, due to the shocking disinterest of the team in the Giro d’Italia. Seriously? You don’t want to spend three weeks racing your bikes around Italy? I am nonplussed. My nonplussedness notwithstanding - and my excessive wordiness aside - no The Team The Shack at this Tirreno-Adriatico. Also, Gazzetta seems to think that Samuel Sánchez is racing Tirreno-Adriatico. That would be quite impossible, since he rode today’s stage of Paris-Nice. I feel certain that being in two places in the same time would violate the WADA code.
In the sprint field, we will have: Mark Cavendish, making his season début, after a tooth ache delayed the beginning of his season. Daniele Bennati. Eat your heart out Paris-Nice. Tom Boonen will also start in Livorno, though he has claimed in recent seasons that he’s just not that into bunch sprinting anymore. Whatevs, Tom. Alessandro Petacchi crashed while out training earlier this week, but he announced Tuesday that he will start all the same. Oscar Freire would no doubt like to win another Milano-Sanremo. So he’s going to ride Tirreno-Adriatico to get ready. Tyler Farrar just got third at the Omloop, and he’s going to Livorno. Maybe he can beat Cavendish again. He did it once, why not again?
Riders of the general classification persuasion include: Cadel Evans of BMC, Edvald Boasson-Hagen and Thomas Löfkvist of Team Sky, Robert Gesink of Rabobank, Michael Rogers and Marco Pinotti of HTC-Columbia, Vincenzo Nibali and Franco Pellizotti of Liquigas-Doimo, Roberto Uran of Caisse d’Epargne, Linus Gerdemann of Milram, Michele Scarponi of Androni-Diquigiovanni, Stefano Garzelli of Acqua e Sapone, Kim Kirchen of Katusha, and Alexandre Vinokourov of Astana. Alessandro Ballan of BMC will also start, but he’s here for the training. Likewise for Filippo Pozzato, Luca Paolini, and Roger Hammond. Cobbles, baby!
Here in the U.S., Universal Sports will stream this thingy live daily. Yay! If you are agonizing over how to divide your time with Paris-Nice, I would say stages 4, 5, and 6 are the most interesting at Tirreno-Adriatico this year. Of course, Saturday and Sunday are the big stages at Paris-Nice, too. What was that about two places at the same time? Well, I’ll leave you to work out this space-time conundrum.
In the meantime, it’s currently snowing in Livorno. Like, lots of snowing. That could make for an interesting stage tomorrow, no? One of Cadel Evans’s team-mates dashed out to the store today to buy scuba gloves. Neoprene, wise choice.
Update! Now, with detailed stage info!
And, no Gerhard Ciolek for you. Bad Gazzetta!