There's a common thread that pervades all previews of stage races this time of year, namely that it's nearly impossible to reliably predict where selections will happen and who might be interested in making them.
But this year's race across the Boot could be more intriguing than usual, at least according to Bicirace's preview.
But first, a few fun facts.
- Tirreno-Adriatico is even more cavalierly named than Paris-Nice. This year's edition makes no effort whatsoever to pass by the Tyrrhenian Sea, taking off inland at Tivoli and making directly for the Adriatic. At least Paris-Nice's organizers can say they moved the race start to the suburbs for practical reasons.
- On a more positive note, the race will pass through the ancestral homelands of both yours truly and Mr. Van P., although to hear the media tell it the only person from Abruzzi is Danilo DiLuca.
- As of this writing, there remains a possibility that the race will be won by a non-Belgian. Bears watching.
Anyway, the argument that the race is for sprinters is belied by the fact that past winners include all-rounders like Pippo Pozzato, David Rebellin, and Abraham Olano. Also, this year's course doesn't bode especially well for defending champ Oscar Freire. Sunday's 20k TT has a pretty lumpy profile, and Monday's race to San Giacomo finishes with two long climbs of indeterminate difficulty (unless you can decipher Bicirace's hand-drawn course map).
Luminaries include: Pozzato, Rebellin, Freire, Paolo Bettini, Robbie McEwen, Ale-Jet and his new German leadout man, il Falco, Andreas Kloden, Mr. Van Petegem, and three time winner of the most threatening name competition Angel Vicioso.