Tirreno-Adriatico Preview

Tuesday, 5 March 2013

Tirreno Adriatico

With daily previews of Paris-Nice and other features on here, covering Tirreno-Adriatico looked like a step too far but at the same time it’s an unmissable race with a stellar start list, whether the overall contenders or for the sprinters and classics contenders.

So this week I’m teaming up with Mikkel Condé of C-Cycling to supply him with Paris-Nice previews whilst in return this site will be showcasing his Tirren0-Adriatico analysis. His previews are excellent… and often bolder than mine with sharp picks for the wins. So without delay, here’s the first of the daily Tirreno-Adriatico C-Cycling previews, starting with the overall contenders for the race. I’ve added details on TV coverage at the end.


The Favorites:
Looking at the start list there are at least six or seven riders with a real chance of winning this year’s Tirreno-Adriatico. First up is Alberto Contador. This is one of the (very) few stage races Contador hasn’t won yet and he is eager to add Tirreno to his palmares. He wanted to come here and win last year, but ended up sidelined for the most of the season instead. Unlike the last couple of years, Contador is now very focused on not peaking before the Tour. He started out a couple of kilos heavier that normally and that was probably why he couldn’t shake the peloton as he normally does in Tour of Oman. I think Contador will be a lot better already and I would be surprised not to see him on the final podium.

My personal pick for the overall win is Joaquim ‘Purito’ Rodriguez. This year Purito is set to peak in April – not in May like last year – and that means his shape is already very good. He showed in Oman that he’s stronger than the other favorites and with 10 bonus seconds on the line each day, I think Purito can make up for this poor time trial skills by winning in Chieti and probably on Prati di Tivo as well. Purito is coming to Tirreno with big ambitions of winning the race overall and I doubt the other candidates will be able to drop him at any point.

Chris Froome seems to be preparing himself for the Tour de France the same way Bradley Wiggins did last year. He won Tour of Oman overall and with a strong team to protect him in Tirreno, he will be up there again. Still, it’s important to remember this is a very difficult race to control. Stage 4 is pretty straight forward but stage 5 and 6 are up and down the most of the day and Froome needs to keep a tight leash on Purito if he wants to win his second stage race of the season. Froome should be able to count on a strong time trial the last day, but unless he’s within 10-15 seconds of Purito I doubt it will be enough.

Last year’s winner Vincenzo Nibali will be motivated to defend his title with number 1 on the back, but this year’s field is a lot stronger than last year and I doubt Nibali will be able to drop any of the three mentioned riders above. Astana bring a very strong team to look after him and Nibali and count on support from Tiralongo and Brajkovic in the mountains. Still that doesn’t help much if The Shark isn’t able to drop his rivals. Stage 3 and 6 could be two good opportunities for Nibali to put in a few surprise attacks on the undulating roads, but I’m sure I’m not the only one aware of that.

Cadel Evans started out his season in Tour of Oman and that in a very strong way. He distanced Contador and Nibali on Green Mountain and finished 3rd overall. Evans won Tirreno in 2011 and he has a super team for the opening TTT to help him get the perfect start. If everything works out perfectly for Evans and BMC on the team time trial, he could have a gap of up to 20-30 seconds on his rivals before Prati di Tivo and then he’ll be difficult to overtake. Evans knows the finish in Chieti very well too and even though I won’t pick him as my personal favorite, I won’t be surprised to see him win overall either.

The way I see it the five mentioned riders are the top favorites for this year’s Tirreno-Adriatico. Just behind these we’ll find riders like Samuel Sanchez, Bauke Mollema, Chris Horner and Damiano Cunego. All expected to do a great race too. Andy Schleck is here too, so just in case you don’t see him during the race, now you know.

It’s very difficult to point out a joker for top GC result with so many strong riders in the race. Still I would like to mention the young Cannondale talent Damiano Caruso. Caruso has been favorite of mine for quite some years now and he showed his strength last year in the Giro wearing the white jersey while supporting team leader Ivan Basso. This year Caruso will get more responsibility and after a good winter season and a strong training camp on Tenerife last month, he should be ready to try his luck. His main goals are the classics next month, but together with Moreno Moser, Caruso should be able to do well in the GC. Maybe even top10 overall.

For other outsiders look to in-shape Rinaldo Nocentini, Michal Kwiatkowski, Eros Capecchi and Mauro Santambrogio. And don’t forget Spanish climber Sergio Pardilla, riding for MTN-Qhubeka p/b Samsung. The African team are making their World Tour debut in Tirreno-Adriatico and while they may not be among the strongest in the team time trial, they are bringing very good riders in Pardilla and Gerald Ciolek. The German sprinter just won the last stage of Driedaagse van West-Vlaanderen last weekend and he’s very eager to challenge Mark Cavendish and Andre Greipel in the mass sprints. Sergio Pardilla will probably lose time in the two time trials, which minimizes his chancer overall, but he should be able to show off the African team’s colors on Prati di Tivo on stage 4.

The Sprinters:
This is not just a race with all the best GC riders, it’s also the first chance this year to see Mark Cavendish and Andre Greipel go head-to-head in a mass sprint. Depending on how the stages evolve, stage 2 could be only opportunity to see the two super stars against each other, but don’t forget we also have Peter Sagan, Arnaud Demare, John Degenkolb, Tyler Farrar, Roberto Ferrari, Thor Hushovd, Francesco Chicchi, Matt Goss, Giacomo Nizzolo, Gerald Ciolek and many more sprinters in the race!

The trophy:
Tirreno-Adriatico is famous for its handcrafted trident shaped Sea Master trophy and it’s always entertaining to watch the trophy arise from the ocean and follow its way to the podium. Stefano Garzelli won the race overall in 2011 and told me afterwards that his son saw the podium ceremony on TV and wonderingly asked his mother: “Mama, where are we supposed to put that trophy?”

Top10
It seems like an impossible task to do, but I will try to make a pre-Top10 of this year’s Tirreno-Adriatico anyway. Remember, the first four riders all have an equal chance of winning the race. Here we go:

1. Purito
2. Contador
3. Evans
4. Froome
5. Nibali
6. Mollema
7. Horner
8. Samu
9. Cunego
10. Nocentini

C-Cycling

Preview courtesy of C-Cycling. Remember you can follow Mikel Condé on Twitter as @mrconde

  • To add a note, the race is live on TV with home broadcaster RAI. The free Gazzetta stream from last year is no more. Instead viewers around the world can find the race on Eurosport, or for those in the US and France, on beIN Sport, the joint venture between Al Jazeera and Time Warner. As ever cyclingfans.com or steephill.tv have the treasured pirate video links.
Peter March 5, 2013 at 8:21 pm

I’m looking to Bauke Mollema as a wild card. I think he can do very good here. He has had a great season so far in Murcia, Andalucia, and Tour Méditerranéen, both in GC results as in stage finishes.

Ablindeye March 5, 2013 at 9:48 pm

Now there’s an all encompassing mutually beneficial arrangement if ever I saw one. Many thanks. Roll on tomorrow!

Ablindeye March 5, 2013 at 9:53 pm

Also great heads up on the C-Cycling blog which has a very nice detailed preview of stage 1 too.

The Inner Ring March 5, 2013 at 10:13 pm

That will appear on here shortly too!

Larry T. March 5, 2013 at 10:26 pm

Watching the RAI Sport preview show tonight I was struck by how many of this year’s TdF contenders chose to skip Paris-Nice, run by ASO in favor of Tirreno-Adriatico. Cadel Evans said something about everyone copying him this time round. Of course the food and hotels are better in Italy, but what’s been the real reason given for choosing the Italian event over its French counterpart?

The Inner Ring March 5, 2013 at 11:19 pm

Seems to be a mix of things. RCS have turned up the charm to draw in riders, the course is appealing and others just want to try something different. There’s an article in French explaining more:
http://www.velochrono.fr/actu/2013/pourquoi-paris-nice-a-mis-le-petit-plateau/

Larry T. March 6, 2013 at 8:25 am

Thanks. Unless the Google translation of the article (my French is limited to not a lot beyond good day, good night, etc) was really screwed up, it seems it must be the food and hotels along with the differences in the 2013 courses chosen by the organizers? It’s great being in Italy right now, we can tune in RAI Sport 2 every afternoon for both races while getting excited for the TV coverage of La Primavera. Not too long after that I head up to Flanders to see the Ronde live, in-person.

Ronan March 6, 2013 at 12:16 pm

Is there no link between the profit sharing announced by RCS and the sudden move to race TA over PN?

The Inner Ring March 6, 2013 at 12:23 pm

It’s not known. Note the sharing is a new idea but it’s also an old format with the concept of appearance money paid to draw in the big names, a practice as old as the sport itself. But we don’t know if any money has changed.

John S March 6, 2013 at 8:13 am

Thanks for the preview and the consistent quality of content, writing and insights! My tips would have been 1. Froome (if he is there to win, rather than train) 2. Purito, and 3. Evans or Pistolero. My choices based on the impression that Purito would lose more time to Froome in the TT’s (individual and team) than he may gain on the one real selective summit finish at Prati di Tivo. But looking at their “head-to-head” ITT results, to my surprise Purito does not fare so poorly, especially over shorter distances: Volta Catalunya 2010 (3.6km) Purito 13th, Froome 37th (-6s); Veulta 2011 (47 km flat) Froome 2nd, Purito 71st (-4:25); Vuelta 2012 (39.4 km, hilly) Froome 3 rd, Purito 7th (-37s). Between these two, much may depend on the TTT. Although they have not brought their “A team” here, I think Sky should create ~20s buffer for Froome to work with.

Víctor March 6, 2013 at 12:00 pm

Thanks for the preview! I think this will be one of the most exciting races of the year and it would be specially important for Evans as he has to make a statement for his TDF leadership (while TJ is trying the same in France). Also, although Movistar did not bring a GC contender, I would like to see my fellow compatriot Andrey Amador getting in the mix and shaking things up in Prati de Tivo and Chieti. He did a fantastic job in the last 20k of Strade Bianche, but Valverde couldn’t take advantage of it.

cthulhu March 6, 2013 at 10:22 pm

I wonder how well Tony Martin climbs, he could be the dark horse there.
Because if he doesn’t lose more than 45 s-1.5 min before the final stage and depending on which opponent, he might claim that back in the final TT, in which power is is everything, although it is a bit short, he might win this.

cthulhu March 6, 2013 at 10:34 pm

Edit: I already took the time he gained today into account
But at velocity of about 50km/h, 1 km/h difference makes a time difference of 13-14 s on this distance

Toe Strap March 6, 2013 at 11:54 pm

What’s the story with the trophy? Do they do that every year? Does it live on the seabed between races?How do they know where look when they come to pull it out?

I NEED TO KNOW !!!

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