The forty-ninth edition of the Race of the Two Seas delivered on almost every front you care to mention, and the closing stage individual time trial provided a neat bookend to a week of action begun with a team test against the clock seven days earlier.
Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo) claimed a long-overdue overall victory after a year without clambering to the top step of the podium. Does El Pistolero’s triumph in Italy herald a return to his best form and trouble this July for Team Sky’s Chris Froome when the Brit defends his Tour de France title?
Team Sky may not have enjoyed the most successful seven days by their own formidable standards, but Bradley Wiggins’ third place on the final stage time trial salvaged something for a team that lost its leader before the race and lost another before the finish. The final stages of Wiggo’s road career offer a source of intrigue to the cycling fan. Will there be one last hurrah before the greatest of all British riders returns to the velodrome?
Adriano Malori (Movistar) was the rider who ended the hopes of TT victory for Wiggins, and his perennial rivals in the race of truth – Fabian Cancellara and Tony Martin. The former Italian national time trial champion’s triumph in San Benedetto del Tronto followed victory against the clock in the season-opening Tour de San Luis, and team-mate, Alex Dowsett, is tipping him for TT victory in the Giro d’Italia. Does the peloton have a new time trial star?
Speaking of Dowsett, and talented time trialists, the three-time and reigning British TT champion had a successful week in Italy, attacking with fervour on stage two and finishing sixth on the final day’s time trial. There are many in this country who would like to see him roll out for the Tour de France, particularly those in his home county of Essex, through which the race will pass on stage three. Should he maintain the form of the last seven days, is Tour selection a possibility?
One British rider almost certain to contest the Tour is Mark Cavendish (Omega Pharma-Quickstep). The British road race champion will start as hot favourite to win the opening stage, which ends in his mother’s home town of Harrogate. The Manx Missile added a fourth victory of the season to his palmares on stage six, but unlike some, stayed on to finish the race by contesting a time trial in which he had little hope of victory. What can Cavendish do in Sunday’s Milan-San Remo?
Read on for our five observations on the final stage of the 2014 Tirreno-Adriatico, and add your own in the RCUK Forum.