Kicking off with an 18.5km team time trial, the parcours unveiled for this year’s Tirreno-Adriatico offers something for everyone. Sprint stages, punishing climbs and two summit finishes lie in wait before the final individual time trial on Tuesday March 18.
The first stage, won last year by world team time trial champions, Omega Pharma-Quickstep, will be raced in the opposite direction – from Donoratico to San Vincenzo – this time out. The Belgian super team will again be among the favourites on the 18.5km route, while Orica-GreenEDGE – with five of their six world silver medallists in the line-up for Tirreno-Adriatico – will also be in contention.
The first road stage of this year’s route features a top heavy, undulating stage with a sprint finish likely in Cascina before another flat stage – albeit 210km long – on Friday.
Stages four and five over the weekend could blow the general classification apart however, and allow the WorldTour’s best climbers the chance to prove themselves on some gruelling ascents.
Saturday sees the riders tackle a ten kilometre ascent, with ramps of up to 12 per cent gradient, of Forca di Cerro before a 16.5km slog up Forca Capistrello. Those still left in contention then face the 14 kilometre climb of the Selvarotonda, with ramps of up to ten percent within the final 100m of the stage. As well as featuring such punishing climbs, stage four is an enormous 244km in length.
The following day is much shorter, at 192km, but its climbs make those of stage four look like mere mole hills. More than 12 kilometres in length, the base of Passo Lanciano starts just after the 150km mark, and features little respite on a climb which almost immediately kicks into a 13 per cent ramp, before an average close to nine per cent in gradient for the rest of the ascent.
And once the Lanciano has been scaled, a summit finish in Guardiagrele is likely to provide a clear indication of the final destination of the blue jersey with the monstrous Muro di Guardiagrele to be ascended in the final two kilometres.
The leg-screamer of a climb features an average gradient of more than 22 per cent and touches 30 per cent in parts. If one of the climbers can go clear there, the final overall winner could well be a foregone conclusion, with a sprint stage to follow and just a 9.2km individual time trial to end proceedings.