In-form Polish champion Michal Kwiatkowski is one of two Omega Pharma-Quickstep riders – alongside Rigoberto Uran – who could mount a serious challenge for the blue jersey. Winner at Strade Bianche, the Volta ao Algarve and Trofeo Serra di Tramuntana – part of Challenge Mallorca – Kwiatkowski has enjoyed a scintillating start to the season, proving at just 23 years old he is already a serious all-round contender.
Last year’s Giro runner-up Uran, meanwhile, enjoyed third place at the Tour of Oman, finishing second on the undulating route to the Ministry of Housing before a third place on Green Mountain. With their world team trial champion team-mates in tow, the duo could be well placed after the first stage, while Mark Cavendish’s sprint ambitions – with Mark Renshaw and Alessandro Petacchi alongside him – mean the Belgian team will once again be competing on several fronts, potentially placing several riders in a strong position by the time the weekend’s two big mountain stages come about. Kwiatkowski has yet to prove himself on the biggest climbs, but whether he or Uran lead the team at Tirreno-Adriatico, this could be the big chance to do so.