Chris Froome will start his first UCI WorldTour race of the season at Tirreno-Adriatico this week, headlining a star-studded start list for the Race of the Two Seas, which kicks off on Wednesday (March 7).

Having started off his 2018 campaign with tenth place at the Ruta del Sol, Froome will step up his preparations for the Giro d’Italia by racing Tirreno-Adriatico for only the second time in his career.

Froome's last start saw him bag a stage win on his way to second overall behind Vincenzo Nibali in 2013, and the Shark of Messina will be among his leading rivals this time out.

Tirreno-Adriatico, 2018, Chris Froome, Tom Dumoulin, Fabio Aru, Vincenzo Nibali, Peter Sagan, pic - Sirotti

The contenders

Former team-mate Mikel Landa (Movistar), Tour de France runner-up Rigoberto Uran (EF-Drapac) and third-place finisher Romain Bardet (Ag2r-La Mondiale) – the latter fresh from his second place at Strade Bianche – are also among the leading GC men in action.

British GC interest extends to Adam Yates (Mitchelton-Scott) and Froome’s Team Sky team-mate Geraint Thomas, while defending Giro d’Italia champion Tom Dumoulin (Team Sunweb), Italian champion Fabio Aru (UAE-Team Emirates) and Miguel Angel Lopez (Astana) are also riders to watch.

The route

As ever, the race will start with a team time trial – where Froome’s Sky team-mates will hope for a better showing than last year when mechanical misfortune severely hampered their attempt.

A flat stage from Camaiore to Follonica follows, where Mark Cavendish (Dimension Data) will be keen to bounce back from his Abu Dhabi crash against sprinting rivals Fernando Gaviria (QuickStep Floors), Caleb Ewan (Orica-Scott) and world champion Peter Sagan (Bora-hansgrohe).

Stages three and five both end with uphill finishes, but they are both better suited to the rouleurs than the out-and-out climbers, who will have their day to shine on day four – a 219km stage finishing with the 13.2km (seven per cent average gradient) Sarnano-Sassotetto climb.

Stage six should be another day for the sprinters, before the race concludes once again with a short individual time trial; a 10km route around San Benedetto del Tronto.

Chris Froome, Team Sky, Tirreno-Adriatico press conference, pic - Sirotti

Tirreno-Adriatico 2018: TV schedule

Wednesday March 7: stage one

LIVE: Eurosport 1 – 1pm

Highlights: Eurosport 1 – 7pm; Eurosport 2 – 10pm

Thursday March 8: stage two

LIVE: Eurosport 1 – 12.30pm

Highlights: Eurosport 1 – 7pm; Eurosport 2 – 10pm

Friday March 9: stage three

LIVE: Eurosport 1 – 12.30pm

Highlights: Eurosport 1 – 7pm; Eurosport 2 – 10pm

Saturday March 10: stage four

LIVE: Eurosport 1 – 12.30pm

Highlights: Eurosport 1 – 7pm; Eurosport 2 – 10pm

Sunday March 11: stage five

LIVE: Eurosport 1 – 12.30pm

Highlights: Eurosport 1 – 7pm; Eurosport 2 – 10pm

Monday March 12: stage six

LIVE: Eurosport 1 – 12.30pm

Highlights: Eurosport 1 – 7pm; Eurosport 2 – 10pm

Tuesday March 13: stage seven

LIVE: Eurosport 1 – 12.30pm

Highlights: Eurosport 1 – 7pm; Eurosport 2 – 10pm