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Starting at 14.15 CET you can follow the final time trial of Tirreno-Adriatico on CyclingQuotes.com/live.

Photo: Sirotti

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TIRRENO - ADRIATICO

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17.03.2015 @ 13:30 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Only disaster can prevent Nairo Quintana from winning Tirreno-Adriatico but there is still a lot to play for in the 10km time trial that will end the Italian race. While the likes of Adriano Malori and Fabian Cancellara will battle it out for the stage win, the fight for the remaining spots on the podium is a close and hugely exciting one.

 

The course

In the first part of the century, Tirreno-Adriatico always ended with a flat circuit race along the coast in San Benedetto del Tronto while any time trialing often took place on hillier courses earlier in the race. That script was ended after the 2010 edition when Edvald Boasson Hagen was the last sprinter to win in the coastal city.

 

The four most recent editions have all ended with a virtually identical time trial on an out-and-back course along the Adriatic Sea in San Benedetto del Tronto and this will again be the case for the 2015 edition. This year's 10km stage is an almost exact copy of the stage that has been used for the past editions and is completely flat and very non-technical. However, the organizers have moved the turning point slightly and pushed the start ramp a little forward, meaning that the distance has been increased from 9.2km to 10km

 

The change to the start means that the opening part is less technical. The riders take off from the seafront and quickly take a left-hand turn onto the coastal road. From there it is very simple all the way to the finish. The first part is a straight run down the coastal road until the turning point which comes just before the 5km to go mark. Along the way, they pass the former turning point where the time check will be taken after 4.4km of racing. The riders do a U-turn and then it is straight along the coastal road all the way back to the finish.

 

With long, flat roads, this is a course for the true specialists who can use their big power to get up to maximum speed and keep it there for their entire ride and it is no wonder that Fabian Cancellara won the two first editions before being beaten into 4th by Tony Martin, Adriano Malori, and Andrey Amador in 2013. Last year Adriano Malori took what was then the biggest win of his career when he beat the giants Cancellara, Bradley Wiggins and Martin after a great performance on home soil.

 

 

 

The weather

The riders have not had any luck with the weather in the second half of Tirreno-Adriatico and the last two stages have taken place in horrendous conditions. For the final day, however, things should be slightly better.

 

At the moment, the weather forecast predicts a cloudy and dry day but it won’t be the usual nice and sunny affair on the Adriatic coastline. The temperature will reach a maximum of 13 degrees and there will be a moderate wind blowing from a southeasterly direction. This means that the riders will have a cross-headwind in the first part before they turn into a cross-tailwind for the second half. Importantly, the win will abate a bit as the day goes on and even though it is an out-and-back course, it may favour the later starters slightly.

 

The favourites

Tirreno-Adriatico has finished with an almost identical time trial four years in a row but it has rarely been decisive in determining the winner of the race. In 2011, it was the scene of a very exciting battle between Roman Kreuziger, Vincenzo Nibali and Chris Horner who were separated by mere seconds but in 2012, 2013 and 2014 the winner had such a comfortable lead that he just had to avoid accident to win the race.

 

This year it seems to be the same scenario as Nairo Quintana goes into the final stage with a 39-second buffer over Bauke Mollema and a 48-second advantage over Rigoberto Uran. Even though the two rivals are both better time triallists than the tiny Colombian, only mechanicals or crashes will make it possible for them to gain so much time over such a short distance. Quintana doesn’t have to take any risks and just has to finish the stage safely to win the race overall.

 

While the overall winner has already been found, there is still a lot to play for in the fight for the remaining spots in the top 10. Only 44 seconds separate Mollema from Przemyslaw Niemiec in 13th and many riders are within seconds of each other. This means that the final stage can produce a huge shake up of the GC and will play a big role in determining the order of the riders that are still in top 10 contention.

 

This stage is completely flat without any technical challenges and this means that it is all about power. It’s a test for the pure specialists and as most of the riders are tiny climbers, they will be far off the mark set by the best riders. Joaquim Rodriguez and Adam Yates could both be among the big losers and even though Domenico Pozzovivo has improved his time trialling a lot, he has usually had a very hard time in this stage which is both too short and too flat to give him much of a chance.

 

Rigoberto Uran should have no trouble taking back 9 seconds on Mollema and it will be a surprise if the Colombian is not second at the end of the race. Mollema has had a hard time in recent time trials but he has worked a lot over the winter and seems to be back at a reasonable level. He has a solid advantage over Thibaut Pinot who has improved massively and even though the Frenchman could do better than the Trek leader, he should be no danger to the final spot on the podium.

 

Alberto Contador doesn’t seem to be at his best so we don’t expect him to be able to take back enough time from Mollema. The big threat is Stephen Cummings who is a real specialist and among the favourites to win the stage and the Brit could gain those important 33 seconds to give MTN-Qhubeka a surprise spot on the podium. However, the most likely podium is Quintana-Uran-Mollema.

 

For the stage win, however, other riders will come to the fore. Last year Adriano Malori proved that he is currently one of the very best in flat time trials of a medium distance when he beat all the giants Fabian Cancellara, Bradley Wiggins, Tony Martin and Tom Dumoulin in this stage. This year he has already tasted success as he took a great win in the prologue.

 

That win indicated that the Italian is at the top of his game as he is usually not able to match Cancellara in such a technical challenge. Having been sixth in the first technical part, he used his power in the second half where he was clearly the fastest.

 

In the final stage, he won’t have any technical challenges and here it will all come down to power. At the moment, Malori seems to be the most powerful rider in this field which he underlined when he finished less than half a second behind Tony Martin in the Volta ao Algarve time trial. On a course that suits him down to the ground, Malori must be the favourite to win.

 

His biggest rival will again be Cancellara who has won this stage twice and was second behind Malori last year. The Swiss is no longer the time triallist he once was but he is still one of the very best in the business. He usually does very well in this stage which comes at a time where he is close to his peak condition.

 

Cancellara was hugely frustrated after the prologue where he claimed to have made lots of mistakes in the technical part which probably cost him the win. In the second part, however, he was 3 seconds slower than Malori and this indicates that he doesn’t have the same power as the Italian. Furthermore, Cancellara wasn’t impressive in Strade Bianche and he is clearly not as strong as he once was. While he is fading, Malori is improving and so it will be hard for the Swiss to win.

 

Stephen Cummings will have an extra incentive to do well as he is contention for a spot on the podium. He finished 8th in the prologue which didn’t really suit him as it was too technical. In this kind of short, flat tests with no technical challenges, however, he is one of the very best as he proved when he finished second in the 2014 Dubai Tour TT and third in the 2014 Tour of Britain TT.

 

In this race, Cummings has been climbing better than ever before and he is clearly in the form of his life. This stage suits him down to the ground and as a late starter, he will benefit from the abating wind. Cummings may use a good ride to finish on the overall podium and he could even win the stage too.

 

Matthias Brändle may mostly be known for his status as former Hour Record holder but he is also a great time triallist. This year he has been fifth in both the Tour of Qatar TT and the Tirreno-Adriatico prologue and last year he took several top 10 results in short, flat time trials. This stage suits him a lot better than the prologue where he was 6th fastest in the power section. He even felt that he could have done even better in that stage and he is destined to win a time trial very soon.

 

Daniel Oss led the prologue for a long time despite only being 18th fastest in the technical part. However, he was only 2 seconds slower than Malori in the final part and this makes him a contender on a course that suits him a lot better. After an injury-marred season, he is back at a very high level as he proved with his great ride in Strade Bianche and this makes him one of the favourites for this stage.

 

Ramunas Navardauskas suffered in the technical part of the prologue but when it came to the power section, only Malori was faster. Last year he was third in the short time trial in Circuit de la Sarthe and he generally does well in this kind of short tests. He has been climbing really well in his recent races and seems to be in great form for the classics. Look out for the Lithuanian fastman in this time trial.

 

Jonathan Castroviejo had a terrible 2014 season when it comes to time trialling but last year at the Worlds he found back his best legs. This year he has been time trialling pretty well and he was one of the fastest in power section of the prologue. With his excellent climbing in this race, he is clearly in very good condition and this short time trial should suit him well.

 

Maciej Bodnar has clearly benefited massively from his move to Tinkoff-Saxo as he has been stronger than ever before. He was fourth in the prologue and fourth in the Tour of Qatar TT too. Already last year he improved his time trialling level a lot and he won the stage in De Panne. He would probably have preferred the course to be a bit more technical but he should be up there.

 

Jesse Sergent was one of the big favourites for the prologue but he had a disastrous ride. However, he arrived straight from the 3 Days of West Flanders and was probably more fatigued than his rivals. Now the playing ground is a bit more level and on paper he is one of the best time triallists in this race. He was second in the West Flanders prologue which proves that his condition is not far away.

 

Finally, we will select a few jokers. For several years Manuel Quinziato has been unable to shine in the time trials but last year he suddenly found back his best legs. He was 8th in this stage and 4th in the Eneco Tour time trial. In general, he is very strong in short flat time trials and he is clearly in great condition as he builds form for the classics.

 

Markel Irizar was once a great prologue rider but for some years he disappeared into anonymity. Last year, however, he was suddenly back to this best with a top 10 in the Tour de France time trial. In the prologue, he was among the best in the power section and we again expect him to shine in tomorrow’s stage.

 

Greg Van Avermaet has always suffered a lot in the time trials but suddenly he did the time trial of his life in the prologue. The Belgian was a surprise third. Even more impressively he was fourth in the power section. This stage should suit him a lot less and we would be surprised if he can repeat his performance from the prologue. However, he won’t rule out another great ride by the in-form Belgian.

 

CyclingQuotes’ stage winner pick: Adriano Malori

Other winner candidates: Fabian Cancellara, Stephen Cummings

Outsiders: Matthias Brändle, Daniel Oss, Ramunas Navardauskas, Jonathan Castroviejo, Jesse Sergent, Maciej Bodnar

Jokers: Manuel Quinziato, Markel Irizar, Greg Van Avermaet

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