The WorldTour arrives in Italy for the “Race of the two Seas” - Tirreno-Adriatico. Running between the Tyrrhenian and Adriatic coasts the seven-stage spectacle is one every stage racer would love to add to their palmares.
In addition to the battle for overall honours, the race carries an enticing subplot given the knowledge that the winner of Milano-Sanremo has frequently ridden the week-long race as part of their preparations for La Primavera.
Despite that fact, sprint opportunities remain at a premium in a race which is bookended by time trials for the second year in succession.
Aside from being one of the most prestigious events of the early season, Tirreno-Adriatico also has arguably the most unique trophy as the winner traditionally lifts a huge golden trident “sea master” trophy.
Wednesday 7 March – Stage one: San Vincenzo to Donoratico (team time trial) – 16.9km
The race begins with a team time trial as each squad battles it out to place one of their riders into the inaugural Maglia Azzurra. Rolling down the ramp on the seafront in San Vincenzo, the riders are quickly met with a dead turn before heading north in a long, straight drag up to the time check shortly before the 8km marker. At this point the riders turn hard right for an anti-clockwise loop back around into the finish with a slight rise before the line in Donoratico.
Coverage on British Eurosport 2 from 1530 to 1700 with highlights at 1900-2000 and 2200-2300.
Thursday 8 March – Stage two: San Vincenzo to Indicatore (Arezzo) – 230km
A stage befitting of a Grand Tour, this 230km slog has grown from last year’s run into Indicatore by 18 kilometres. Again the riders begin the day in San Vincenzo before heading north-east, hitting the Volterra climb after 59.5km. Undulating terrain is the order of the day with the categorised Castella in Chianti (106.2km) next on the menu. Dropping back down into Montevarchi the riders have a short run before hitting the finishing circuit ahead of two laps of a lumpy 33km circuit around Indicatore. Sprinters will have to be well-positioned in what should be the first bunch sprint of the race.
Live coverage on British Eurosport 2 from 1400 to 1530 with highlights at 1900-2000 and 2200-2300.
Friday 9 March – Stage three: Indicatore to Terni – 178km
A test for the sprinters to really savour, stage three begins and ends on the flat with just a few brief climbs to negotiate in what looks set to be, on paper at least, the most straightforward day of the race thus far. The riders head south around the western edge of Perugia before the day’s only categorised climb – a 328m ramp at Todi. The riders drop back down for 20 flat kilometres and a technical run into the centre of Terni.
Coverage on British Eurosport 2 from 1530 to 1645 with highlights at 1900-2000 and 2200-2300 (BE1).
Saturday 10 March – Stage four: Amelia to Chieti – 252km
A monster of a stage, the run to Chieti should have a sizable impact on the GC on a day which culminates in the spectacular climb up the Via Salomone in front of a passionate crowd. With a maximum gradient of 19% and such a long day in the legs the time gaps will open out as riders come to a near standstill on the climb 2km from home. Before they have got to that point the peloton must negotiate a tough day in its own right; climbing the Sella di Corno (95.2km) in the lead up to the demanding Passo Lanciano (203.7km). After 1310 metres of climbing a technical finish still remains with nowhere to hide once the riders hit the final ascent. The gradient does level out in time for the final kilometre which could perhaps give the lead contenders a brief chance to claw back ground before the finish line.
Live coverage on British Eurosport 2 from 1415 to 1530 with highlights at 1915-2000 and 2330-0030 (BE1).
Sunday 11 March – Stage five: Martinsicuro to Prati di Tivo – 196km
A key GC battleground with barely a moment of flat terrain after the first 50km, the fifth stage will see the climbers come to the fore as they look to put time into their rivals. The day begins with a run along the coast, turning inland to skirt around Roseto degli Abruzzi before turning inland permanently at Pineto. An early climb at Atri (63.8km) is frankly dwarfed by what is to come on the shark’s tooth profile. The route winds its way through Teramo before beginning the long ascent of the imposing 1227m Piano Roseto (161.9km). With the leaders beginning to tire there’s a long descent to negotiate before a 15km fight to the finish. The Prati di Tivo stands at 1033m and features 10 tough switchbacks on the upper slopes before a finale averaging 6.8% to the finish at the Piazzale Amorocchi.
Live coverage on British Eurosport 2 from 1400 to 1500 with highlights at 2015-2115.
Monday 12 March – Stage six: Offida to Offida – 181km
Monday should prove to be a good day to live in Offida for cycling fans with the penultimate stage based entirely around the town with a number of laps which will see the peloton cross the finish line no less than seven times. The day begins with a larger anti-clockwise loop which takes in an early climb at Ripatransone (17.2km) before arriving back at the start/finish following 84 undulating kilometres. The ‘Circuito di Offida’ then takes centre stage with six laps of the 16.2km course likely to see attacking racing. Two short climbs characterise the circuit, with the penultimate climb up to Ponte Delle Pietre maxing out at 10% on one section. An uphill finish on the Via Repubblica will crown the winner.
Live coverage on British Eurosport from 1400 to 1530 with highlights at 1900-2000 and 2215-2315 (both BE2).
Tuesday 13 March – Stage seven: San Benedetto del Tronto (time trial) – 9.3km
The traditional finish on the seafront in San Benedetto del Tronto reverts to a time trial for the second year in succession following a number of years as a finishing circuit complete with inevitable bunch sprint. The out and back course overlooking the Adriatic Sea is pan flat and arrow-straight so will suit those TT specialists who have perhaps throttled off in the tough days preceding in order to target the stage victory. Naturally the time trial could also play a crucial part in the fight for the blue leader’s jersey if time gaps remain close.
Live coverage on British Eurosport from 1400 to 1530 with highlights at 1900-2000 and 2115-2215 (both BE2).
The team head into the race with riders targeting both stage wins and a solid finish on the GC. Mark Cavendish will look to add to his one stage victory in the event (stage 7, 2009) as he ramps up his preparations for Milano-Sanremo. Thomas Löfkvist will also be going all out to place high up on the overall come the end of stage seven.
Team Sky history
Edvald Boasson Hagen sprinted to victory on what used to be the traditional closing stage circuit at San Benedetto del Tronto during the team’s first appearance at the race in 2010. No stranger to the race, Löfkvist will be looking to recapture the form which saw him claim third place overall in 2008.