While this year's Paris-Nice route may be one of the easiest in the history of the French stage race and made for opportunists, the route of Tirreno-Adriatico is more like a mini Giro d'Italia and will test the many Grand Tour contenders packing the start list.
ORICA-GreenEDGE will line up for Tirreno-Adriatico on Wednesday with three key objectives:1. Hone form ahead of the spring classics2. Target a strong performance on the opening team time trial, the team’s ‘pet event’3. Support Ivan Santaromita, the Italian National Champion, on the general classificationReady to tackle these major goals head on, the Tirreno squad includes: Cam Meyer, Daryl Impey, Ivan Santaromita, Jens Mouris, Luke Durbridge, Michael Hepburn, Svein Tuft and Simon Clarke.‘The Race of the Two Seas’ follows a typical stage race format that includes both a team time trial and individual time trial, sprint stages, hilly stages and summit finishes. The route starts on Italy’s Tyrrhenian coast and ends on the Adriatic coast. With the start of Milan-Sanremo just days away after the conclusion of the eight day tour, Tirreno will reveal who is on form for the first major classic of the season.In his own words, Sport Director Matt White reviews the stage profiles, the team’s objectives and the rider’s roles for Tirreno-Adriatico.Stage one will be the most important stage for us. It is the team time trial, and this is where we hope to shine. There won’t be many team time trial opportunities before the World Championships – the Giro d’Italia and maybe Eneco Tour – so this will be a good early season test for us.Stage two is a flat stage for the sprinters. It is lumpy in the first half where crosswinds could be a factor, but the pan flat finish will likely end in a bunch kick. We aren’t going to Tirreno with our sprinters, so there won’t be much for us here. If we take the jersey on day one, we’ll do a little bit of work to try to keep.Stage three is another lumpy day designed for the sprinters. Although with a five percent tilt up to the finish, it could be a day for punchy finishers like Daryl or Clarkey, both of whom have a good uphill kick.Stage four is the longest and hardest of the tour. Here is where the GC riders will come to the head of the race and show their cards. There will likely be a lot of damage done to the peloton by the end of the day.Stage five will be the second stage in the Apennines. The opening 150 kilometres trend downwards before the guys hit the painful climbs that characterize this stage. The day includes the steepest road in Italy, the Muro di Guardiagrele, a 800 metre, 25% wall that will separate the men from the boys.Stage six should be a straightforward one for the sprinters. Again, there’s not much for us here.Stage seven is the individual time trial. It’s nine kilometres out and back. Here we can expect any combination of an in-form Svein, Heppy, Durbo and Cam to be inside the top ten.Overall, a lot of the GC guys will be at Tirreno this year. In the past, they usually go to Paris-Nice but with the French tour’s unusual format this year, more have opted for Tirreno because of its time trials and summit finishes. We will see the real crème de la crème of GC riders battle it out over the weekend.The time trials will be key for the overall. They’re short but if you give away 30” or 40” in the team time trial and another 15” or 20” in the individual time trial, that’s the GC right there. With only two crucial stages for the climbers, I think the time trials are going to make the difference of who finishes on the podium and who just misses out.