RCS Sport director Michele Acquarone took to Twitter on Monday to admit that Monday’s Tirreno-Adriatico stage was too extreme. The 209-kilometer route around Porto Sant’Elpidio, Italy, featured three ascents of the 27-percent, 375-meter Sant’Elpidio a Mare ramp.
Many riders were forced to dismount and push their bikes up the paved climb, while stage winner Peter Sagan (Cannondale) “paperboyed” up the climb the penultimate time, turning back-and-forth across the road.
Just 109 of the day’s 161 starters finished the race’s penultimate stage. American Taylor Phinney (BMC Racing), who finished last, at 37:37, said after the stage that he pushed on after his entire grupetto packed it in.
Responding to compliments over the route on Twitter, Acquarone wrote:
@VeloVoices @velocast You are nice, but if you lose half your peloton, you just have to be honest and learn from mistakes. #Tirreno
Acquarone later wrote:
@petosagan and @VincenzoNibali shone in a legendary stage. Many of you enjoyed it, but it was too much. We lost the right balance. #Tirreno
Following the stage, Alberto Contador (Saxo-Tinkoff) said he had doubts that he could even ride the ramps near the Adriatic coast.
“It was very hard because of the very steep hills,” he said. “Sometimes you don’t believe it’s possible to go up on the bike.”
Sagan said that Contador’s tires were slipping on the pavement once rain began to fall.
“It was a very hard stage. When the rain started to fall, the gradients of 30 percent were hard to get up,” said Sagan. “I heard Contador say that, when he climbed out of the saddle, his back wheel slipped. I rode in the saddle all the time and, in the end, I got away with Vincenzo [Nibali] and stayed away to the finish line.”
Other riders, including Fabian Cancellara (RadioShack-Leopard), took to Twitter to criticize the stage:
I have just to say todays stage has nothing to do with bike racing.all the steep climbs we done you find in the area.i call it #sadomaso