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What can Giro d’Italia fans learn from Tirreno-Adriatico?

LIDO DI CAMAIORE, Italy (VN) — Most of the Giro d’Italia favorites gathered along the sunny Tuscan coast Tuesday for this week’s Tirreno-Adriatico. A win in central Italy could equal success in the three-week Italian grand tour or it could just be a peak in a long season.

Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain-Merida) last won the seven-day stage race in 2013 and went on to conquer the Giro d’Italia in the same year. But he is one of the few, since the race did not always suit grand tour riders.

The overall winner in San Beneetto del Tronto next Tuesday should be well-suited for the Giro’s classification in May given that the race this week includes a 16.1-kilometer summit finish and two time trials. He will also have to battle and conquer an A-list of rivals.

“The main guys for the Giro d’Italia are here, so it’ll be a good test for everyone,” Geraint Thomas (Sky) said. “Saying that, a lot can still change from here until the start of the Giro.”

When the dust settles in San Benedetto del Tronto, cycling fans still must wait around two months for the 100th Giro to kick off in Sardinia on May 5. It is a period of classics and other short stages races — and a time of speculation.

“You still have around 60 days,” Nibali told VeloNews. “It’s not written anywhere that Tirreno success will bring Giro success. It can be indicative, but there are those who already started strongly and started early. It’s hard to say if he who wins Tirreno will win the Giro.”

As Nibali spoke, Tom Dumoulin (Sunweb), Nairo Quintana (Movistar), and Tejay van Garderen (BMC Racing) walked by in the press conference room.

Nibali added, “To have all of those riders here who’ll be at the Giro you could already get an indicator to how your rivals are racing and riding, their tactics, all those small things.”

RCS Sport’s cycling director, Mauro Vegni looked please with the cast he gathered in Tuscany for the start of Tirreno-Adriatico on Wednesday.

The start list of 22 teams, 176 cyclists, includes Thomas, Nibali, Dumoulin, Quintana, van Garderen, Thibaut Pinot (FDJ), Adam Yates (Orica-Scott), Bauke Mollema (Trek-Segafredo), and Rui Costa (UAE Team Emirates).

Olympic champion and 2016 Tirreno-Adriatico winner Greg Van Avermaet (BMC Racing) is also on the start list. “But it’d have to snow again for me to win,” he said. Last year, bad weather forced Vegni to cancel the queen stage and opened up Van Avermaet’s chances.

“Tirreno on its own has value and importance because it’s WorldTour and gives points to the team, but clearly, it’s a testing ground for all the cyclists,” Vegni said.

“The sprinters are building for Milano-Sanremo here. And of course, you can see right away how those men who are building for the Giro stand.”