For years I have covered Paris-Nice, but after 20 editions following the “Race to the Sun,” I was only too happy to have the opportunity to cover Tirreno-Adriatico – the “Race Between Two Seas.”
True to form, Tirreno started on the Adriatic coast, with a time trial in the beach town of Lido di Camaiore. I can only imagine this town in the summer months, packed with beach-goers. But on a Monday in March, I sensed a certain quiet nostalgia in the air, as if the town was simply waiting for the next summer to come. In some ways, the Tirreno time trial was a bit of an appetizer, as world champion Filippo Ganna once again showed off his rainbow stripes, while dominating the field and exciting the crowds.
The following days rolled through the ever picturesque Tuscany with its quaint villages and iconic distinctive landscape. Given over to sprinters, there was a sort of pastoral calm to the racing, as everyone understood that the race for this year’s Tirreno title would really start on stage four to the hilltop town of Bellante.
And indeed, the stage did not disappoint as defending champion Tadej Pogačar bolted away in the final meters to take the stage and the overall lead. Indeed Pogačar appears primed to once again win, but Italian racing is known for being unpredictable and three tough stages are still to come.
Australian Richie Porte, in his final season of racing, was one of the first to start the stage one time trial along the quiet streets of Lido di Camaiore.
British time trial specialist Alex Dowsett took the early lead in the race against the clock and was in the “hot seat” for much of the day.
No one was a match for world champion Filippo Ganna, who stormed to his third time trial victory in 2022.
Sporting his new TotalEnergies colors, Peter Sagan was relaxed before the start of stage two. Later, he had reason to be pleased with his fourth-place finish. Unfortunately, he fell ill in the middle of the night and had to withdraw the following day, compromising his spring campaign.
Local fans cheered on the riders as stage two rolled out.
Filippo Ganna appeared relaxed in his blue leader’s jersey as he rolled through much of the stage.
Up-and-coming sprinter Tim Merlier stormed to victory at the end of a 220-kilometer opening road stage.
Italian races are known for going into the heart of the country. And Tirreno does not disappoint.
It may almost be springtime in Italy, but autumn colors still could be found along stage three.
Cyprus trees and blue skies reminded all that spring wasn’t far away.
Although stage three appeared primed for the sprinters, that didn’t stop world champion Julian Alaphilippe defending Tirreno-Adriatico champion Tadej Pogačar from mixing it up at the front with a late-race attack.
In the end, however, Australian sprinter Caleb Ewan scored his first Tirreno stage win, demonstrating that he will once again be a factor in Milan-San Remo next week.
With the mountains on the horizon, an early break tried its chances on stage four.
The pack raced through the historic center of Ascoli Piceno as they approached the finale of stage four.
Filippo Ganna stayed near the front for most of the stage — and even some climbing — even though he knew that the final hills would make it tough for him to hold onto his blue leader’s jersey for another day.
The peloton rounded the final corner of the hilltop town of Bellante on the penultimate lap.
Part of the early break, American Quinn Simmons made a strong effort in the final 30 kilometers and would only be caught in the closing kilometers of the last circuit.
Attacks continued as the pack raced toward the finish on the final climb. But no one could match Tadej Pogačar when he finally launched nearly 700 meters from the finish. Storming to the stage victory, he also took over the blue leader’s jersey, serving notice that he would once again be the rider to beat at this year’s Tirreno-Adriatico.