Road

Malori not quite king, but wants to take the crown

Italian Adriano Malori comes out swinging at Tirreno-Adriatico but is modest about ambitions to win the Tour's opening TT and take yellow

LIDO DI CAMAIORE, Italy (VN) — It is Adriano Malori or mister Malori, but not King Malori — at least not yet. He’s added Wednesday’s short, 5.4-kilometer, stage 1 time trial at Tirreno-Adriatico to his numerous time trial wins over similar short hauls. But for him, that is not enough to put him at the top of the list of TT specialists.

“King? I don’t think so,” the Italian of team Movistar said. “Of course, today it went very well for me, but there are others to consider. Not just the short distance, but I hope to be one of the best over the long runs too.”

Malori won with a time of six minutes, four seconds. That mark was good enough to hold off the Swiss specialist against the clock, Fabian Cancellara (Trek Factory Racing), who trailed by one second to claim second place on the Tuscan shoreline.

Cancellara once was king of the time trials. He held the world title four times, and to take the famous maillot jaune or yellow jersey, he won the opening Tour de France time trial five times. In the past years, though, he focused his attention on the classics.

Bradley Wiggins (Team Sky) and Tony Martin (Etixx-Quick-Step) now reign. They finished in that order at the last world championships in Ponferrada, Spain. Dutchman Tom Dumoulin (Giant-Alpecin) placed third. Malori was sixth over 47.1 kilometers.

“If I had to sit down and draw up a list of the best time trialists,” continued Malori, “I’d say Martin, Wiggins … Then I’d put in Fabian [Cancellara], Dumoulin, and myself.”

Malori’s list of wins in short, five- to 25-kilometer time trials does look impressive. The victories include time trials in the 2013 Coppi & Bartali (14.3km), 2013 Bayern-Rundfahrt (31.2km), 2014 Tour de San Luis (19.2km) where he bested Taylor Phinney by three seconds, 2014 Tirreno-Adriatico (9.1km), and in San Luis again in 2015, this time on a distance of 17.4 kilometers.

At the 2010 Tour de France prologue, over 8.9 kilometers in Rotterdam, Netherlands, he placed eighth behind Cancellara. This year, the race kicks off with a similarly short, 14-kilometer, time trial down the road in Utrecht. Malori, though he said he is not the best, must think about the possibility of wearing the yellow jersey.

“The yellow jersey at the Tour is a dream, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves,” he said. “I have to pass all the big guns to win that jersey. Right now, I’ll just enjoy this blue one.”

Malori took the blue jersey, or maglia azzurra, after his win today. He will lead the peloton when it rolls out of Lido di Camaiore for Cascina tomorrow. For now, he has already passed the big guns: Cancellara and other specialists like former hour record holder, Matthias Brändle (IAM Cycling), were left in his wake at Tirreno.

The crisp Tuscan evening must have cooled the Italian from Parma because in January, under the hot Argentinean sun after winning the time trial, he defined his goals clearly.

“I want to be at my top for the Tour’s time trial to try for the win and yellow jersey,” he told La Gazzetta dello Sport. “Then I want race in the Richmond worlds to make up for the errors I made in Ponferrada.”

The hour record is not in Malori’s planner, like it is for Wiggins and Alex Dowsett. Instead, he wants to win as much as possible to secure a new and bigger contract for 2016.