Current and former world road champions Paolo Bettini, Tom Boonen, Igor Astarloa and Oscar Freire will be among those toeing the start line at the opening of Tirenno-Adriatico Wednesday. Aside from the rainbow stripes, these men share another trait in common: a desire to win the season’s first big one-day classic, Milan-San Remo.
Other world-class sprinters slated to race T-A include CSC’s Stuart O’Grady, Milram teammates Alessandro Petacchi and Erik Zabel, and Silence-Lotto’s Robbie McEwen.
The seven-day, 1122km race opens in Mar Tirreno and heads east to Mar Adriatico.
Last year’s champion, Andreas Klöden, will not be able to defend, as race organizer RCS Sport excluded his Astana squad.
Although Tirenno is considered the flatter alternative to the hilly Paris-Nice, the race still features some climbing. After a relatively flat first day, riders will face a 203km stage with a 6km climb near the finish. The third stage features a stiff wall — we’re talking 19 percent — that riders must tackle twice, including the finish.
From there, riders are in the clear, with the last four stages along the Adriatico. The fifth stage is a 26km time trial, where Fabian Cancellara, world time trial champion and recent Monte Paschi Eroica victor, will of course be one to watch.
March 12, Civitavecchia-Civitavecchia, 160km
March 13, Civitavecchia-Gubbio, 203km
March 14, Gubbio-Montelupone, 195km
March 15, Porto Recanati-Civitanova Marche, 166km
March 16, Macerata-Recanati (individual time trial), 26km
March 17, Civitanova Marche-Castelfidardo, 196km
March 18, S. Benedetto Del Tronto–S. Benedetto Del Tronto, 178km