Scarponi on Tirreno: ‘I want to win it again’

Michele Scarponi (Lampre-ISD) says winning Tirreno-Adriatico will be another early season goal as he takes aim at the Giro d’Italia in 2012.

Michele Scarponi (Lampre-ISD) says winning Tirreno-Adriatico will be another early season goal as he takes aim at the Giro d’Italia in 2012.

Scarponi was among the top riders at Wednesday’s unveiling of the 2012 Tirreno-Adriatico route, which includes two time trials and two hilltop finishes in what’s Italy’s second most important stage race.

“Tirreno-Adriatico is an important, and it’s perhaps even harder this year and I like it even more,” Scarponi said. “It will be the first important event of the season for me. With Contador and Evans at the start, it will not be easy to win, but we will enjoy the race.”

Scarponi’s win in 2009 marked his comeback from his racing ban after admitting his role in the Operación Puerto doping scandal and he’s since gone to have very good success, capped by second place overall in last year’s Giro behind Contador.

Contador’s presence at Tirreno this year is not assured as he’s waiting for the final verdict in his long-running clenbuterol case, expected to be released next week by the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

Other big names likely to start the weeklong race (March 7-13) include world champion Mark Cavendish (Sky), Fabian Cancellara (RadioShack-Nissan-Trek), Vincenzo Nibali and Peter Sagan (Liquigas-Cannondale), and Philippe Gilbert (BMC).

Details of the 2012 Tirreno-Adriatico stages:

Stage 1 – San Vincenzo – Donoratico (Team time trial) 16.9km This will be a super fast team time trial, giving this year’s Tirreno-Adriatico a spectacular start that will immediately shape the overall classification. The route covers a long straight road from San Vincenzo to Donoratico with a loop towards Castagneto Carducci before finishing in Donoratico. The average speed of the best team is expected to be between 53 and 54km/h.

Stage 2 – San Vincenzo – Indicatore (Arezzo) 230km This is the first stage for sprinters. However before the finish there are climbs to Volterra and Castellina in Chianti, while a 33.5km finishing circuit will be covered twice. The finish straight is seven meters wide and slightly downhill, favouring a fast sprint finish.

Stage 3 – Indicatore (Arezzo) – Terni 178km The only difficulty of the stage is the climb to Todi that has a double-digit gradient. After that the riders face 30km of rolling roads before Terni. The finish includes some roundabouts but is on wide roads.

Stage 4 – Amelia – Chieti 252km This is the longest stage of the race and the 252km route crosses the Apennines and touches the Adriatic coast. The testing finale begins after Scafa with the Passo Lanciano followed by another 25km of rolling hills. The stage ends in Chieti with the 18% climb of Via dei Marsi and Via del Tricalle. The steep road ends just one kilometer from the finish in Corso Marrucino. The stage has 2,800 meters of climbing.

Stage 5 – Martinsicuro – Prato di Tivo 196km This is the big mountain stage of the 2012 Tirreno-Adriatico. The 196km stage will be a real test of endurance and climbing. After passing Teramo, the riders climb Piano Roseto (20.8km at 4.7%) and then immediately start the climb to the finish. It is 14.5km long and has a 7% average gradient with sections at 12%. It was climbed during the 1975 Giro d’Italia when Giovanni Battaglin won ahead of Francisco Galdos. The stage has a total of 3,400 meters of climbing.

Stage 6 – Offida – Offida 181km This is largely a circuit stage. It begins with an 84km loop and the climb to Ripatransone, followed by six laps of the circuit used for the 2010 junior world road race championships. A sprint finish is expected but perhaps with a select group of riders.

Stage 7 – San Benedetto del Tronto (individual time trial) 9.3km This year’s Tirreno-Adriatico ends with an individual time trial in San Benedetto del Tronto. It starts in front of the Coast Guard and heads to Porto d’Ascoli on the seafront. From Piazza Salvo d’Acquisto (the time split), the route heads back to San Benedetto del Tronto for the finish in Viale Buozzi. The final 2.5km are on a long straight road.

22 teams (18 UCI ProTeams e 4 UCI Professional Teams) for Tirreno – Adriatico:

Acqua & Sapone (Ita); AG2R La Mondiale (Fra); Astana Pro Team (Kaz); BMC Racing Team (Usa); Colnago – CSF Inox (Irl); Colombia – Coldeportes (Col); Euskaltel – Euskadi (Esp); Farnese Vini –Selle Italia (Gbr); FDJ – Big Mat (Fra); Garmin – Cervelo (Usa); Greenedge Cycling Team (Aus); Katusha Team (Rus); Lampre – ISD (ITA); Liquigas – Cannondale (Ita); Lotto Belisol Team (Bel); Movistar Team (Esp); Omega Pharma – Quickstep (Bel); Rabobank Cycling Team (Ned); Radioshack – Nissan (Lux); SKY Procycling (Gbr); Team Saxo Bank (Den); Vacansoleil – DCM Pro Cycling Team (Ned)