Rabobank's Oscar Freire won a sprint finish to the sixth and penultimate stage of the Tirreno-Adriatico race in Italy on Monday. Freire took the 196km stage from Civitanova Marche and Castelfidaro ahead of two Italians — Filippo Pozzato and Danilo Di Luca. Fabian Cancellara of CSC retained the overall lead ahead of Tuesday's final stage.
Swiss rider Fabian Cancellara (Team CSC) took the overall lead at Tirreno-Adriatico after winning Sunday’s fifth stage, a 26km time trial from Macerata to Recanati. The two-time world time-trial champion finished in 33 minutes and 41 seconds, with American David Zabriskie (Slipstream-Chipotle) second at at 0:22 and Thomas L?okvist (Team High Road) third at 0:53.
Italian sprint king Alessandro Petacchi gained revenge on Oscar Freire by claiming the fourth stage of the Tirreno-Adriatico over 166km from Porto Recanati to Civitanova Marche on Saturday. Three days ago Petacchi was edged out by Freire in the race's opening stage. But this time the Team Milram rider turned the tables on the Spanish Rabobank leader with Italian Filippo Pozzato of Liquigas in third. Those three are the big favorites for the important Milan-San Remo classic on March 22.
Niklas Axelsson (PVC Diquigiovanni-Androni) slipped into the leader's jersey at Tirreno-Adriatico on Friday after finishing third in stage 3. Spaniard Joachim Rodriguez (Caisse d'Epargne) won the 195km leg from Gubbio to Montelupone with Italian Danilo Di Luca (Team LPR) second. An early escape by Jose Garcia Acosta (Caisse d'Epargne) and Lloyd Mondori (Ag2r) took a lead of more than eight minutes before being swept up in the final 20km.
Italian Raffaele Illiano (Diquigiovanni-Androni) won the second stage of Tirreno-Adriatico on Thursday, edging out countryman Enrico Gasparotto (Barloworld) in a sprint finish. Niklas Axelsson (Diquigiovanni-Androni) was third. The trio, with German Linus Gerdemann (Team High Road) and Saunier Duval teammates Riccardo Ricco and Eros Capecchi, went clear of the peloton on the last climb of the day, about 25km from the finale of the 203km leg from Civitavecchia to Gubbio.
Oscar Freire (Rabobank) proved fastest among an elite group of sprinters on Wednesday, winning the first stage of Tirreno-Adriatico. Freire won the 160km stage around Civitavecchia in 4:10:01, just nicking Alessandro Petacchi (Milram) and Jose Joaquin Rojas Gil (Caisse D'Epargne). The former world champion will wear the leader's blue jersey in Thursday's second stage, over 203km from from Civitavecchia to Gubbio.
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.
A banged up Magnus Bäckstedt (Slipstream-Chipotle) will return to competition in next month’s Tirreno-Adriatico stage race in Italy, a move that puts him on track to shine in the spring classics. Bäckstedt, 33, snapped his collarbone in a finish line crash during stage 5 at the Tour of Qatar last month. Following surgery, the 2004 Paris-Roubaix champion says his recovery is going better than expected.
The beleaguered Astana team – already excluded from the Giro d’Italia and Tour de France – received more bad news Tuesday after race organizers said the squad would not be invited at upcoming Italian races Tirreno-Adriatico and Milan-San Remo. That means Andreas Klöden, one of Astana’s top riders, won’t be able to defend his victory from last year at Tirreno-Adriatico. Both High Road and Slipstream-Chipotle earned bids to the important Italian races organized by RCS Sport, which also operates the Giro as well as other Italian events.
Andreas Klöden (Astana) retained his overall lead after the seventh and final stage to win the 42nd Tirreno-Adriatico cycling race on Tuesday. Koldo Fernandez (Euskaltel-Euskadi) won the 177km stage between Civitella del Tronto and San Benedetto del Tronto in four hours, 38 minutes and 43 seconds after a bunch sprint. It was the Spaniard's first win since he turned professional in 2004. Australian Stuart O'Grady (CSC) came in second and Italian Gabriele Balducci (Acqua e Sapone) was third. Italian sprint king Alessandro Petacchi (Milram) was knocked out of contention for the stage