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While Cancellara crushed the opposition in the final time trial, beating Le Bon by 13 seconds and Martin by 15 seconds, Van Avermaet took the overall victory in Tirreno-Adriatico with a 1-second advantage over Sagan

Photo: Trek-Segafredo

BOB JUNGELS

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FABIAN CANCELLARA

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GREG VAN AVERMAET

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JOHAN LE BON

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PETER SAGAN

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TIRRENO - ADRIATICO

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TONY MARTIN

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TREK - SEGAFREDO

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15.03.2016 @ 16:44 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Fabian Cancellara (Trek) continued his love affair with the final Tirreno-Adriatico time trial by taking a fourth win on the flat course in San Benedetto del Trento. The Swiss was in a class of his own as he beat Johan Le Bon (FDJ) by a massive 13 seconds over the 10.05km distance while Tony Martin (Etixx-QuickStep) was another two seconds behind in third. Greg Van Avermaet (BMC) took the biggest stage race victory of his career after a huge drama as he beat Peter Sagan (Tinkoff) into second by a 1-second margin, with Bob Jungels (Etixx-QuickStep) being a distant third after a disappointing ride against the clock.

 

Fabian Cancellara has been adamant that he wants to go out on a high. His motivation has been evident right from the start of the year when he took a surprise win the Challenge Mallorca and since then he has bid farewell to his preferred races in the best possible way.

 

Cancellara’s first big goal was Strade Bianche which he won for a record third time. His second traditional highlight in March has traditionally been the final time trial of Tirreno-Adriatico which he has won no less than three times out of five.

 

Today Cancellara got a final chance to come out on top on the flat 10.05km out-and-back course in San Benedetto del Tronto and based on his previous performances, he entered the race as the overwhelming favourite. He fully lived up to expectations by crushing the opposition completely, putting a massive 13 seconds into his nearest rival on the flat route.

 

Cancellara started around the midpoint of the stage at a time when Johan Le Bon (FDJ) was a surprise leader with a time of 11.21. Having put 14 seconds into the Frenchman at the midpoint, the Swiss battled a stronger headwind in the second part and did extremely well by only losing one second, riding to a dominant victory.

 

Le Bon was a surprise second while it was another disappointment for Tony Martin who was two seconds further adrift in third and nearly missed out on the podium, being just fractions of a second faster than Alex Dowsett (Movistar). Tom Leezer (LottoNL-Jumbo) was another big surprise in fifth while world champion Vasil Kiryienka is still searching for a first win in the rainbow jersey as he settled for ninth.

 

The real drama was not about the stage win. Instead, it was the battle for the overall win that had everybody on the edge of their seats. Going into the race, it was expected to come down to a battle between race leader Greg Van Avermaet, Peter Sagan and Bob jungels, with the latter two having to make up 7 and 21 seconds respectively.

 

It quickly became apparent that there would be no glory for Jungels – on paper the best time triallist of the trio – as he was in the same time as Sagan at the time check. The Luxembourger lost further ground in the final part and had to settle for a disappointing 26th place on the stage in 11.41.

 

Van Avermaet looked like he was on track for a comfortable victory when he had only lost one second to Sagan at the time check. However, when Sagan reached the finish, his time of 11.32 was good enough for 11th and it became evident that he had finished the stage very strong.

 

Suddenly, the GPS times showed that Van Avermaet had lost 7 seconds as he passed the flamme rouge and so it became a nail-biting affair. The Belgian dug deep in the final kilometre and everybody held their breath as he sprinted towards the line. In the end, the clock stopped in 11.39 which was just enough to take the overall victory with a slim 1-second advantage over Sagan.

 

Jungels’ poor performance nearly cost him a spot on the podium as the FDJ pair of Sebastien Reichenbach and Thibaut Pinot did very well to finish in the same time and in top 20. However, they both ended one second behind the Luxembourger who secured third place, 23 seconds behind Van Avermaet.

 

The big loser was Zdenek Stybar (Etixx-QuickStep) who had a disastrous day and slipped to seventh in the overall standings, with Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) doing well to move into sixth. Michal Kwiatkowski (Sky) did poorly and could only move up one spot to 8th while Bauke Mollema (Trek) moved into ninth with a good performance. Roman Kreuziger (Tinkoff) completed the top 10.

 

Sagan won the points competition and Cesare Benedetti (Bora-Argon 18) emerged as the best climber. Jungels was the best young rider and Etixx-QuickStep was the best team.

 

With Tirreno-Adriatico done and dusted, the next WorldTour race is also held on Italian soil. On Saturday, it is time for the first monument of the season, Milan-Sanremo.

 

A flat course for the specialists

After the surprisingly dramatic sixth stage, Tirreno-Adriatico ended with the usual flat 10.05km time trial in San Benedetto del Tronto. It was an out-and-back course along the coastal road and was completely flat, meaning that it was a day for the biggest specialist.

 

It was a sunny day when Svein Tuft (Orica-GreenEDGE) rolled down the ramp as the first rider. He stopped the clock in 12.19 to set an early mark but it didn’t take long for him to get beaten. Ramunas Navardauskas (Cannondale) who was 32 seconds faster with a time of 11.47.

 

An early lead for Lampaert

Mark Cavendish (Dimension Data) had a fine ride to slot into second with 12.04 but it was his former teammate Yves Lampaert (Etixx-QuickStep) who got most attention. Having posted a blisteringly fast intermediate time, the Belgian stopped the clock in 11.33 to take the lead. Elia Viviani (Sky) also did well with 12.06 which was good enough for fourth.

 

Taylor Phinney (BMC) was expected to be the first rival for Lampaert and he was close. Five seconds behind at the time check, he finished strongly to stop the clock in 11.33, missing out on the lead by less than a second. His teammate Jempy Drucker became the fourth rider to go under 12 minutes with 11.59 before Mattia Cattaneo (Lampre-Merida) posted a time of 11.58. Manuel Quinziato (BMC) was one of the outsiders but he delivered a surprisingly poor performance with a time of 11.55.

 

Best time for Le Bon

It was already evident that Le Bon was on a good day as he has posted a fine intermediate time that was just five seconds behind Lampaert, but few had expected him to blast across the line in 11.21 to beat the Belgian by a massive 12 seconds. However, he came under immediate threat from Alex Dowsett (Movistar) who had been three seconds faster at the intermediate check. The Brit was unable to maintain the speed and had to settle for second with 11.23.

 

Marci Coledan (Trek) with 11.54 and Christopher Juul (Orica-GreenEDGE) with top 10 both slotted into the top 10 before Roger Kluge (IAM) confirmed his good form with a time of 11.39. Jesse Sergent (Ag2r) had a disappointing ride with 11.50 and things were not much better for Luke Durbridge (Orica-GreenEDGE) who had to settle for 11.39.

 

Disappointment for Martin

Le Bon probably expected to be beaten by Martin and the German seemed to be on track when he passed the intermediate check in a time that was two seconds faster than the Frenchman. However, the former world champion was unable to maintain the speed and had to settle for second with 11.23, 2 seconds off the pace.

 

Jasha Sütterlin (Movistar) slotted into the top 10 with a time of 11.44 but it was Maciej Bodnar (Tinkoff) who was expected to be the next threat. He got close but had to settle for fourth with a time of 11.25. Surprisingly, Tom Leezer (LottoNL-Jumbo) who has never done a good time trial before was even faster with 11.24.

 

Kiryienka off the pace

Daniel Oss (BMC) failed to make it into the top 10 with 11.45 so the attention soon turned to world champion Vasil Kiryienka (Sky). A fast start saw the Belarusian post the best intermediate time but he lost ground in the headwind and his time of 11.28 saw him slot into sixth.

 

Stephen Cummings (Dimension Data) confirmed his good form with a time of 11.32 which saw him move into seventh while Manuele Boaro (Tinkoff) suffered after a fast start and had to settle for 11.36 to just make it into the top 10. He was pushed down one spot by Søren Kragh Andersen (Giant-Alpecin) who was fractions of a second faster but the Dane lost his spot among the best 10 less than a minute later when Stef Clement (IAM) stopped the clock in 11.35

 

Cancellara crushes the opposition

Lluis Mas (Caja Rural) had a fine ride with 11.42 while Danile Bennati (Tinkoff) cracked after a good start, stopping the clock in 11.53. It was a disappointing ride for Jan Barta (Bora-Argon 18) who could only manage 11.46.

 

All eyes quickly turned to Cancellara and he immediately proved that he was on fire. At the time check, he was 9 seconds faster than Kiryienka who was best at that point, and ultimately powered across the line in 11.08 to lower the mark by 13 seconds.

 

Geniez surprises

Jack Bauer (Cannondale) posted a fast intermediate time but like so many other, he suffered in the headwind and had to settle for 11.42. Instead, Alexandre Geniez (FDJ) became the next FDJ rider to deliver a surprise as he slotted into seventh with 11.26 after having been second at the time check.

 

Rigoberto Uran (Cannondale) had a disastrous ride with 12.23 so the focus turned to Nelson Oliveira (Movistar). The Portuguese champion was third at the time check but lost ground on the way back and had to settle for 10th with 11.32. He was pushed out of the top 10 by Reto Hollenstein (IAM) who was just fractions of a second faster.

 

Boasson Hagen misses out

Tejay van Garderen (BMC) was unable to bounce back from yesterday’s disappointment and had a bad day with 12.08. Things were much better for Edvald Boasson Hagen (Dimension Data) who was second at the time check, 6 seconds off the pace, but lost ground in the final part, stopping the clock in 11.27 to slot into 8th.

 

Damiano Caruso (BMC) delivered the TT of his life when he posted a time of 11.30 to move into 10th. It was much better than Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) who could only manage 11.58.

 

Great performance by FDJ climbers

Mollema showed that he would have been ready to fight for the overall victory by having a good ride with a time of 11.48 and that allowed him to move into the top 10. After a fast start, Nibali did even better as his time off 11.34 was enough to take 16th place.

 

Much was expected from Kwiatkowski but 11.47 was only good enough for 30th and things weren’t better for Kreuziger who could only manage 11.57. Reichenbach and Pinot continued a great day for FDJ by posting the same time of 11.35 to move into the top 5 overall and finish the stage in the top 20.

 

Van Avermaet wins the race

Gianluca Brambilla (Etixx-QuickStep) had a hard time on the power course and his time of 12.10 saw him slip out of the top 10 overall. Jungels continued the bad day for the Belgian team as he had to settle for 24th with 11.41 and the fiasco was complete when Stybar could only manage 12.05 for 81st place.

 

In between those two riders, Sagan had moved into 11th with 11.32 and the scene was set for a thrilling battle. 11.39 and 24th place was enough for Van Avermaet to come out on top, taking a win that no one had expected at the start of the race.

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