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While giving live updates from the Paris-Nice stage, we will keep you updated on the action from the team time trial of Tirreno-Adriatico on

Photo: Sirotti


11.03.2014 @ 20:06 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

There won't be any chance for the GC riders to ease into this year's Tirreno-Adriatico as one of the crucial stages comes right at the beginning of the 7-day race. For the fourth year in row, the event opens with a flat team time trial along the Tyrrhenian coast that is almost a reversed copy of the one that has opened the two most recent edition of the Italian race. With long, flat roads, this is a day for the true specialists and we can expect a big battle between the teams that really specialize in this very unique discipline.


The course

For the third year in a row, the race kicks off with a team time trial between San Vincenzo and Donoratico and this year's stage is almost a reversed exact copy of the one that has been used for the past two editions. The distance has been increased from 16.9km to 18.5km, the course has been slightly modified both at the start and near the finish and it has been reversed, meaning that the riders  will travel from Donoratico to San Vincenzo.


From the start in Donoratico, the riders do a small loop in the area north of the city that was not part of the previous courses and which include a number of early turns. Having finished that small circuit, they turn left to leave the coast and head to the city of Castagneto Carducci along very slightly ascending roads.


Having reached that town, they turn around to head back to the coast along slightly descending roads and they reach the main coastal road a bit south of Donoratico after 11.3km of racing. This is the site of the intermediate check where the riders turn left and from there the final 7.2 are almost a long, straight road down the coast with very few technical challenges.


Thing get a bit more complicated when they reach the city of San Vincenzo as the riders will turn right in two roundabouts and do two sharp left-hand turns between the 2km to go mark and the flamme rouge. As soon as they pass the latter, it is all about putting down the hammer on the long straight coastal road that leads to the finish in the city centre.


The stage has very few elevation differences and plenty of long straight roads where the big TT specialists can excel and this is a course for the really powerful riders. The course may have been reversed and become a bit more technical than it has been in the past but it is very similar to the stages that have opened the past two editions of the race. Given the flat, non-technical nature of the course, it is no wonder that Orica-GreenEDGE and Omega Pharma-Quick Step who are probably the two greatest specialists in the discipline, are the winners of the past two opening stages and their powerful riders will again make them some of the favourites to come away with the win. In the past two years, however, the wind had played a role and given rather unequal circumstances for the early and later starters and the breeze from the sea could again influence the outcome of what is guaranteed to be a spectacular opening with lots of power and speed.





The weather

One of the elements that make Tirreno-Adriatico a preferred choice over Paris-Nice is the fact that the race usually enjoys better weather. This year, however, the French race has enjoyed summerlike conditions and as the conditions will be very similar in Italy, the riders that have done the two different races will be on a much more equal footing.


It will be a beautiful sunny day along the Tyrrhenian coast which will be in sharp contrast to the torrential race that influenced the stage two years ago. The temperatures will reach a maximum of 16 degrees at the midpoint of the day and there will only be a very light wind from an easterly direction. This means that the riders will have a headwind in the first part of the stage and a tailwind when they return to the coast while there should be a crosswind for the final section along the seafront.


In the past two years, the wind conditions changed a bit for the later starters and this will again be the case tomorrow where the wind may decrease a bit as the day goes on. As there is slightly more of a tail- than a headwind, this could be a small benefit for the early starters but as the wind is not very strong at all, we don't expect it to have a major impact on the race.


The favourites

The course may have been changed a bit compared to the past two years but as it is almost just a reversed copy of the previous one, it will be well-known by the riders. As both the course and the history prove, this is one for the biggest specialists as the long straight roads are perfect for the riders who can produce the most power. The tiny climbers won't be able to make much of a contribution on this kind of course and the stage will be one by  team that have some major powerhouses and a homogenous team where most of the riders can contribute to the pace-setting. This will be a stage for the teams that generally specialize in this discipline.


The Tour de France and the Worlds proved that two teams are currently a step above the rest when it comes to team time trialing. Orica-GreenEDGE and Omega Pharma-Quick Step have had some very close battles in both races and both teams put a lot of emphasis on this particular stage. It is no wonder that they are the two most recent winners of this opening stage and they should again be in the mix.


However, Omega Pharma-Quick Step have lost some of their best time trialists over the winter and they haven't brought all of their strongest specialists to this race as they have multiple objectives in Italy. As opposed to this, Orica-GreenEDGE have singled out the opening day as their most important one of the entire race and they have specifically prepared for tomorrow's battle.


The line-up is almost entirely composed of real specialists and only climber Ivan Santaromita and to a lesser extent Simon Clarke cannot be expected to deliver any major contribution to the pace-setting. As it was the case in the Tour de France, Svein Tuft will be the major powerhouse as he was it in the Tour de France and he will be joined by Michael Hepburn - who has stepped up his level massively in 2014 - Luke Durbridge, Daryl Impey, Jens Mouris, and Cameron Meyer to form an exceptional sextet of time trialists. At the same time, the team is very homogeneous and they have plenty of experience in this very special discipline. The combination of that firepower makes the Australian team the one to beat on the flat course in Italy.


We expect their biggest competition to come from a slightly different team than it has done in the most recent TTTs. Movistar finished 2nd in this stage one year ago and in the Giro TTT, they were again runner-ups. The team time trial has always been dear to manager Eusebio Unzue's heart and the team has done a lot of specific work to improve in the discipline.


This has paid off with their excellent results and this year they have added firepower from Adriano Malori who is a real specialist on short flat courses. With the Italian combining forces with Jonathan Castroviejo, Alex Dowsett, Andrey Amador, and Benat Intxausti, the team has all the firepower that is needed to win this stage. Riders like Nairo Quintana, Igor Anton, and Eros Capecchi will struggle to keep up with those five powerhouses and tomorrow could be the day when Movistar finally take a big TTT win.


Team Sky are perennial contenders in team time trials and the British team should again be in the mix. Led by Bradley Wiggins and Richie Porte, the team is mostly made up of strong time trialists as Kanstantsin Siutsou, Dario Cataldo, Peter Kennaugh, and Ian Stannard all know how to set a fast tempo on flat roads. The British team won't be far off the mark but actually they rarely win these TTTs. At the same time, they seem to lack a bit of depth as Wiggins and Porte stand a bit out above the rest who are solid and not spectacular time trialists. They are likely to come up short against teams who are more homogenous but no one can rule out a win for a team that is led by Bradley Wiggins.


Much of the same can be said about last year's winners Omega Pharma-Quick Step. They may be world champions in the discipline but they have lost a lot of good time trialists over the winter. At the same time, they have a lot of different objectives in this race and this leaves only two real specialists on the roster: Tony Martin and Michal Kwiatkowski. The sprint train of Mark Cavendish, Mark Renshaw, and Alessandro Petacchi will all make a solid contribution on this power course but the team is certainly not as strong as it was 12 months ago.


In the past, Martin has almost won TTTs single-handedly but this year the German has not been firing on all cylinders. Kwiatkowski is obviously in excellent condition and he will bring the team far but we doubt that it will be enough to take the win. OPQS will surely be up there but it will be difficult to repeat last year's win.


On paper, Trek and their predecessors Radioshack have always had a lot of good time trialists but for some reason they have often failed to translate it into good team time trial results. However, the team put on a real showing in the recent Driedaagse van West-Vlaanderen prologue and there is really a lot of firepower on their roster. Fabian Cancellara will be the driving force but he can expect solid contributions from Stijn Devolder, Jesse Sergent, Hayden Roulston, Markel Irizar, and Yaroslav Popovych who have all performed well in past time trials. A win will be difficult to obtain but the team certainly has the firepower to finish on the podium.


Tinkoff-Saxo still haven't won a team time trial and it is unlikely to happen tomorrow. However, the team is extremely powerful and they should finish very close to the best. That will be important for Alberto Contador's GC ambitions and he certainly can't be dissatisfied with the amount of firepower at his disposal. Manuele Boaro and Daniele Bennati are both excellent time trialists and Roman Kreuziger, Michael Mørkøv, Matteo Tosatto, and Sergio Paulinho should all make solid contributions as well. The team may be more focused on time gaps than their placing but they have a good reason to be confident.


Finally, we will select our joker. On paper, Cannondale have never had the biggest specialists but they have always been riding well in TTTs. That's likely to be the case tomorrow where Peter Sagan will combine forces with Moreno Moser, Maciej Bodnar, and Kristijan Koren to form the backbone of a solid, homogeneous team. They won't take the win but if everything goes well, a top 5 is certainly within their reach.


CyclingQuotes' stage winner pick: Orica-GreenEDGE

Other winner candidates: Movistar, Sky

Outsiders: Omega Pharma-Quick Step, Trek, Tinkoff-Saxo

Joker: Cannondale



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