Monday, March 9, 2015



From Wed. March 11 to Tue. March 17, 2015

The 2015 edition of the always-thrilling Tirreno-Adriatico World Tour stage race begins on Wednesday, and already the race has seen major changes. The third WT stage race of 2015 was to be the first showdown between the four top Tour De France favorites: Chris Froome of Team SKY, Alberto Contador of Tinkoff-Saxo Bank, Vincenzo Nibali of Astana, and Nairo Quintana of Team Movistar. On Monday, Team SKY announced that their team leader and race favorite, Chris Froome, would be pulled from the startlist due to a chest infection. So that four-way showdown will have to wait. Last month, Nairo Quintana was forced to miss the start at the Vuelta a Andalucia, after crashing in the Colombian National Championships. That race was supposed to have been the first meeting between the Colombian and Contador and Froome. Perhaps the deferred suspense will build toward an even more thrilling Tour De France, this July.

In addition to the TA race's GC favorite pulling out, the top sprinter, Marcel Kittel of Giant-Alpecin has been scratched as well. As has another in-form sprinter, Tom Van Asbroeck of the Lotto-Jumbo team. Plenty of talent remains on the roster however, to contest the seven stages that stretch from sea to sea, across the breadth of Italy.

Alberto Contador comes back to defend his 2014 T-A win
The other big change is the removal of the opening stage 22k team time trial. Heavy downpours and high winds are to blame for the organizers' opting to change the stage to a short prologue. The opening stage prologue will be a quick 5.7k individual TT now.

Favorites for the overall General Classification include the aforementioned Contador, Nibali, and Quintana, but two other riders who might have something to say about the GC this week include Rigoberto Uran (Etixx-Quickstep) and Bauke Mollema (Trek Factory Racing). Domenico Pozzovivo (AG2R) and Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha) might also be considered typical favorites in a climber-friendly race, but the two book-end time trial stages could create some challenging time deficits for the pure climbers to overcome.

A few other riders to keep an eye on to contest the top-ten on GC are: Jurgen Van Den Broeck and Maxim Monfort (Lotto-Soudal), Leo Konig and Wout Poels (SKY), Julien Arredondo (TFR), Thibaut Pinot (FDJ), Daniel Moreno and Giampaolo Caruso (KAT), Javier Moreno (Movistar), Damiano Caruso (BMC), Przemislaw Niemiec (Lampre), Louis Meintjes (MTN Qhubeka), Ryder Hesjedal and Dan Martin (Team Cannondale-Garmin), and Adam Yates (Orica-GreenEDGE).

The race also includes three sprint stages, though one will be an uphill sprint finish; a mountainous stage 4 that ends with an uphill sprint after a 6k descent; the mountaintop finish on stage 5 will provide the climbers with their best opportunity to gain time they may lose in the TTs. The 194k stage 5 finishes on top of the category-1 Termenillo (16k at 7.3%). The final stage is a pan-flat 10k Individual Time Trial.

Overall race profile of the 2015 Tirreno-Adriatico, updated

Each sprinter will be a little more secure with his chances on the fast flat finishes with the absence of Marcel Kittel. The standout marquis names remaining are Mark Cavendish (EQS) and Peter Sagan (TSB). Other notable contenders for the flat sprints include Elia Viviani, Ian Stannard, Luka Mezgec, Mateo Pelucchi, Sam Bennett, Pim Ligthart, Sacha Modolo, Mark Renshaw, Nicola Ruffoni, Max Richeze, Lloyd Mondory*, and Fran Ventoso.
Greg Van Avermaet and Daniel Oss of BMC are among the fast finishers who can excel on the tougher, uphill sprint-finish. So are Nikki Terpstra, Zdenek Stybar, Edvald Boasson Hagen, Nathan Haas, Sep Vanmarcke, Pipo Pozzato, Simon Geschke, Jens Debusschere, Jurgen Roelandts, Luca Paolini, Jelle Vanendert, Mathieu Ladagnous, and Daniele Bennati. If Peter Sagan doesn't start to show better results after this race, it may be time to start worrying. The big Classics races he is targeting are right around the corner...
*Lloyd Mondory returned a positive out-of-competition test for EPO in February, so he is scratched.


7 stages: 5 road, 1 TTT, 2 short ITTs (2 days prior to start, the race swaps out the opening TTT for a prolgue TT, citing weather issues).
22 eight-man teams: all 18 WT teams, plus Bardiani, Bora-Argon 18, Team Colombia, and MTN-Qhubeka.


Stage 1: 5.7k Prologue ITT;   22.7k pan-flat TTT.

Stage 2: 153k from Camaiore to Cascina; Flat-ish; Bunch sprint finish.

Stage 3: 203k from Cascino to Arezzo; Flat-ish; Punchy, uphill sprint finish [900m at 5% (11% max at bottom)].

Final kms of stage 3

Stage 4: 218k from Indicatore to Castelraimondo; [Good for escape];
Starts with a short hill at about km10, then flat for 60k; then low rolling until km139; then two big climbs: the Poggio San Romualdo (10k at 7%), and Monte San Vicino (11.5k at 7.1%; tops out at km182, 26k to the finish; 

The San Vicino climb profile, stage 4

After the San Vicino descent, it's up and down to the final categorized climb, which is ridden twice. The Crispiero climb is a steep 3k, with a 15% max near the top. The first ascent tops out with about 19k to go, before the descent, and second ascent. The second and final climb tops out with about 6.25k to go, mostly downhill, until the final few hundred meters uphill to the finish line in Castelraimondo.

The stage-4 finish circuit

Stage 5: 194k MTF from Esanatoglia to the cat-1 Terminillo (up to 1675m up the 2216m-high ski mountain; 16k long at 7.25% average grade).
It's a pretty steady 7-8% until the final km, which flattens out on top. Three other categorized climbs along the way.

Stage 5 profile

The Terminillo, stage 5 summit finish

Stage 6: 210k mostly flat; Bunch sprint, possibly reduced;
Three little bumps in first 150k (just 1 cat'd climb, around km131 (around 5k, maybe around 5%?)). Final 68k mostly flat, 2 laps of a 14.4k circuit, final 4k are pan-flat.

Stage 6 profile

The final TT has very few corners

Stage 7: Pan flat 10k ITT;
Not very technical, very few turns. Almost straight out and back, will favor power TT guys. Malori, Durbridge, and Cancellara should excel.

Overall Route Breakdown:

2 bunch sprints (stages 2 and 6)
1 uphill sprint (stage 3)
1 MTF (stage 5)
1 climby classics/escapee stage (stage 4)
1 long-ish TTT (stage 1)*
2 short, flat ITTs (stages 1, 7)

The opening TTT is important; the winner will probably hold the leader's jersey until stage 4 or 5. The two strongest TTT teams on paper look like OGE (Best GC hope: Yates) and TFR (Mollema). EQS, SKY, TCS, MOV, and AST are capable of limiting time losses in the TTT for their leaders, Uran, Froome, Contador, Quintana and Nibali, respectively. Purito, Pinot, Pozzovivo and Rolland may not be so lucky.

*Stage 1 TTT replaced by ITT Prologue.
Stage 5 is the queen stage with the cat-1 MTF.

Categorized climbs in the 2015 Tirreno-Adriatico


1. Contador  2. Uran  3. Nibali  4. Quintana  5. Mollema  6. Pozzovivo  7. Caruso  8. Monfort  9. Moreno  10. Yates  11. Purito  12. Van Den Broecke

My pick for the overall win: ALBERTO CONTADOR.
Backup pick: Rigo URAN.
Points Jersey pick: Peter SAGAN.

Enjoy the race!


  1. Now that's one bad ass picture of contador!

    1. Yeah, it's actually from the brutal cobbled stage 5 of last year's Tour de France, which claimed Chris Froome as an early crash-out victim (perhaps surprisingly, Froome was the only casualty that day).
      I am really sorry I can't find the photo credit. I have been scouring various archives looking for it. A lot of epic photos were taken that day. If anyone knows the correct credit, please let me know.
      Maybe it would have been more appropriate to use a shot from Tirreno-Adriatico, which he won last year, of course. But it's just such a great shot. Thanks Katie!