World time trial champion Tony Martin won the 9.2km individual time trial 6 seconds ahead of Lampre-Merida’s Adriano Malori but it was Vincenzo Nibali‘s day, making it two in a row at Tirreno-Adriatico in front of his home crowd.
Nibali, yet winless in 2013 season, finished the stage in 12th place, 11 seconds slower than Chris Froome but enough to defend his Maglia Azzurra. Omega Pharma-Quickstep’s young polish rider Michal Kwiatkowski finished in 8th place, only 1 second short of his 2nd possible podium of the year, after his strong place finish in Volta ao Algarve. Katusha’s Joaquim Rodriguez drifted away from the podium with his poor time-trialing skills but it is good to see him steadily improving over the past few years. This time, he was only 13 seconds slower than his biggest rival Alberto Contador who finished the race in third place.
“I was really, really happy with this Tirreno. It was really important to win,” said Vincenco Nibali. “This was more important than last year because of all the riders who came, like Chris Froome and Alberto Contador.”
This was Tony Martin’s second ITT win of the season and his form keeps building ahead of the bigger and harder races, where he’ll be an integral part of Omega Pharma’s; both in the classics and the grand tours. “I was looking for this day because the mountains weren’t for me, I had full focus for the day and I’m happy I won. It’s my first time here. My climbing has been getting better day by day, but I still need some time to improve. It’s still early in the season but I’m happy with the stage win. It’s been a good race for the team, ” told Tony Martin. Movistar’s Costa Rican rider Andrey Amador Bakkazakova finished the stage in 3rd place, 10 seconds slower than Martin.
Final General Classification
1. Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Astana Pro Team 28:08:17
2. Christopher Froome (GBr) Sky Procycling 23″
3. Alberto Contador Velasco (Spa) Team Saxo-Tinkoff 52″
4. Michal Kwiatkowski (Pol) Omega Pharma-Quick Step 53″
5. Joaquim Rodriguez Oliver (Spa) Katusha 54″
6. Christopher Horner (USA) RadioShack Leopard 1′ 21″
7. Mauro Santambrogio (Ita) Vini Fantini-Selle Italia 2′ 03″
8. Andrey Amador Bakkazakova (CRc) Movistar Team 2′ 42″
9. Przemyslaw Niemiec (Pol) Lampre-Merida 3′ 19″
10. Wouter Poels (Ned) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team 3′ 35″
Stage 7 Results
1. Tony Martin (Ger) Omega Pharma-Quick Step 0:10:25
2. Adriano Malori (Ita) Lampre-Merida 6″
3. Andrey Amador Bakkazakova (CRc) Movistar Team 10″
It is the last day of Tirreno-Adriatico and in the penultimate stage will be an individual time-trial, in one of the most important touristic centers of Adriatic Coast, San Benedetto del Tronto on 12 March, Tuesday. The stage is flat and relatively short, 9.2 km in length. And it won’t be enough for Chris Froome or Alberto Contador to close the gap.
Both Froome and Contador are excellent time-trialists but Vincenzo Nibali in maglia azzurra will not lose his 34 seconds margin unless he slips in a corner. We may have rain showers in the afternoon but they’ll all start back to back and suffer equally and to be honest, I don’t think Nibali will risk it much.
There are no time bonuses, and most recently Nibali finished the Tour de San Luis 19 km time-trial stage in fourth place, Michal Kwiatkowski was third, 3 seconds faster than Nibali and Contador was 43 seconds behind.
It’ll be Froome’s first time-trial this season. Last year in TdF, he came second after Bradley Wiggins where Nibali was in the Top 20 of both time-trial stages. And within the 90 km combined, Froome managed to make a difference of 3:52. If you do the math, with last year’s performance repeating itself, Froome will still only ride 23.5 seconds faster than Nibali; that won’t be enough…
The stage suits Tony Martin very well and he should be written down as the strongest candidate to win the time-trial, Fabian Cancellara and Lars Boom are also close to winning.
And finally, podium prediction:
1. Vincenzo Nibali
2. Chris Froome
3. Michal Kwiatkowski
GC before Stage 7
1. Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Astan a Pro Team 27:57:26
2. Christopher Froome (GBr) Sky Procycling 34″
3. Joaquim Rodriguez Oliver (Spa) Katusha 37″
4. Alberto Contador Velasco (Spa) Team Saxo-Tinkoff 48″
5. Michal Kwiatkowski (Pol) Omega Pharma-Quick Step 58″
6. Christopher Horner (USA) RadioShack Leopard 1′ 05″
7. Mauro Santambrogio (Ita) Vini Fantini-Selle Italia 1′ 20″
8. Pryzemyslaw Niemiec (Pol) Lampre-Merida 2′ 54″
9. Andrey Amador Bakkazakova (CRc) Movistar Team 2′ 58″
10. Wout Poels (Ned) Vacansoleil-DCM 3′ 08″
Despite failing to draw enough attention this year from the TdF contenders (most of them will be in Tirreno-Adriatico instead), Paris-Nice, a 2.HC race in UCI Wold Tour is always considered as a stepping stone before the TdF. “‘If I can win Paris-Nice, I can win the Tour de France’”, said Bradley Wiggins to the media in 2012, after defending his yellow jersey in the uphill time-trial event in Col d’Èze. The same stage will as well be the final stage of this year’s race.
Paris-Nice past winners include Sean Kelly (7), Jacques Anquetil (5), Eddy Merckx (3) and Laurent Jalabert (3). Most recently Alexandre Vinokourov (2), Alberto Contador (2) and Tony Martin claimed the yellow jersey in this season-opener dating back to 1933.