Tirreno-Adriatico 2013 – Race Report


Tirreno-Adriatico attracted many big names for its 2013 edition, but eventually it was last year’s winner Vincenzo Nibali victorious once again, in Astana colors this time. Team Sky’s Tour De France GC hope Chris Froome finished the podium in second place whereas Team Saxo-Tinkoff’s Alberto Contador finished third.

In the initial team time trial stage, it was Omega Pharma Quick-Step to cross the finish line fastest, putting Mark Cavendish into the overall lead. Australian sprinter Matthew Goss from Orica GreenEdge won the first sprint stage of the tour, and it was Cannodale’s Peter Sagan outsprinting Mark Cavendish and Andre Greipel in the third stage.

In the queen stage of the race, the pelaton arrived to the mountains for a mountaintop finish in Prati di Tivo, which was goodbye to Maglia Azzura for Cavendish. Froome won the stage and shaked the general standings dramatically and thanks to the TTT performance of OMQ in the first stage, Polish rider Michal Kwiatkowski stepped into the overall lead. Despite having only an overnight lead and losing time afterwards, Kwiatkowski still managed to finish the race in fourth place and on top of the young riders’ classification; pretty impressive for the 22-year-old Polish.

The fifth stage had Peter Sagan’s name written all over it, but he cracked on the drag of Pietragrossa with 6 kilometers to go before the finish line and Joaquim Rodriguez was then unrivaled in Chieti. it was Froome’s turn to wear the leader’s jersey this time.

The sixth stage, a transition stage in paper, proved once again how spectacular pro cycling can be. Peter Sagan won his second stage of the tour and Vincenzo Nibali advanced to the overall lead. Nibali now had 34 seconds lead over Chris Froome before the penultimate individual time trial, which he easily defended and won the Tirreno-Adriatico for the second year in a row.

Alberto Contador led the points classification, thanks to mostly his attacks for seconds modifications in the sprint gates; and some were positioned very elegantly indeed. Damiano Cunego of Lampre-Merida won the mountains classification with his breakaway performances in the fifth and sixth stages. Finally, congratulations to Movistar, they finished on top of the teams classification with four riders in the top 40.

Andy Schleck, meanwhile again failed to finish the tour. After Tour Down Under, Tour Mediterraneen and Strade Bianchi, his retirement in Stage 6 was his fourth quit this season. So far, he only managed to finish G.P. Camaiore, 5:30 behind winner Peter Sagan; not promising at all for the grand tours ahead.

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″

Points Classification

1. Alberto Contador Velasco (Spa) Team Saxo-Tinkoff 27 pts
2. Peter Sagan (Svk) Cannondale Pro Cycling 26 pts
3. Christopher Froome (GBr) Sky Procycling 25 pts

Mountains Classification

1. Damiano Cunego (Ita) Lampre-Merida 20 pts
2. Cesare Benedetti (Ita) Team NetApp-Endura 13 pts
3. Garikoitz Bravo Oiarbide (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi 10 pts

Young Rider Classification

1. Michal Kwiatkowski (Pol) Omega Pharma-Quick Step 28:09:10
2. Tom Jelte Slagter (Ned) Blanco Pro Cycling Team 16′ 34″
3. Arthur Vichot (Fra) FDJ 16′ 47″

Teams Classification

1. Movistar Team 83:57:42
2. Sky Procycling 2′ 30″
3. Katusha 15′ 40″

Nibali defended Maglia Azzurra in Penultimate ITT


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″

Tirreno-Adriatico 2013 Preview – Stage 7


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″

Rodriguez Unmatched on Final Climb


Team SKY once again worked very hard and managed to drop Peter Sagan 6 kilometers to go on the drag of Pietragrossa. Overnight race leader Michal Kwiatkowski stayed within the group until the final ramp in Chieti but Joaquim Rodriguez‘s solo break with more than a kilometer to go was the end of his jersey dream. Katusha’s Rodriguez soloed all the way to the top to collect his second win of the season, while the rest of the GC contenders upped the pace even more, cracking Kwiatkowski.

Bauke Mollema of Blanco came second, winning the sprint amongst the elite climbers and Alberto Contador came third, getting the last time bonus. Despite finishing the stage in 5th spot, Chris Froome is now the race leader as we’re heading to a spectacular 9.2 km time trial on Tuesday. For tomorrow, we’ll have a transition stage, very likely with little impact on GC. Contador, with his attacks for the sprint gates, now leads the points classification and will wear the red jersey tomorrow.

GC after Stage 5

1. Christopher Froome (GBr) Sky Procycling 22:11:53
2. Alberto Contador Velasco (Spa) Team Saxo-Tinkoff 20″
3. Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Astana Pro Team
4. Michal Kwiatkowski (Pol) Omega Pharma-Quick Step 24″
5. Christopher Horner (USA) RadioShack Leopard 37″
6. Mauro Santambrogio (Ita) Vini Fantini-Selle Italia 52″
7. Joaquim Rodriguez Oliver (Spa) Katusha 55″
8. Rigoberto Uran Uran (Col) Sky Procycling 57″
9. Roman Kreuziger (Cze) Team Saxo-Tinkoff 1′ 27″
10. Sergio Luis Henao Montoya (Col) Sky Procycling 1′ 51″

Stage 5 Results

1. Joaquim Rodriguez Oliver (Spa) Katusha 6:06:43
2. Bauke Mollema (Ned) Blanco Pro Cycling Team 8″
3. Alberto Contador Velasco (Spa) Team Saxo-Tinkoff

Froome wins Prati di Tivo, Kwiatkowski stepped into Maglia Azzurra


SKY proved once again how strong their team is, it was BMC that led the peloton to the footsteps of Prati Di Tivo, then SKY took the lead with Sergio HenaoDario Cataldo and Rigoberto Uran respectively to carry their leader Chris Froome to the top; ignoring the attacks from Alberto Contador only by keeping their pace high.

We saw Cadel Evans and Joaquim Rodriguez losing contact with the front group; and just before the final kilometers, it was down to 7 riders. Froome, with 1 kilometer to go, made the attack no one could respond to and won the queen stage of this year’s Tirreno-Adriatico.

“I’m really happy with that victory, it was a really good day for us,” told Froome. “I only ended up doing a kilometer in the wind myself. It really was an armchair ride. My team did great work. They all helped me to be up there in the finale and fresher than everyone else.”

Michal Kwiatkowski of Omega Pharma-QuickStep, despite finishing the stage in 4th place, thanks to OPQ’s astonishing TTT in the first stage, now sits on top of GC. Another OPQ rider, Mark Cavendish still leads the points classification and will wear the red jersey.

GC after Stage 4

1. Michal Kwiatkowski (Pol) Omega Pharma-Quick Step 16:04:59
2. Christopher Froome (GBr) Sky Procycling 4″
3. Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Astana Pro Team 16″
4. Alberto Contador Velasco (Spa) Team Saxo-Tinkoff 30″
5. Rigoberto Uran Uran (Col) Sky Procycling 33″
6. Christopher Horner (USA) RadioShack Leopard 40″
7. Mauro Santambrogio (Ita) Vini Fantini-Selle Italia 55″
8. Jonathan Castroviejo Nicolas (Spa) Movistar Team 1′ 04″
9. Roman Kreuziger (Cze) Team Saxo-Tinkoff 1′ 16″
10. Joaquim Rodriguez Oliver (Spa) Katusha

Stage 4 Results

1. Christopher Froome (GBr) Sky Procycling 04:41:31
2. Mauro Santambrogio (Ita) Vini Fantini-Selle Italia 6″
3. Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Astana Pro Team 11″

Tirreno-Adriatico 2013 Preview – Stage 4


The queen-stage of Tirreno-Adriatico between Narni and Prati Di Tivo on 9th March, Saturday will be the real duel between the general classification contenders.

The same riders in the field today, seeking a stage win in Prati Di Tivo were also present in Tour of Oman this year. It was Joaquim Rodriguez winning the Green Mountain stage, Chris Froome with 4 seconds behind grabbed the yellow jersey and kept it later on; Cadel Evans came third 22 seconds behind and it was Alberto Contador and Vincenzo Nibali with 30+ seconds behind finishing 4th and 5th.

Green Mountain is a 10%, 6 km climb with sectors reaching 18%, Prati Di Tivo is a 14.6 km with 7.1% average climb, 12% at max. It can be a bit hard for Rodriguez to attack in the final kilometer or sprint in the last meters this time, but still we’ll have to wait and see to find out who is in better form.

Last year, it was Vincenzo Nibali winning, 16 seconds ahead of Roman Kreuziger in the snow-capped hills of Prati Di Tivo. It will be the day Mark Cavendish says goodbye to Maglia Azzurra and the GC race gets shaped.

Final Climb – Prati Di Tivo


Paris-Nice 2013 Preview – Stage 5


The 5th stage of Paris-Nice, Châteauneuf-du-Pape / La Montagne de Lure etappe on 8th March, Friday is the queen stage of the race. To win Paris-Nice, you have to shine on Sunday’s time-trial but you can very well lose it here. The final climb is a grueling 13.8 kilometre-long climb at 6.6%, which should actually be categorized as HC in grand tour standards.

The stage is almost identical to 2009’s Stage 6, which was won by Alberto Contador over Frank Schleck by 58 seconds. There are 8 riders now who are less than 10 seconds behind race leader Andrew Talansky, and with the time bonuses, the winner of this stage will most probably also wear the yellow jersey. It’ll be a though day for Talansky, with so many riders so close in the GC, he’ll need to retaliate a constant wave of attacks within an elite group, and a passive defending mindset may mean the end of his yellow jersey dream.

The Final Climb


OPQ wins TTT – Cavendish became the first leader


Omega Pharma Quick-Step was the fastest team in the Tirreno-Adriatico opener and they put Mark Cavendish into the overall lead. They were down to 5 riders for the final kilometers, but thanks to German powerhouse Tony Martin, OPQ finished 11 seconds ahead of Movistar and 16″ away from BMC.

Amongst the pre-race favorites, Cadel Evans has now 4 seconds margin over last year’s winner Vincenzo Nibali, 9″ over Chris Froome and 13″ over Alberto Contador. “The differences are important, we lost 16 seconds with BMC and also lost time to Astana and Sky, who are direct rivals, but we cannot think that this is definitive. It is true that these races are won or lost by a few seconds, but well, this is just beginning,” told Contador after the stage.


1. Omega Pharma-Quick Step 19′ 24″
2. Movistar Team 11″
3. BMC Racing Team 16″

Tirreno-Adriatico 2013 – Riders’ List


3 teams are invited as wildcard entries besides the 19 pro tour teams; Vini Fantini-Selle Italia from Italy, Team NetApp-Endura from Germany and MTN Qhubeka from South Africa.

There will be quite some interesting competition from the likes of Alberto Contador, Joaquim Rodriguez, Chris Froome and last year’s winner Vincenzo Nibali for the blue jersey. Mark Cavendish, Andre Greipel, Peter Sagan, Fabian Cancellara, Taylor Phinney are amongst the several names that can win a stage or two in here.


Paris-Nice – A Brief History


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.