Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Tirreno-Adriatico - What We Learned

Italy’s Tirreno-Adriatico wrapped-up yesterday with Sky’s Edvald Boasson Hagen sprinting to the stage win ahead of Alessandro Petacchi and Sacha Modolo. Let’s take a minute or two to discuss what we learned during the “Race of the Two Seas”.

1. Tom Boonen’s ready to win Milan-San Remo. Judging from his win in Stage 2 and a day spent on the attack in Stage 6, Tom Boonen’s sights seem squarely set on a victory in Saturday’s Milan-San Remo. With a team dedicated to his success, another Monument win seems to be a very real possibility for the Belgian Champion.

2. Astana’s not a one-trick pony. While all eyes were on Alberto Contador’s battle with Caisse d’Epargne in France, the rest of his team was quietly turning heads in Italy. Maxim Iglinksy started the ball rolling with a fantastic win in L’Eroica on the Saturday before Tirreno and Enrico Gasparotto took a win in similar fashion in Tirreno’s Stage 5. Furthermore, there was always an Astana rider in the breakaway as they were clearly one of the most aggressive teams to take part. At this point, it’s easy to see why some are quietly wondering if the departure of Armstrong and Co. was a good thing for the team.

3. The jury’s still out on BMC for the cobbled classics. Cadel Evans aggressively raced to a 3rd-place finish, almost winning a stage in the process. Aside from that, there wasn’t much to write home about from BMC. Hincapie claims his form is improving, while Burghardt spent the day in the break on Stage 6, ultimately being one of the last men to be caught. And Alessandro Ballan? Well, there’s not much to say there. Overall, while there were no signs of regression—no sickness or crashes laid claim to any of BMC’s top guns—there was nothing to indicate continued progress toward the team’s northern goals.

4. Fabian Cancellara and his Saxo Bank team were notably absent from the proceedings. This is either really good or really bad for Spartacus’ competitors come the cobbled classics. He and Ballan are two riders hoping for a return to winning form in time for Flanders and Roubaix—here’s hoping their quiet week in Italy is a sign of bigger things to come.

5. It’s not over ‘til the bald Italian sings. Credit Stefano Garzelli and his team for continuing the race for the overall title through the final day. One can only wonder what would happen if two riders were to head into the Tour’s final stage with mere seconds between them—would we see something resembling the last stage at Tirreno?

6. And speaking of Garzelli and good form, it looks like Pavé is coming into form as well—if I may say so myself. Allow me to quote from our Tirreno-Adriatico Preview:

“And let’s not forget the Italians hoping to score a stage or two in front of their home crowds, men like Giovanni Visconti, Stefano Garzelli, and last year’s winner Michele Scarponi come to mind. Here’s where you might find an overall favorite or two, as they’re fast enough to finish near the front in a sprint, while aggressive and lithe enough to perhaps steal time on hillier days. Scarponi won the race last year; he’ll be extra-motivated to defend to his title.”

Obvious choices? Perhaps—but it still feels good to be right every once in a while.

Although I’ve probably just jinxed myself for the rest of the season.

What about you? What did you take away from this year’s Tirreno-Adriatico? Share your thoughts below.

1 comment:

  1. It is definitely time for the annual talk-up of GH's chances in the classics. He hasn't factored in a race since, what, the 2005 TdF when he won a stage b/c Lance was in yellow and he didn't have to work in the break. You might count the stage last year when he could have had yellow, but he went for the stage win.

    This year presents an interesting mix of young and experienced talent vying for wins. After all, the dark horses typically make these races even more interesting when they give the big names a run for their money.


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