It was a day for the big GC riders at Tirreno-Adriatico today with Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo) coming away with the stage win. Contador was able to outsprint Nairo Quintana (Movistar) and Daniel Moreno (Katusha) in deciding the podium for the stage.
The days racing took the peloton over 240km Italian countryside with 3 GPM climbs in the final 100km’s. The long stage saw 6 riders attack the peloton and go clear inside the first 5km’s of the stage. Lloyd Mondory (AG2R La Mondiale), Matthais Brandle (IAM Cycling), Aleksey Lutsenko (Astana), Fillipo Fortin (Bardiani), Alexandre Pichot (Europcar) and Maxime Belkov (Katusha) were the riders on the attack.
With Sergio Pardilla out of the race with a broken hand, the Team MTN-Qhubeka p/b Samsung rider’s only option was to try to get into the break this morning. “We had 2 guys in a good 32 rider move that were chasing the 6 leaders but they were caught after a few kilometres, after that it was better to save our energy in the bunch,” said DS Jens Zemke.
Movistar were looking to set the stage up for their rider, Nairo Quintana, and took control of the chase once the leaders reached a 7 minute lead. As the kilometres ticked by, Fortin, Pichot and Belkov eventually dropped back to the peloton. Mondory crashed on a descent leaving just Lutsenko and Brandle out front. The escapees were eventually caught as the reduced peloton started the final 14km climb to the finish.
The GC riders came to the fore on the final climb. Romain Kreuziger (Tinkoff-Saxo) put in an early attack and looked very strong climbing the mountain in his big ring. With 1.5km to go the Czech rider sat up as his team leader was in a group of favourites just behind him. With 1km to go, 9 riders were left in contention for the stage win. Contador timed his sprint well as the rest of the riders could were left to follow in his wake.
Tomorrow’s stage should be another one for the GC riders although if a break did have a chance of succeeding at this edition of the Tirreno-Adriatico, stage 5 is probably its best bet. The 192km stage finishes at the top of the Muro Di Guardagrele, a 600m wall of a climb that has an average gradient of 22.2%.
Tirreno-Adriatico (Italy) – (March 12-18/WT)
Sergio Pardilla (ESP)
Gerald Ciolek (GER)
Andreas Stauff (GER)
Ignatas Konovalovas (LTU)
Jay Thomson (RSA)
Jaco Venter (RSA)
Daniel Teklehaimanot (ERI)
Kristian Sbaragli (ITA)
Staff: Jens Zemke (Sports Director), Manel Lacambra (Sports Director), Dr Jarrad van Zuydam (Doctor), Dr Rob Child (Doctor-Nutritionist), Bastian Buffel (Soigneur), Hagen Bernutz (Soigneur), Paolo Baldi (Soigneur) Jim Bryan (Mechanic), Daniele Nieri (Mechanic), Andreas Beck-Watt (Mechanic), Stevie Christaens (Mechanic)