Preview: Tirreno-Adriatico

Tirreno-Adriatico gets underway on Wednesday and, excitingly, sees a return to racing for Mark Cavendish for our team.

The Race of the Two Seas has become an important event as riders use the opportunity to find form ahead of Milan-San Remo in mid-March and this year sees a very strong field on the start line.

Cavendish returns to racing following his crash in Abu Dhabi that saw him suffer a concussion and spend time off the bike on medical advice.

Our African team features a strong supporting cast for the Manxman in the likes of Bernhard Eisel, Mark Renshaw, Julien Vermote and Scott Thwaites. While another man whose season is slowly building after injury is Edvald Boasson Hagen and whose pedigree makes him a major danger to his rivals. He finished 30th in this race last year.

Vermote has started the year strongly featuring at the ‘opening weekend’ in his native Belgium narrowly missing out on a victory at Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne where he was reeled in by the bunch just under 100m from the finish line.

Our line-up is completed by Louis Meintjes who continues to build into his season. This race, and our line-up, provide the man from Rustenburg with adequate firepower to hopefully challenge on the overall General Classification.

The seven-stage event is bookended by time trials; the team event over 21.5kms opens the race and the final individual stage is a fast 10km effort won by Rohan Dennis in 2017.

Stage two is an opportunity for the sprinters; over 172km from Montemagno to Follinica which will allow for the likes of Cavendish to gauge what sort of condition he’s in as he makes his return.

After a tough stage three the uphill finish at Sarnano Sassotetto lies in wait in the 4th. A final climb of 1335m on a day of 219km of racing and could ultimately decide who wins the overall GC.

Stage 5 is known as the “Muri” (Wall); a series of short, steep climbs and within 5kms of the finish the the Muro di Filottrano (up to 15%) is memorable and will be emotional too as the race visits the home of Michele Scarponi who tragically died last year.

The penultimate stage sees the sprinters come back into the mix over 153km with a fast, flat finish in Fano that will thrust the Cavendish lead-out train, hopefully again in this race, firmly into focus.

The race is completed with an individual time trial in the beautiful San Benedetto del Tronto on the Adriatic.

Mark Cavendish – Rider

“I’m looking forward to getting back together with Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka at Tirreno-Adriatico. Unfortunately my form isn’t going to be what I’d hoped after my week off the bike, following my concussion but we go with intentions of building that form back up, ready for the Classics. There are two sprint opportunities for myself and it’ll be nice to race with my new teammate Louis Meintjes, and see what we can do with him in the mountain days in the overall race.”

Team Lineup:
Mark Cavendish
Louis Meintjes
Edvald Boasson Hagen
Bernie Eisel
Mark Renshaw
Julien Vermote
Scott Thwaites