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Wednesday 13 March, the 54th edition of Tirreno-Adriatico will kick off in Lido di Camaiore, a village situated along the Tuscan coast. The Italian WorldTour race starts with a team time trial and ends seven days later with an individual test against the clock in San Benedetto del Tronto. As the ‘Race of the Two Seas’ will not head into the high mountains, it promises to be an exciting and open battle for the trident trophy between the time trialists, puncheurs and one-day specialists. Last year, Belgian Lotto Soudal rider Tiesj Benoot finished fourth in the overall standings of Tirreno-Adriatico. Bart Leysen, sports director at Lotto Soudal, previews the course and discusses the team goals this year.
Bart Leysen, sports director Lotto Soudal: “There is no real mountain stage and not even a mountain finish in this year’s Tirreno. That way, the Classics specialists with good climbing abilities can not only compete for stage wins, they also have a shot at the overall win. The top contenders for the Grand Tours certainly won’t have the advantage this year. At Lotto Soudal, we have with Tiesj Benoot and Tim Wellens two cards to play.”
“I expect that five of the seven stages will be important for the general classification. Only the two relatively flat stages won’t play a key role. The team time trial and the individual mission against the clock are part of those five crucial days. Given that in stage races such as Tirreno the GC is decided with a handful of seconds, the team time trial on the very first day will already be of crucial importance. Last year – when we finished sixteenth – was a disappointment for us. The composition of our team this year should allow us to aim higher so that we can start the Tirreno with our two leaders on a good note. The closing time trial – the specialty of Victor Campenaerts – will be an important last hurdle in the overall battle.”
“It is more than likely that a heavily reduced group will go for the victory during the three hilly stages. It will mainly be about bringing Tiesj Benoot and Tim Wellens – who already demonstrated to be really strong finishers – in the best way possible to the line. Last year, Tiesj finished fourth in the general classification and in the past, the Belgian also proved that he can manage tough finales really well. In this year’s edition of Tirreno-Adriatico, every second will count. We constantly need to be attentive to avoid losing precious seconds due to possible splits in the peloton.”
Line-up Lotto Soudal: Tiesj Benoot, Victor Campenaerts, Carl Fredrik Hagen, Jens Keukeleire, Tomasz Marczyński, Tosh Van der Sande and Tim Wellens.
Sports directors: Bart Leysen and Kevin De Weert.
Stage 1 Wednesday 13 March: Lido di Camaiore – Lido di Camaiore (TTT – 21.5 km)
Stage 2 Thursday 14 March: Camaiore – Pomarance (195 km)
Stage 3 Friday 15 March: Pomarance – Foligno (226 km)
Stage 4 Saturday 16 March: Foligno – Fossombrone (221 km)
Stage 5 Sunday 17 March: Colli Al Metauro – Recanati (180 km)
Stage 6 Monday 18 March: Matelica – Jesi (195 km)
Stage 7 Tuesday 19 March: San Benedetto del Tronto – San Benedetto del Tronto (ITT – 10.1 km)
"Classics specialists with good climbing abilities can not only compete for stage wins, they also have a shot at the overall win."