Alberto Contador put the cycling world on notice with a dominant display in the mountains this week to win the ‘Race of the Two Seas’. Adriano Malori (Movistar) won the concluding stage of the Tirreno Adriatico, a flat 9.1km race against the clock which finished on the palm tree-lined seafront of San Benedetto del Tronto.
Malori completed the course in a winning time of 10min 13sec, surprising many in beating former world time trial champion Fabian Cancellara (Trek Factory Racing) second by six seconds and Bradley Wiggins (Sky) in third by 11sec.
However all eyes were on Contador, who recently finished second overall at the Volta ao Algarve. The Spanish mountain goat, famed for ‘dancing on the pedals’, took the overall lead after an impressive ride on stage five when he launched an attack in the final 30km, caught an earlier escape group and then beat his stage rivals to win atop the outrageously steep ‘Muro di Guardiagrele’.
His performance left overnight leader Michal Kwiatkowski (Omega Pharma-QuickStep) trailing home six minutes behind and gave Contador a 2min 08sec lead on Movistar’s Nairo Quintana.
The 31-year-old Spaniard protected his lead on the sixth stage, won by sprinter Mark Cavendish (Omega Pharma-QuickStep), and lost only three seconds to Quintana on the time trial to claim his first major stage race since the Vuelta a Espana in 2012.
Stage sevens TT saw former Italian time trial champion Malori set a blistering time which was was too good for the powerhouse trio of Cancellara, Wiggins and world time trial champion, Tony Martin (Omega Pharma-QuickStep).
[quote_center]”Looking at the classification, it almost feels like a dream to win in front of the best specialists in the world.” said Malori. “I can’t still believe myself. It’s a reward to the efforts made for so many years. I just hope to follow this path from now on.”[/quote_center]
Tirreno-Adriatio is one of two major races, along with Paris-Nice, which finished on Sunday, in which many riders use to hone their form for Milan-SanRemo and May’s Giro d’Italia.
The first major classic of the season will be held on Sunday but, after organisers altered the course by removing a key climb, the Pompeiana, it is expected to suit the sprinters this year.
Contador’s bid was arguably boosted by the retirement from the race of Sky’s Richie Porte, a pre-race contender, who pulled out prior to stage five due to illness.
Porte’s Australian compatriot, former Tour de France winner Cadel Evans, did not have a strong race and pulled out prior to the time trial in order to return home and prepare for the Giro d’Italia which begins on 9 May.
Stage 7: 9.1km ITT, San Benedetto del Tronto
1 Adriano Malori (ITA) Movistar 10min 13sec
2 Fabian Cancellara (SUI) Trek Factory Racing 0:00:06
3 Bradley Wiggins (GBR) Sky 0:00:11
4 Tony Martin (GER) Omega Pharma-QuickStep 0:00:15
5 Tom Dumoulin (NED) Giant-Shimano 0:00:19
6 Alex Dowsett (GBR) Movistar 0:00:20
7 Michal Kwiatkowski (POL) Omega Pharma-QuickStep 0:00:22
8 Manuel Quinziato (ITA) BMC 0:00:23
9 Stijn Devolder (BEL) Trek Factory Racing 0:00:24
10 Luke Durbridge (AUS) Orica-GreenEDGE 0:00:26
1 Alberto Contador (ESP) Tinkoff-Saxo 25hr 28min 45sec
2 Nairo Quintana (COL) Movistar 0:02:05
3 Roman Kreuziger (CZE) Tinkoff-Saxo 0:02:14
4 Jean-Christophe Peraud (FRA) AG2R 0:02:39
5 Julian Arredondo (COL) Trek Factory Racing 0:02:54
6 Domenico Pozzovivo (ITA) AG2R 0:03:04
7 Robert Kiserlovski (CRO) Trek Factory Racing 0:03:09
8 Daniel Moreno (ESP) Katusha 0:03:16
9 Michele Scarponi (ITA) Astana
10 Mikel Nieve (ESP) Sky 0:03:19