Just six weeks out from the Giro d’Italia’s Grande Partenza in Ireland, GC riders are starting to focus on the the maglia rosa. With all of the top contenders in action this week, those that aren’t already racing in Paris Nice will line up tonight in Italy’s Tirreno Adriatico.
Dubbed the mini Giro, the 2014 edition is looking more open than ever. With Chris Froome’s last minute departure last weekend and Vincenzo Nibali’s decision to race in France, an Aussie favourite, Richie Porte has his sights set on glory.
The race boasts a formidable line-up with former Tour winners Cadel Evans and Alberto Contador lining up alongside Bradley Wiggins, who is expected to play super-domestique to Richie Porte. Richie has been handed the lead riders role in this years Giro and is using the Tirreno as preparation for the year’s first grand tour.
Following the withdrawl of Froome due to a back complaint and faced with the choice of an unlikely title defence on terrain unsuited to him, or a Giro d’Italia dry run at Tirreno-Adriatico, it’s far from surprsing that Team Sky opted to pursue the latter course with maglia rosa hopeful Richie Porte.
[quote_box_center]“Look, racing in Italy, that’s where my big goal this year is, at the Giro. It really does make more sense to be going to Tirreno” Said Richie in a recent interview.[/quote_box_center]
This years Tirreno, has an opening team time trial in San Vincenzo. As the race continues there will be consecutive mountain days on Stages 4 and 5, before the race’s final time trial in San Benedetto del Tronto on Stage 7. The Tirreno has far more of a Grand Tour feel to it, and is far more suited to Porte.
Colombia’s Tour runner-up Nairo Quintana, Spain’s Joaquim Rodriguez, American Tour of Spain champion Chris Horner, plus former Giro winners Ivan Basso, Damiano Cunego and Michele Scarponi, will ensure the racing is fierce. It’s bound to be a fascinating race and full of surprises. Best of luck to both Richie and Cadel in what promises to be an absolute cracker!