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40th Tirreno-Adriatico - PT

Italy, March 9-15, 2005

Sprinters galore in 40th Tirreno-Adriatico

By Jeff Jones

A sprinters' podium in 2004
Photo ©: Sirotti

The 40th edition of Tirreno-Adriatico gets under way in the Italian west coast town of Civitavecchia on Wednesday, March 9. Like Paris-Nice, Tirreno-Adriatico is a ProTour race and will therefore see the 20 top teams in cycling present, along with Ceramiche Panaria-Navigare, Naturino-Sapore Di Mare and Acqua & Sapone-Adria Mobil. The "race of the two seas" will be run over seven stages for a total of 1214 km, with no time trial stages this year.

As usual, the quality of the field is high, featuring most of the top riders who are targeting Milan-San Remo (Saturday, March 19). Paolo Bettini (Quick.Step) will be chief among these. The Olympic champion and winner of Tirreno-Adriatico last year will ride with the number one dossard. He will be up against Rabobank's World Champion sprinter Oscar Freire, who won Milan-San Remo last year. Michael Boogerd is Rabobank's alternative card in case Freire has problems.

The peloton is stacked with more good sprinters, including the in-form Mario Cipollini (Liquigas) and Alessandro Petacchi (Fassa Bortolo), Australian champion Robbie McEwen (Davitamon-Lotto), Discovery's Max van Heeswijk, Cofidis' Stuart O'Grady, Francaise Des Jeux's Bernhard Eisel, Domina Vacanze's Ivan Quaranta, Gerolsteiner's Danilo Hondo, and last but not least, Erik Zabel (T-Mobile), a four-time winner of Milan-San Remo and still capable of performing at the top level.

Other riders to watch include Ivan Basso (CSC), George Hincapie (Discovery), Pietro Caucchioli (Credit Agricole), Andreas Kloden (T-Mobile), Danilo Di Luca (Liquigas), Joseba Beloki (Liberty), Brad McGee (Francaise des Jeux) and Peter Van Petegem (Davitamon-Lotto).

At least three of the stages should suit the sprinters, but depending on how well the teams can control things, we could easily see more bunch finishes.