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39th Tirreno - Adriatico - 2.HC
Italy, March 10-16, 2004
No fewer than six current and former world champions will line up today in Sabaudia for the 39th edition of Italy's first major stage race of the season, Tirreno-Adriatico. Known as the 'race of the two seas' because it crosses southern Italy from the Mediterranean coast to San Benedetto del Tronto on the Adriatic, Tirreno-Adriatico is arguably Italy's most prestigious stage race after the Giro and an important indicator of form for Milan - San Remo (March 20), the Classic every Italian wants on his palmares.
As well as the rainbow club of Johan Museeuw (Quick.Step-Davitamon), Oskar Camenzind (Phonak), Oscar Freire (Rabobank), Romans Vainstains (Lampre), Mario Cipollini (Domina Vacanze) and Igor Astarloa (Cofidis), the race will be livened-up by some hard-fought showdowns between the contenders.
Last year's winner Filippo Pozzato (Fassa Bortolo) and and runner-up Danilo Di Luca (Saeco) will be back for a rematch. Both are in excellent shape; Pozatto has won a stage of the Giro della Liguria and the Trofeo Laigueglia while Di Luca took the difficult penultimate stage of the Vuelta a Murcia last week.
Away from the GC contest, Tirreno Adriatico will also see the next round in the battle for Italian sprint supremacy between Mario Cipollini (Domina Vacanze) and Alessandro Petacchi. Petacchi has had the stronger start to the year, winning the first two stages of the Giro della Provincia di Lucca, while Cipollini has a stage of the Tour Méditerranéen to his name.
Cipollini says his slow start to the season has been due to health problems. "I have had flu," he told Datasport, "and am not looking for victories straight away. I am planning to look after my health and build my confidence for Milan-San Remo." As for his younger rival, Cipollini said, "Petacchi? He is the strongest one for now, it's fair to admit. To beat him will be the umpteenth 'bet to win' of my career."
As well as Italian riders looking to shine on home roads, Tirreno-Adriatico will see sprinters Erik Zabel, and Oscar Friere in the mix, plus top all-rounders such as Igor Astarloa and Paolo Bettini, who will be looking to move back into the prominent roles they occupied last year, with Bettini in particular planning to repeat his World Cup series victory - Tirreno-Adriatico will provide important preparation for the first World Cup, Milan - San Remo.
March 2: 39th Tirreno-Adriatico presented
Tirreno-Adriatico, the "race of the two seas", was presented today in the town hall of Sabaudia. The 39th edition of the week long Italian hors categorie stage race takes place between March 10-16, overlapping with Paris-Nice. Starting with a 172 km stage in Sabaudia on the Mediterranean coast, the riders travel across Italy, eventually finishing in San Benedetto Del Tronto on the Adriatic coast. While being quite prestigious in its own right, the race is also considered an important lead up to Milan-San Remo on March 20.
Last year, Paolo Bettini was headed for victory until he was caught up in a crash in the second last stage. Filippo Pozzato ended up winning the race, but Bettini bounced back a few days later to win Milan-San Remo, the first of three World Cup victories for Il Grillo last year.
The first stage around Sabaudia should be one for the sprinters, as the day's only uphill difficulty, the Sezze Scalo, comes after 57 km. Stage 2 heads south from Latina to Maddaloni over a flat 164 km route. The third stage from Maddaloni to Isernia is undulating and includes the Valico del Macerone climb after 127 km. The final three kilometres are gradually uphill.
Stage 4 between Isernia and Paglieta is also quite hilly, and includes the Valico di Rionero Sannitico (1057m) after 59 km and a 3.7 km climb to the finish, averaging 6.4%. This will certainly be important for the final classification and will be followed by the longest stage, 215 km between Paglieta and Torricella Sicura. This stage features the climb of Crognaleto after 144 km, as well as some small climbs on the finishing circuit, which will be done twice.
Stage 6 is a tough circuit race starting from Monte San Pietrangeli and finishing in Torre San Patrizio. Four 43.8 km circuits are on the menu, each one featuring three 200m climbs, some of which are quite steep. The finish is slightly uphill. The last stage around S.Benedetto Del Tronto starts with a 108 km loop and finishes with six laps of a flat 9 km circuit, and should suit the sprinters.
Stage 1 - March 10: Sabaudia - Sabaudia, 172 km
Total km: 1245
2003 Filippo Pozzato (Ita) Fassa Bortolo 2002 Erik Dekker (Ned) Rabobank 2001 Davide Rebellin (Ita) Liquigas 2000 Abraham Olano (Spa) ONCE-Deutsche Bank 1999 Michele Bartoli (Ita) Mapei 1998 Rolf Jaermann (Swi) Casino 1997 Roberto Petito (Ita) 1996 Francesco Casagrande (Ita) 1995 Stefano Colage (Ita) 1994 Giorgio Furlan (Ita) 1993 Maurizio Fondriest (Ita) 1992 Rolf Sörensen (Den) 1991 Herminio Diaz-Zabala (Spa) 1990 Tony Rominger (Swi) 1989 Tony Rominger (Swi) 1988 Erich Maechler (Swi) 1987 Rolf Sörensen (Den) 1986 Luciano Rabottoni (Ita) 1985 Joop Zoetemelk (Ned) 1984 Tommy Prim (Swe) 1983 Roberto Visentini (Ita) 1982 Giuseppe Saronni (Ita) 1981 Francesco Moser (Ita) 1980 Francesco Moser (Ita) 1979 Knut Knudsen (Nor) 1978 Giuseppe Saronni (Ita) 1977 Roger De Vlaeminck (Bel) 1976 Roger De Vlaeminck (Bel) 1975 Roger De Vlaeminck (Bel) 1974 Roger De Vlaeminck (Bel) 1973 Roger De Vlaeminck (Bel) 1972 Roger De Vlaeminck (Bel) 1971 Italo Zilioli (Ita) 1970 Antoine Houbrechts (Bel) 1969 Carlo Chiappano (Ita) 1968 Giovanni Micheletto (Ita) 1967 Franco Bitossi (Ita) 1966 Dino Zandegu (Ita) Past winners by Mario Stiehl, www.world-of-cycling.com