Sunday, March 10, 2013

Tirreno-Adriatico: Stage 6 Preview

Chris Froome is the new race leader and it will require something extra from the other favorites to rip the blue jersey of his shoulders. On paper, this may not look like a difficult stage, but I can assure you it is. The two loops of 90 km and one of 28 km around Porto Sant'Elpidio take the riders on a real rollercoaster ride. It’s up and down all day and when it’s up, it’s steep! The climbs aren’t very long but they all have gradients of 10% all the way up to 27%.

Team Sky say they are expecting attacks from everyone on this stage and I would be surprised if not. It will be extremely difficult - even for Team Sky - to control the peloton on these steep hills and the technical descents and narrow roads provide excellent opportunities for riders to attack. The last loop of 28 km includes two small and steep climbs with the top of the last one just 10 km from the line. It’s followed by a very technical descent and only the last 4 km towards the line are really flat. There is a tricky left-right curve with about 1800 meters to go before the final 1500 meters straight out on 7,5 meters wide road.

The Santa Lucia climb is the last
struggle before the finishing line.
I think Team Sky would be happy to let a break get away in the morning and stay away too. Froome doesn’t want any of his competitors to get the 10 bonus seconds on the line so if a break could fight it out between them, Sky would be happy. Still, that doesn’t mean the favorites won’t give a go - especially on the last loop. Sant'Elpidio a Mare is 6,3 km in total - including a 1,5 km descent in the middle - but the last 400 meters have an average gradient of 20% - last 50 meters up to 27%. There is only 6 km from the top of Sant'Elpidio a Mare to the next climb, Santa Lucia, starts. The climb itself is only 1,5 km but has an average gradient of 8,2% and 16% towards the top.

Alberto Contador and Vincenzo Nibali both need to take back 20 seconds on Chris Froome and you can be sure they both want to try on these climbs. Nibali is one of the best riders on the downhill sections and even if he doesn’t manage to drop Froome uphill, he will probably try again downhill.

Astana and Saxo-Tinkoff would like to keep this together and fight for the stage win and the bonus seconds, but it won’t be easy. It’s the last chance for most of the riders to get a result and the expected rain won’t help controlling it either. Strong riders with a fast finish like Tom-Jelte Slagter, Eros Capecchi, Giovanni Visconti, Moreno Moser, Lars Boom and Greg Van Avermaet are all out of the GC and I would expect a couple of these to make it into a winning break. And don’t forget Peter Sagan. He doesn’t seem to be 100% again after his sickness but he’s also a rider capable of winning even when he’s just on 80 or 90%.

I’ve already picked Moreno Moser as my joker twice during this TIrreno-Adriatico and I’ll give him one last chance. You can’t really talk about a favorite for a stage like this one, but of course if Peter Sagan is the man to beat, should he be in the front group in the final. Sunday Tom-Jelte Slagter had to let go of his overall lead in the World Tour standing and I think he is eager to take it back from Richie Porte. He is fast on the line and good on these kind of hills too. Bauke Mollema showed the way for Blanco when he took second place after Purito in Chieti and Slagter could top that one in Porto Sant'Elpidio.

And no; I don’t think the sprinters will be able to stay in front when the GC is this close and the climbs are this steep.

Winnerpicks: Tom-Jelte Slagter & Moreno Moser

For live coverage of the stage check out steephill.


  1. i think alberto will be pulling out all the stops. roman K will have to lift his game to help ole el pistolero. vroom vroom froome will be a tuff nut to crack. the race will be between the top three in gc. i think cadel days are behind him now,all he has to do is carry water for tee jay.

  2. This looks like a very very hard stage to me, difficult to defend tactically, anything could happen. I'm expecting lots of small breaks, crashes, everyone is a bit tired from five days racing, the repetitive small climbs will kill the riders' rhythm, the weather doesn't look too good either. This would be a good stage for Samuel Sanchez and Cadel Evans, they seemed tired yesterday but they might be saving something for today. On the other hand I wouldn't be surprised to see Nibali risk everything for a few seconds, with Kwiatkowski only 4 secs back on GC he needs a bigger buffer ahead of tomorrows ITT to secure his podium place.

  3. Thanks for the great stage summary. Now with it over, how astute your comments about possible winners, as well as Samuel's above. It was a bit of a surprise -- though good -- to see Cadel finish well today after he said he's just not in form and will take the rest of the race as training. Talk about an epic day.