Today marks the start of one of the best little spring races around, the Tirreno-Adriatico. This short stage race is relatively new, and while Spanish stage races of the season are facing extinction due to lack of sponsorship, the T-A is garnering more and more attention.
Last year, Cadel Evans won the race and went on to politely win the Tour de France. As a result, some teams opted to split squads, as it were, and send a strong contingent to both Paris-Nice and T-A. For some teams, like GreenEdge, the A team was assembled to T-A, built around sprinter Matty Goss, with some of the teams’ climbers like Simon Gerrans, sent north to Paris. Goss has a solid compliment of leadout men that may be enough to take some sprint wins, but GreenEdge is already taking the race by the nose. Today, GreenEdge won the team time trial over some great specialists, including the Fabian Cancellara and his RadioShack squad. Garmin-Barracuda, the winners of last year’s TTT at the Tour, were heavy favorites but had to settle for third, just behind RadioShack and given the same deficit of 17 seconds.
For GreenEdge, the next target comes immediately tomorrow, with the race’s first sprint stage that likely suits the race leader, Matt Goss. Team SKY has been impressive in the early season and should figure to play a large roll in tomorrow’s sprint. Last year, the top five riders overall finished within 30 seconds of each other, making GreenEdge’s 17 second victory today even more important with some time bonuses on the road and at the line tomorrow.
The overall favorites are all still in the hunt, including BMC’s trio of Evans, Gilbert and Ballan. It may be Cameron Meyer for GreenEdge as the overall contender, but the GC boys, including Garmin’s David Millar and Astana’s Roman Kreuziger will have the climbing ability to eliminate an awful lot of other riders. For the sprint stages, Goss’ main rival will be his former teammate and current World Champion, Mark Cavendish, who won Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne by simply pedaling away from everyone in the last 275 meters, while his team ushered him along without incident.