Primož Roglič and Wout van Aert will start their 2023 road season in Tirreno-Adriatico, with Jumbo-Visma sending a stacked team. Newly crowned Strade Bianche winner Tom Pidcock, Enric Mas, Adam Yates and many other great GC riders will make this “race of the two seas” exciting .
Provisional Start List
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The pancake flat and technically easy time-trial is made for a big engine like Filippo Ganna. Wout van Aert, Primož Roglič, Magnus Sheffield and Thymen Arensman might challenge the Italian beast, especially if he has another mid-TT mechanical. If Van Aert wants to fight for overall in Tirreno-Adriatico, Stage 1 is an excellent chance to take an early advantage over Adam Yates, Tom Pidcock, Enric Mas and the other GC contenders.
A sprint stage that includes a 1.3 km at 6% hill in the last 10 kilometres. This definitely will suit Wout van Aert and Jumbo-Visma have brought a good team – Tiesj Benoot, Attila Valter, Dylan van Baarle, Koen Bouwman, Wilco Kelderman and Primož Roglič. Do not be surprised to see Jumbo setting up a strong train for Van Aert and riding full-gas the final climb to make life more difficult for Fabio Jakobsen, Fernando Gaviria, Dylan Groenewegen, Mark Cavendish and other pure sprinters. Jasper Philipsen and Biniam Girmay can get over small hills and suit this stage but positioning going into the climb will be crucial. Jumbo-Visma already shattered the peloton on a 1km climb twice in 2022, Paris-Nice Stage 1 and Tour de France Stage 4, but this time the previous 10 kilometres before the final hill are fairly easy, which means it will be harder to completely destroy the peloton.
A 216.5-kilometre-long stage with a lot of climbing but a flat finale. The stage should be for sprinters but with fatigue in the legs, this will be a harder day than usual in a sprint stage for Jakobsen, Gaviria and Groenewegen. A strong breakaway that forms on the early climbs could make life very difficult for the peloton.
The first day when GC contenders will show their strength. 2503 metres of elevation gain, 217.4 kilometres and three climbs up Tortoreto (3.2 km, 6.9%) in the last hour will be hard. This would be a perfect finish for the 2020 Primož Roglič but it is impossible to know his shape or ambitions for this race and Van Aert is also on the start list. Tom Pidcock, Alexandr Vlasov, Adam Yates and Enric Mas should perform well on this stage. Victory Lafay finished 3rd on a similar finish in last year’s Tirreno behind Pogačar and Vingegaard.
The queen day with 3797 metres of elevation gain and the final climb up Sassotetto (13.1 km, 7.3%). With many hills before Sassotetto, it means the gaps might be even bigger as fatigue will play a big role. In contrast, the route before Prati di Tivo in 2021 was fairly easy and despite Pogačar doing huge watts, 12 riders finished within a minute on a 36-37 minute climb.
The perfect launching point is with 4-5 kilometres to go when the gradients are close to 10%. This will be a good test for Adam Yates, Enric Mas, Primož Roglič, Mikel Landa, Tom Pidcock, Wilco Kelderman and Jai Hindley. Van Aert performed well on Prati di Tivo and with those legs, he should not lose more than a minute if Kelderman and Roglič ride for him. Van Aert likely might be the race leader at this point and it will be curious to see Jumbo’s tactics which hopefully will be better than in Strade Bianche where Valter and Benoot could not sacrifice for each other to close a few-second gap to Pidcock.
In Tirreno-Adriatico 2020 Simon Yates did one of the best climbing performances in his career in preparation for the 2020 Giro. Yates did Sassotetto in 27:36 min with 6.51 ᵉw/kg. It will be hard to beat for the riders this year to beat this record as it is an extremely tough benchmark and would require a team to pace full gas from the base. In 2018 Landa, Majka and Bennett did the climb 2 minutes and 15 seconds slower.
The final chance for riders to make changes in the GC. A very hard route with 3526 metres of elevation gain across dozens of climbs will be a huge test for everyone. The riders will go up the Muro di Costa del Borgo climb (1.4 km, 12.9%) three times. Pidcock and Mas will look for this stage to take time on the other riders. Jumbo-Visma have brought a perfect team for this day but their tactics and supported leader will depend on the GC standings.
A stage that might end with a breakaway win as everyone will be fatigued from previous days like in the 2021 Tirreno-Adriatico Stage 6, which was won by Mads Würtz Schmidt from a small breakaway. Otherwise, a final chance for the sprinters who have persevered throughout the week.
The big question is what will be Primož Roglič’ role in Tirreno. This will be his first race of the season after it was initially thought that the Slovenian would only race Volta a Catalunya in preparation for the Giro d’Italia. Jumbo-Visma sports director Merijn Zeeman in a team statement said that Roglič worked hard and is ready to return to the peloton, however:
“Racing is the next step in the build-up to his goals. He will start without pressure or results in mind.”
It is hard to believe Roglič will just participate in Tirreno without ambitions for the overall win. Yes, he has already won this race and is building for the Giro d’Italia but this definitely must be a great chance to test his legs and not sacrifice everything for Van Aert. If Roglič has decided (seemingly) at the last minute to race in Tirreno, he must be in good shape. This reminds me of every time Roglič said he has bad legs before the race/stage and then on the final climb always did huge performances.
Van Aert’s big goal is Ronde van Vlaanderen and Paris-Roubaix. The goal of adding Tirreno-Adriatico’s title to his palmares, and the necessary shape and weight to achieve that, is in conflict with those big goals. He must win monuments in Spring, not another World Tour race to improve his legacy. The Belgian did not race in Omloop and Strade Bianche where he won previously. Due to illness, he skipped a few training days in February according to his Strava profile, but, after a small break, Van Aert did 71 hours of riding in 17 days. A huge volume of work in the training camp at Teide after the illness.
In 2021 Van Aert finished second in Tirreno behind Pogačar and finished 3rd in Milano-Sanremo and 6th in Ronde van Vlaanderen. Going for the overall title will take a huge load on his body and it is not worth the risk. Jumbo-Visma has sent a stacked team with Roglič and Wilco Kelderman. They can go for the GC with either of those riders. The betting market seems to agree that Roglič is more of a realistic threat for GC than Van Aert, with his odds in the markets dropping from around 6 to 4.5 in the lead up to the race. Van Aert is a Top 5 favourite only behind Vlasov, Yates, Roglič and Mas.
Adam Yates did his career best pure w/kg performance on Jebel Hafeet and is in great shape as he did an altitude camp before the UAE Tour. UAE-Emirates has sent Almeida, McNulty, Covi, Formolo, Bennett and Molano to Tirreno. An impressive supporting squad for the betting favourite Yates who has won one World Tour stage race in Europe, which was the 2021 Volta a Catalunya with INEOS sweeping the podium with Yates, Porte and Thomas. Roglič and Pogačar were not racing in Catalunya which made the job easier. Almeida also might have a good shot at podiuming the race.
Enric Mas has proved he is an elite rider on punchy stages and obviously climbs well on the longer mountains. He should not lose too much time in the short time-trial and showed good legs in Vuelta a Andalucia, losing only to Pogačar on punchy stages. Mas in pre-2022 seasons did not perform well in one-week stage races but it looks like he has changed and is in great shape also earlier in the season. Avoiding crashes is the most important factor for the Mallorquí.
Tom Pidcock after his win on Alto do Malhao in Algarve and an impressive solo win in Strade Bianche might have a good shot at winning this race if he goes all-in for it. Pidcock has proved he can climb well on longer climbs and will be a big threat on the hilly GC stages. Mikel Landa, Aleksandr Vlasov, Thymen Arensman, Jai Hindley, Ben O’Connor, Giuolio Ciccone and Santiago Buitrago will be other GC riders to look for.
I must admit it is hard to choose between Mas, Roglič and Pidcock. I believe Roglič will fight for overall and will want to test his “bad legs” against WorldTour competition. If I had information that Pidcock on Saturday evening did everything to recover as best as possible after his huge Strade Bianche win I would definitely pick him without any doubts. At the time of writing this preview in betting markets he is the 6th favourite and around @17.00 but his odds should definitely drop. I believe in Pidcock after his Alpe d’Huez and Alto do Malhao wins and Sa Calobra KOM. He is Him. I pick Tom.
Kārlis Ozols (@CyclingGraphs)