Toughest route for years with three uphill finishes
The Tirreno-Adriatico route for 2017 includes three uphill finishes for the seven-stage race, plus two time trials.
The basic structure of the race will remain the same as it has done since 2011, with a selection of five flat and hilly road stages in the middle, bookended by a team time trial at the start, and an individual time trial at the end.
The race kicks off on March 8 with a team time trial around Lido di Camaiore on the same relatively simple 22.7km course that saw BMC Racing take victory in 2016, setting Greg Van Avermaet up for overall victory.
From there the race heads southwards, down Italy’s western Tyrrhenian coast with two road stages, the first of which is a long 228km stage should see a GC shake up thanks to two testing climbs in the final 25km and an uphill finish into Pomarance.
The third stage is again over 200km with a couple of sizeable climbs in the middle of the stage, but a finish for the sprinters in Montalto di Castro.
Stage four is the queen stage of the Tirreno-Adriatico route, running inland from Montalto di Castro towards the stage finish at Terminillo in the Apennine mountains.
The final climb is over 16km long, which will make it the longest climb of the year at that point in the season, with an average gradient of over seven per cent, and some sections rising into double digit gradients.
The following stage will pass through an area of Italy that was devastated by earthquakes in August and October, and has been called the “Muri stage” by race organisers, with numerous short and steep climbs scattering the final third of the stage, including a uphill finish into the hilltop town of Fermo.
The sixth stage sees a final chance for the sprinters to pick up a win, with a flat finish in the town of Civitanova Marcha on the Adriatic coast.
March 14 sees the conclusion of the race with the traditional 10.1km individual time trial at San Benedetto del Tronto.
Speaking at the route announcement, Race Director Stefano Allocchio said how he saw no point in changing a winning race formula.
“The formula we have proposed has been successful and gives the opportunity to all riders to better express their characteristics and, at the end of the seven stages, to crown a complete athlete at the highest level.”
The start list will not be announced for a couple of months, but Team Sky are expected to send a strong team, perhaps including Chris Froome to challenge Movistar’s Nairo Quintana who won the race in 2015 and finished second the year before.
Daniele Bennati has made the move from Tinkoff to Movistar in 2017, and explained not only how he’s look to take his own opportunities in the race, but also how it might suit his Colombian team leader.
“This is a race that both me and my fellow pro riders like a lot because it allows everyone to compete at their best.
“I will focus on sprint stages and I really like the individual time trial too where I have come second in the past.
“I will also support my team for the GC victory, working for my team captain who could be Nairo Quintana.”