What can we take away from Nairo Quintana's dominant victory?
Nairo Quintana looks in ominous form for the Giro
The ease with which he rode away from his rivals on Monte Terminillo was highly impressive, also barely looking as if he was putting in any effort when he attacked (this time unsuccessfully) on the 22 per cent gradient of the road into Fermo on stage five.
Quintana says that he’s not in top form, and although he’s Giro rivals won’t be in top shape either, they have a lot of catching up to do before May.
The only thing that remains unknown is Quintana’s time trialling form, which will be crucial given the nearly 70km of time trialling in this year’s Giro, with the Movistar man not being tested in the final Tirreno-Adriatico test against the clock.
Vincenzo Nibali has a lot of catching up to do
One man conspicuous in his absence from the pointy end of the Tirreno-Adriatico action was Vincenzo Nibali.
Nibali lost nearly two minutes on the race’s queen stage, eventually finishing in an anonymous 28th place, with his only appearances on camera being as the Italian producers cut to him sliding out of the back of the peloton.
On the previous two times that he won the Giro, Nibali has finished first and sixth in that year’s Tirreno (with the sixth place coming last year when the toughest stage was cancelled), so this performance doesn’t bode well.
Geraint Thomas looks like Team Sky’s sole Giro leader
Back in January, Team Sky announced that Geraint Thomas would head to the Giro d’Italia as co-leader with Mikel Landa, but after the last week, Thomas could well make a case for being the team’s sole leader.
The disaster of Gianni Moscon’s collapsed wheel in the opening team time trial put both men out of contention, but while Landa continued to fall down the overall standings (eventually finishing in 31st), Thomas continued to fight.
His win on stage two would have been enough to rescue the race for Sky, but he then showed he had the climbing legs to finish second on stage four’s summit finish, and was also the first to follow Quintana’s late acceleration on stage five.
Of course a lot can change between now and May, but Landa may have to up his game at the Volta a Catalunya and the Tour of the Alps if he is to head into the race on an equal standing with Thomas.
Peter Sagan and Fernando Gaviria the stand-out favourites for Milan-San Remo
These two men are the bookies’ favourites for La Primavera, and both produced the goods on what was effectively a mini-Milan-San Remo finish, with a climb a few kilometres before a flat run-in to the finish.
Of course the stage wasn’t as long as Milan-San Remo, and the climb wasn’t as long as the Poggio, but with Mark Cavendish among those dropped in the final kilometres, Sagan and Gaviria have confirmed themselves as the two big names to watch.
Mountains do not always mean excitement
Although it was crucial to the final result of the race, Tirreno-Adriatico’s only summit finish on stage four did not exactly produce exciting racing.
It might have been great if you’re a Nairo Quintana fan, but it wasn’t exactly a thrilling spectacle to see the outstanding race favourite simply ride away from everyone else.
What’s more, that result put Quintana out of sight in the overall standings with nearly half the race still to go, meaning no chance of ambushes on the tricky, lumpy stage five to Fermo, and not even any suspense for the final 10km time trial.