Chris Froome (Sky) continues the process of testing himself ahead of the Tour de France. Today, he started the Italian stage race Tirreno-Adriatico in the damp costal town of San Vincenzo.
"Supposedly the weather is better in Tirreno-Adriatico," Froome said in a pre-race conference yesterday.
"With the mountain-top finishes here and with the other contenders coming here, I figured this would be a better race. I could get more out of it than Paris-Nice."
Richie Porte leads Sky in France and Brad Wiggins trains at altitude in Tenerife. The two both helped Froome and Sky score stage race win number one in Oman last month.
Froome arrived in Tuscany to make sure he is on track for July and, if possible, win.
"I saw in Oman that always nice coming away with an upper hand, that you got one over [the rivals], but that will also send them away thinking about how they can beat you," Froome explained. "I'd rather be on the upper end of that, but either way, I'm not making the be all and end of how the race goes. I know it's all part of the bigger picture."
After he won in Oman, comparisons were draw to his approach to the Tour and Wiggins' last year. Wiggins won three stage races - Paris-Nice, Romandy and Dauphiné.
Froome said that he does not have to go on a winning rampage in Tirreno or other pre-Tour races.
"There's a lot of people drawing comparisons to how Brad started his season last year and how I've started this year, and maybe aligning those two, but for me it's not about that all," Froome added.
"I'm here to just test myself and test my training. If I win here, fantastic, I'm on track. If I don't win, I'll still feel I'm on track and I'm heading the right direction. The ultimate goal is the Tour and everything I do until then is just part of that process. This is just another opportunity to be in that leadership position and to test myself against guys like Alberto Contador, Joaquím Rodríguez, Cadel Evans and Nibali, even if he won't be at the Tour."
The Tirreno-Adriatico cuts through central Italy, from the Tyrrhenian to the Adriatic Sea. It features two time trials, a team one today and an individual one on the last day. The next two days are likely sprints and the other three are hard mountain runs, with Prati di Tivo highlighting the week. The road climbs up to 1450 metres views of Grand Sasso d'Italia.
"[Prati di Tivo] is going to be the decisive day, the day after that, there's a small mountain top finish to Chieti that can be tricky, but the majority is going to be on that Prati day," Froome said.
Froome moved into control in Oman the day the race finished on the side of Green Mountain. He controlled his adversaries, including a rather aggressive Alberto Contador (Saxo-Tinkoff), and won the stage on the next day. The final stage was a bit of a parade into Muscat.
The weather is worse in Italy. There are also time trials this time around.
"It's a very short team TT [16.9km] and a short individual TT [9.2km], so it doesn't have too much bearings on the race, but having said that, it still could mean a few seconds here or there. Either way, it's always good preparations to do a good time trial."
Tirreno-Adriatico 2013 coverage index
Matt Goss building towards Milan-San Remo assault
Tirreno-Adriatico 2013: Who will win?
No Tirreno or Paris-Nice for Sky's Classics riders
: Race preview and information
Tirreno-Adriatico 2013: Start list
Tirreno-Adriatico 2013: Who will win?
Tirreno-Adriatico 2013: The Big Preview
: Stage reports
Stage one: Mark Cavendish leads Tirreno with team time trial win
: Photo galleries
Stage one TTT photo gallery
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