Best Stage Races of the Year 2019 -Tirreno-Adriatico

Paris-Nice or Tirreno-Adriatico? This is the big question in March every year. In 2019, I think, the Italian event delivered more memorable moments and tighter competition than the other one. Although the organizer decided not to put a classic queen stage with a big mountain in the program.

The traditional opening team time trial (21,5 km) was won by the Mitchelton-Scott, therefore Michael Hepburn wore the blue jersey on the next day. His team was working for Adam Yates’ GC-success, Hepburn was seen several times during the 2nd stage in d the service of his captain.

The finale of the 2nd stage was slightly ascending, not an ideal situation for the sprinters. After a couple of attacks by riders like Alexei Lutsenko (Astana) or Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma) a reduced main bunch arrived in the finish town, and the stage was won by Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck-Quick Step), meanwhile, Adam Yates gained the blue jersey.

Although the last few km of the 3rd stage was quite tricky and the trains of the sprinter teams couldn’t build up properly, there was a classic bunch finale at the end, won by Elia Vivani (Deceuninck-Quick Step).

The hilly 4th stage provided a lot of happenings. It was one of the 3 stages (the other two were the 5th and the 7th), where the GC-riders have to fight themselves for possible success. This stage proved, that the organizers were right, there isn’t necessary to ride big mountains to make a race exciting.

The real race started with the attack of Lutsenko at 35 km to go. A chasing group with Roglic, Yates, Alaphilippe and Tom Dumoulin (Team Sunweb) among others established soon, but it didn’t last long, when the race reached the finish line first (the route contained a total of 3 rounds around the finish town Fossombrone), a unified peloton was chasing Lutsenko again. The gap was around one minute.

The next decisive moment of the stage happened at 3 km when Roglic launched his attack, only Yates and Jakob Fuglsang (Astana) joined him, meanwhile, Lutsenko still rode his solo at the front of the race.  The gap was decreasing dramatically, Lutsenko might have been getting nervous and made some mistakes, crashed twice inside the last 12 km. The chasing trio has caught him at 600 m, but in the end he was able to launch his final move successfully and crossed the finish line first.

Astana was very successful at stage races that time of the year, no wonder that the protagonist of the 5th stage was one of their riders. Similar to the previous day, a hilly program again, which promised active racing by the GC-riders again.

Fuglsang launched his attack at 24 km to go, but also Alaphilipe had a couple of attempts, and Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain-Merida), Sam Oomen (Sunweb) and Rui Costa (UAE Team Emirates) have their moves too.

There were still riders of the original breakaway group out, but Fuglsang passed them, one after another, and rode the final 11 km solo at the front of the race. Meanwhile, GC-leader Yates launched his attack and only Roglic could respond to it. The Brit wanted to earn as many as a possible time against his main rival before the ITT on the final stage, but on the other han,d both of them had to pay attention to Fuglsang, who could be the 3rd serious contender in the fight for the blue jersey.

Fuglsang won the stage  Yates, who had a last attempt to distance from Roglic inside the final 2 km, gained 16 secs  (real time +time bonuses) on the Slovene.

The 6th stage was meant to be a day for the sprinters, but at the end won by a non-sprinter.

Bora-hansgrohe was setting the pace inside the final 10 km, they rode for the success of Peter Sagan. But also Deceuninck-Quick Step could build up their line, but Elia Viviani stuck in the middle of the bunch, meanwhile, nobody expected the Spanish Inquisition Julian  Alaphilippe, who crossed the finish line ahead of Davide Cimolai (Israel Cycling Academy). In the end even Viviani could reach the 3rd place.

No wonder, that Yates was worrying about the time gap between himself and Roglic. The 7th stage was a 10 km long ITT. As it turned out his 25-sec advantage before the stage wasn’t enough for the GC-victory, Roglic won the race with only a single second. The ITT was won by Victor Campenaerts (Lotto-Soudal).

Top 10

1 Primož Roglic (Slo) Team Jumbo – Visma 25:28:00
2 Adam Yates (GBr) Mitchelton – Scott 0:00:01
3 Jakob Fuglsang (Den) Astana Pro Team 0:00:30
4 Tom Dumoulin (Ned) Team Sunweb 0:01:25
5 Thibaut Pinot (Fra) Groupama – FDJ 0:02:32
6 Julian Alaphilippe (Fra) Deceuninck – Quick Step 0:02:34
7 Wout Poels (Ned) Team Sky 0:02:42
8 Simon Clarke (Aus) EF Education First 0:03:01
9 Sam Oomen (Ned) Team Sunweb 0:03:12
10 Rui Costa (Por) UAE Team Emirates 0:03:18

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