SANTOS TOUR DOWN UNDER
Australia - 21/26.01.2020Website
At last year’s Tirreno-Adriatico, Adam Yates lost the Maglia Azzurra by just one second to Primož Roglič on the time trial in San Benedetto del Tronto. In 2020, his twin Simon went one better, managing the advantage over Geraint Thomas he gained on the decisive Sassotetto stage. Third position in the general classification went to the Pole Rafał Majka.
“I was really aware about last year, when Adam lost just by less than one second. I was a bit nervous at the start but I stayed focused and did my best. It’s a really great feeling for this stage race victory, after the Vuelta a España 2018. Today I was not the favourite but I did very well. I’m really happy for the job we did all week, the team was great. I went full gas in all the stages, trying to do my best possible every day,” Yates said just after crossing the finish line.
Held as an exception in September, La corsa dei due mari (Race of the two Seas) added one stage to connect the Tyrrheanian coast from Lido di Camaiore in Tuscany to the Adriatic shores in San Benedetto del Tronto in Marche, offering terrain for all the specialists along the way. “Thanks to the eight stages we have been able to make the race a bit harder and to balance the stages for sprinters, for finisseurs and for climbers in addition to the usual final ITT,” explained RCS Sport Race Director Stefano Allocchio, designer of this route, at its presentation.
Switching March’s chilly sea for the warmer waters of September after the hot summer, the 2020 Tirreno-Adriatico welcomed almost all the riders set to participate in October’s Giro d’Italia. The race opened with a terrific double by the German sprinter Pascal Ackermann (Bora-Hansgrohe) who won the first two stages. Colombian Fernando Gaviria (UAE Team Emirates) was defeated by Ackermann’s bike throw in both: the first at the end of the opening 133km stage at Lido di Camaiore and the second at Follonica after 201km.
The experienced Michael Woods (EF Pro Cycling) outsprinted Rafał Majka (Bora-Hansgrohe) to become the first Canadian winner of a Tirreno-Adriatico stage, taking and wearing the blue leader’s jersey after the third – and longest – stage: 217km from Follonica to Saturnia. The duo broke clear on the second passage of the steep Muro di Poggio Murella (up to 20% gradient) at 9km from the finish line, with the Dutch rider Wilco Kelderman (Team Sunweb) finishing third at 20 seconds.
“I love Italy. It’s one of my favourite places in the world to race,” said Woods after his celebration. “The courses always suit me and they are super hard, super challenging, and I like that.”
The next day, the first climbing stage from Terni to Cascia (194km) reached the race’s highest altitude of 1521 meters above sea level at Rifugio Perugia in Umbria. Australia’s Lucas Hamilton (Mitchelton-Scott) beat the Italian Fausto Masnada (Deceuninck - Quick-Step) in a two-man sprint on the top, after breaking clear with 7km to go. Woods took third place, 10 seconds after the duo, protecting his lead.
Another stage over 200km – the demanding fifth from Norcia to Sassotetto (202km) – featured many climbs including three classified GPMs in the Sibillini mountains, not least the final ascent to Sassotetto from Sarnano, 14.2km with a 5.8% average gradient, peaking at 12%. Britain’s Simon Yates (Mitchelton-Scott) broke clear on the toughest section, gaining 35 seconds over Geraint Thomas (Ineos Grenadiers) and Rafał Majka (Bora-Hansgrohe) and taking the General Classification (GC) after Woods was dropped on the first part of the final ascent.
Team leaders could recover some energy on the sixth stage from Castelfidardo to Senigallia (175km) offering a mixed terrain and a final circuit which was repeated four times. The Belgian national champion Tim Merlier (Alpecin-Fenix) claimed his first-ever UCI WorldTour victory, winning a bunch sprint ahead of Ackermann, the Dane Magnus Cort Nielsen (EF Pro Cycling) and Gaviria.
The seventh day offered an exciting route from Pieve Torina to Loreto (181km) and victory went to another national champion from Alpecin-Fenix, this time the Netherlands’ Mathieu van der Poel who attacked with 13 other riders after 50km. The final part of the stage was exciting thanks to the Muri, short and steep climbs at Recanati (hometown of the poet Giacomo Leopardi), Montefano, Osimo and Loreto itself in the final kilometres, ramping up to a 10% gradient. Matteo Fabbro (Bora-Hansgrohe) broke free from the first group with 26km remaining but was caught and passed by Van der Poel and Ruben Guerreiro (EF Pro Cycling) in the final. GC leader Yates was the first of the peloton, 10 seconds behind the stage winner.
Everything would be decided in the final 10km individual time trial ending on the traditional finish line in Viale Buozzi in San Benedetto del Tronto. The stage victory went to the Italian Filippo Ganna (Ineos Grenadiers) who demolished the track record with an incredible time of 10’42’’ at an average of 56.6km/h. Second place went to Belgium’s Victor Campenaerts (NTT Pro Cycling) and third for the Australian Rohan Dennis (Ineos Grenadiers). It was fourth position for Geraint Thomas, who failed to repeat Roglič’s feat of 2019 – overhauling a Yates brother on the final day. This time Simon Yates finished 50 seconds behind Ganna, taking home the Maglia Azzurra.