Astana Pro Team's Vincenzo Nibali won the 2013 Tirreno—Adriatico in some style, defending the title he took a year ago and beating stiff competition from world class riders like Chris Froome and Alberto Contador.
The 28-year-old Italian, known as the Shark of Messina, finished 12th in the seventh and final stage, a flat and short individual time trial around the beautiful town of San Benedetto del Tronto along broad, palm-lined avenues beside the Adriatic Sea.
Nibali’s closest rival, the former race leader and winner of Stage 4, Christopher Froome was sixth on the day and couldn't do enough to deny the Italian. The Sky Procycling rider gained 11 seconds on Nibali, but the Sicilian still won the race overall by 23 seconds.
The fight for the bottom step of the final podium was incredibly tight. Twenty-two-year-old revelation Michal Kwiatkowski, from Omega Pharma-Quick Step, finished 4th ovplaced Alberto Contador.
The Spanish Team Saxo Tinkoff rider, who has won all three of cycling's Grand Tours and who will be hoping to add to his titles this summer, managed to win the Points Competition. The ever-combative Joaquin Rodriguez was fifth, a second behind Kwiatkowski but with a win in stage five to his name.
After the race, Nibali told B/R in a press release:
It was a great Tirreno Adiratico, and it gives me great personal satisfaction to win against riders of the quality of Contador and Froome, like in the great three-week races.
After yesterday, today’s stage was a big one. There were one or two difficult corners win the rain, and I preferred to take no risks.
I can say I’m in good shape. I’ll be there to play my cards at Milano Sanremo. I’ll try to ride a good race. It’s hard to make predictions, and it doesn’t really suit my characteristics because I don’t have a good sprint finish, but I’ll have to invent something.
The final stage was won by Tony Martin, from Omega Pharma–QuickStep, who was also imperious in the team time trial on Stage 1, which his squad won. Martin was followed by the Italian time trial champion Adriano Malori from Lampre—Merida.
The young German sensation told reporters:
I prefer the longer time trials, but I really liked this route. It was not too technical, and we were lucky with the weather, so everything was really fine. I expected a really big fight with Fabian Cancellara although in the end Malori was my closest rival. But I’ve won and I’m really happy.
My big goal this year is the World Time Trial title. I have the opportunity to win it for the 3rd time, so it’s a really big thing for me. Before that, I have to get used to winning. Here, I was in great form for the first stage and today the last stage, so it’s a good way to start.
If recent racing in Italy is anything to go by, 2013 is going to be a very exciting season.
The final jerseys for the 2013 Tirreno Adriatico:
Banca Medioanum Blue Jersey (Overall): Vincenzo Nibali
Skoda White Jersey (Young Rider): Michal Kwiatkowski
Italo Red Jersey (Points): Alberto Contador
SuisseGas Green Jersey (Climber): Damiano Cunego