Nibali wins Tirreno-Adriatico; Cancellara claims ITT
Tue, 13 Mar 15:22:00 2012
Swiss Cancellara powered to victory as expected on the flat 9.3km time trial on the San Benedetto del Tronto coast, in a time of 10 minutes 36 seconds.
That was 12 seconds faster than Radioshack-Nissan team-mate Daniele Bennati of Italy.
American former race leader Chris Horner, also of the Luxembourg squad, dropped 20 seconds to Liquigas-Cannondale rider Nibali.
“This is an important win. I’ve always dreamed about winning Tirreno-Adriatico. I’ve won stages but now I’ve won overall too, so I’m really happy,” Nibali said.
“Today was about concentrating on the 9km time trial... The TT was about mental strength.”
Italian Nibali in ninth was 20 seconds off the stage winner's time but a comfortable 14 seconds ahead of Horner in the GC.
“I have no mixed feelings about this,” said Horner after the stage. “It’s been a fantastic week. The team did a great TTT to set me up to take the jersey and I defended it for a few days.
"Tactically I think we did a brilliant race. This is not a course that is ideal for me, but to stay on the podium is good for me. I was concerned that I might not stay in the top three."
Horner's 2011 Tour de France was ended by a horrific crash on stage seven which left him with severe concussion and no memory of his ride to the finish line. His outlook is therefore somewhat realistic.
"After what happened in the Tour last year and to be out of racing for so long, for me there was always a little bit of doubt how I would feel to come back," he added.
"I held the jersey for three days in my first race in eight months. I’m coming out of this very satisfied.
"My form is fantastic and I look forward to the next stage races."
Cancellara said: “It was a tough one, especially when I had in mind my best time from last year. But the conditions today were totally different.
"We had a tailwind to go out but a full headwind to come back. I see that I did three seconds slower than last year’s ride but I still think I did a great ride.
"I also wanted to provide good split-times for Chris to compare. I didn’t feel under pressure to win this. I know where my form is now after 30 hours on the bike in this race and I have a lot of confidence."
Astana Czech Roman Kreuziger, who stood five seconds behind blue jersey Horner before the stage with Nibali a further second back, finished third overall after finishing 39th at 47 seconds.
Australian Cameron Meyer (GreenEdge) was third at 16 seconds just ahead of Canadian team-mate Svein Tuft and Italian Manuele Boaro (Saxo Bank).
Several riders, including Briton Mark Cavendish, pulled out of the race before and during Monday's penultimate stage in order to focus on Saturday's Milan-San Remo, a demanding one-day endurance race and considered one of the monuments of the cycling calendar.
“My Liquigas-Cannondale team is very strong for Milan-Sanremo," added Nibali. "Me and Sagan will be the team leaders. He’ll focus on the final sprint, while I’ll have to do something before that.
"Cavendish is on form and so we’ll have make some allies and make it a hard race right from the start.”
Tirreno - Adriatico : Fina