After his no-show at the past Ruta del Sol, the Australian Robbie McEwen
(Predictor-Lotto) got back in full force and won Wednesday's opening stage of the 42nd Tirreno-Adriatico, a ride of 175 kilometres from
the town of Civitavecchia near Rome. Rockin' Robbie had one of his not so infrequent great performances, and gave us a further display of how one needs to have good legs, but also be sharp enough, in order to be a successful sprinter: either by checking the parcours before the race, or just while "testing" it in the previous laps of the final circuit (he said the right response is the first one though: "I saw the parcours on the web the past week") , sharp Robbie realized that the last turn, about 400m from the line, had the potential to make the difference, such that in the final lap the man rounded the final turn in first place, after getting a sensational leadout from Fast Freddy Rodriguez, and cranked up the pace enough to open up a small gap (with a further help from Fast Freddy) on Freire, Petacchi and all other wannabe stage winners.
McEwen leads the parade in across the line.
None of his rivals did get past him, and McEwen could easily open his Italian account for 2007, also grabbing the overall leader's jersey. Freire took the runner-up spot, followed by Hushovd, O'Grady, Eisel, Zabel, Davis e Balducci, while Petacchi even stopped pushing when he realized that catching McEwen had turned into mission impossible and finished the stage outside the top ten spots.
The peloton in action Photo c. Fotoreporter Sirotti
Prior to Rockin' Robbie and the other sprinters/leadoutmen, four escapees had stolen the show: Italians Salvatore Commesso (Tinkoff, two-time National RR champion in the past), Giuseppe Muraglia (Acqua & Sapone, recent winner of the single-day Clįsica Almeria in Spain), and young Panariaman Matteo Priamo as well as the Basque prospect Benat Albizuri (Euskaltel-Euskadi) formed the "breakaway of the day" (in fact Priamo and Albizuri attacked first after 42 km, the other two guys joined'em later) and, after building a maximum advantage of 10'30", stayed clear until the start of the final lap (about 3.5k from the line), e.g. until the Milram-led pack swallowed them. Team Milram did an outstanding chasing job (something they're not new to, see the past Giro d'Italia for reference ...) but in the end it was someone else that reaped the fruits (something they're not new to, see the past Giro d'Italia for reference ...).
The race resumes tomorrow with McEwen in the yellow-and-red jersey and topping also the Points classification, Commesso as KOM leader, CSC as best team, and the whole peloton going from Civitavecchia to Marsciano over 202 km. A new sprint finish is possible. A new McEwen Magic too?
Stage 1 (Civitavecchia to Civitavecchia, 175 km.)
Robbie in the Yellow/Red leaders Jersey
Photo c. Fotoreporter Sirotti
Tirreno - Adriatico Stage 1 Results - Top 6 Places
1.Robbie McEwen (Aus - Predictor-Lotto) - 04h34'24"
2. Oscar Freire (Spa - Rabobank) - s.t.
3. Thor Hushovd (Nor - Credit Agricole) - s.t.
4. Stuart O'Grady (Aus - Team CSC) - s.t.
5. Bernhard Eisel (Aut - T Mobile) - s.t.
6. Erik Zabel (Ger - Team Milram) - s.t.
Ivan Basso today... Photo c. Fotoreporter Sirotti
Tirreno - Adriatico Gc after Stage 1 - Top 6 Places
1.Robbie McEwen (Aus - Predictor-Lotto) - 04h34'14"
2. Oscar Freire (Spa - Rabobank) - at 04"
3. Thor Hushovd (Nor - Credit Agricole) - at 06"
4. Benat Albizuri (Spa - Euskaltel-Euskadi) - at 07"
5. Matteo Priamo (Ita - Panaria-Navigare) - at 08"
6. Stuart O'Grady (Aus - Team CSC) - at 10"
Complete Stage Results Here (pdf file)
Full GC after Stage 1 Here (pdf file)
42nd Tirreno-Adriatico Preview