In His Own Words: DS Matt White on Tirreno Adriatico Stage Five

Sun 16 Mar 2014

Cameron Meyer and Ivan Santaromita finished with the remnants of the Tirreno Adriatico yellow jersey group atop the vicious Muro di Guardiagrele. Santaromita was the top finisher for ORICA-GreenEDGE in 33rd place, 4’45 behind stage winner Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo). Meyer finished a handful of seconds ahead of overnight leader Michael Kwiatkowski (Omega Pharma – Quick-Step), crossing the line at 5’55.

Contador managed to put every other overall contender under pressure en route to his stage five victory. The dominant performance saw Contador assume the race lead by a healthy 2’08 over Quintana. Kwiatkowski tumbled out of the top ten overall.

In his own word, Sport Director Matt White describes the decisive day in Italy.

There wasn’t much to tell until the penultimate climb. The stage started on an uncatergoised uphill for about five kilometres. The first attacks of the day were in groups of three and four. Eventually a group of eight formed after three kilometres. They got out more than 12 minutes at one point.

Omega Pharma – Quick-Step started riding first. They were the first ones to take up the chase. Saxo and Movistar join in, too. They had put a bit of time into the group out front by the time we hit Passo Lanciano. I think the break maybe had a seven minute advantage when they started to climb. Movistar rode quite a strong tempo on the bottom slopes. That was where we first began to see different groups forming. Ivan and Cam were in the yellow jersey group when Contador launched his first attack.

Contador had company when he made his first move. He got away solo when he went again – which was about half-way up the climb. Kwaitowski was in a lot of trouble as Contador got away and other riders jumped to respond. Our boys went over the top with Kwiatkowski.

Following the Passo Lanciano, there was a lengthy descent. Contador had gone over the top with Adam Hansen (Lotto Belisol), who was part of the day’s early break. He picked up the remaining three riders out front on the descent. Behind him, several small groups were chasing with little success. We were still with Kwaitowski until he lost contact on the descent. He scrambled back on and then got dropped again.

It was every man for himself up the Muro di Guardiagrele. There were no groups, just riders struggling their way to the top in their own personal hell. I know climbs like this are a bit of a tradition at Tirreno, but I think including something with an average grade of 22% and maximum grade of 30% was probably a little unnecessary. The good climbers were struggling. What do you think it looked like for the big guys that were riding in the grupetto?

All in all, it was an unremarkable day for the team on paper – but a good one. I’ve been saying every day that our main purpose here now that the team time trial is done and Santaromita isn’t riding for the overall is to prepare for the races in the future – and we consider this fantastic preparation. We’ve been spoiled with the weather both here and at Paris-Nice, which has made the preparation much easier as well. Not that there was anything easy about today, but it could have been much more difficult had the weather been average.