Kreuziger and Hepburn make the late selection as ORICA-SCOTT suffer more bad luck at Tirreno

Sun 12 Mar 2017

Czech national road race champion Roman Kreuziger and Australian teammate Michael Hepburn both rode strongly over the late climbs on stage five of Tirreno Adriatico today, making it into the favourites group that went on to contest the stage.

More misfortune befell ORICA-SCOTT after team leader and white jersey holder Adam Yates succumbed to sickness and was forced to abandon the race with around 70kilometres to go.

Hepburn, a multiple track gold medalist was alive to the many attacks that sprang in the second half of the race and alongside Kreuziger and Luke Durbridge fought hard to maintain position at the front of the race.

The stage was eventually won by Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe), with a late sprint after the short climb to the finish, Nairo Quintana (Movistar) retains the race lead with two more days to come.

“Both Luke and Michael are climbing very well at the moment,” said Sport director Matt White. “They are big boys and it’s really good to see them in this kind of shape as we go into the spring. Roman is getting better and better everyday, you can see his condition improving on the climbs after a tough couple of days racing.”

“Adam was suffering from stomach problems at the start this morning and it got progressively worse as the day went on, it happened very quickly and by the time we made the decision to stop he already had a high fever.

“Obviously it’s disappointing, we were in a podium position and in general his condition is excellent as we saw yesterday, but there is nothing to be done. He will recover and now we must look ahead to Catalunya, which is only eight days away.

“Tomorrow should be a day for the sprinters and we will give all our support to Luka Mezgec and do our best to get him in a good position to contest the finale.”

How it happened:

The fifth stage of the 52nd Tirreno Adriatico began this morning in Rieti and was described by the organisers as a “wall clmbing” stage, covering 210kilometres and dotted with steep, but relatively short climbs.

Eleven riders formed the early breakaway and after 70kilometres of racing they were being held at two minutes 30seconds by the attentive peloton.

Through the feed zone at the halfway point and the peloton decided the group was too strong to be allowed any more rope and started to bring back the leaders.

Sensing the catch was imminent the lead group duly split with six riders aiming to prolong the inevitable, however with 80kilometres remaining the race came back together.

A group of four formed a fresh attack ten kilometres later and included Mikel Landa (Team-Sky) and Tim Wellens (Lotto-Soudal) with a lead just shy of a minute over the peloton.

As the attack of Landa and Wellens was taking place ORICA-SCOTT suffered some more bad luck as 24-year-old Yates, suffering from stomach problems, dropped back to the team car and was forced to abandon.

With less than 40kilometres to go the constant high pace brought the front of the race back together again before a very active Michael Kwiatkowski (Team-Sky) shook things up once more with a series of attacks.

Durbridge, Kreuziger and Hepburn were up there for ORICA-SCOTT as a dramatic finale unfolded, attacks continued to come with two off the front of a reduced selection as the race hit the final 15kilometres.

The group stayed compact until the final climb when the attack of Quintana split proceedings and created a small selection that broke clear, with Sagan chasing and then sprinting to the win.

Tomorrow’s penultimate stage is relatively short and covers 159kilometres from Ascoli Piceno to Civitanova Marche. Climbs and descents characterize the two thirds of the stage before a long flat, then short final climb before a flat finish.

Tirreno Adriatico stage 5 results:

1. Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) 05:00:05

2. Thibaut Pinot (FDJ) ST

3. Primoz Roglic (LottoNL-Jumbo) ST

20. Roman Kreuziger (ORICA-SCOTT) 00:00:50

General classification after stage 5:

1. Nairo Quintana (Movistar) 21:34:51

2. Thibaut Pinot (FDJ) 00:00:50

3. Rohan Dennis (BMC-Racing) 00:01:06

Photos courtesy of ©