Test of Legs on Tirreno-Adriatico Queen Stage

Sat 15 Mar 2014

Ivan Santaromita was the best finisher for ORICA-GreenEDGE on the queen stage of Tirreno-Adriatico. Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo) took a decisive victory up to the Selva Rotonda ski resort, beating Nairo Quintana (Movistar) and Daniel Moreno (Katusha) to the summit. Santaromita finished 34” behind Contador in 21st place.

While their results may not look remarkable on paper, Simon Clarke and Luke Durbridge turned in top performances on stage four. Clarke rounded out the top 30 while Durbridge slotted into 38th, 3’44 behind the Grand Tour winner.

“Clarkey is on really good form,” said Sport Director Matt White. “It was no surprise that he was with the front group so late into the climb. Durbo was the big surprise. For a rider of his size and weight to get over the climbs that he did and stay with the peloton until three kilometres to go is pretty impressive. Luke’s in great nick, and it’s a really good sign looking forward to the next month.”

Nearly half of the race’s 240 kilometres were spent in the Apennines mountains. It made for a long, hard day in the saddle. Santaromita tumbled out of contention on the general classification yesterday when he lost contact with the bunch due to a mechanical in the last five kilometres of stage three. Without overall ambitions to look after for the remainder of the race, White allowed his team a bit more freedom today.

“We said at the start that this race offered us the perfect chance to prepare for our goals for the future,” said White. “Ivan was our only hope for the general classification, and he lost time yesterday. It was fairly low blow initially.”

“Following that disappointment, we decided we wanted the guys to push themselves today – Ivan, Daryl and Clarkey in particular,” White added. “They were meant to treat today as a bit of a test. This stage was a Classics day in terms of time and distance covered – more than six hours. It was a good day for them to test the legs. We’re really happy with what we saw.”

Before the test of legs in the second, hillier half of the stage, Cameron Meyer and Michael Hepburn were faced with a test of another kind. Meyer hit a stray bottle and bounced into Hepburn. The duo crashed and had to scramble to rejoin the bunch.

“It took them both out,” said White. “They went down pretty hard. Cam took a chunk of skin off his left hip and elbow. Heppy flew into the grass and landed on his face and stomach. He was still a bit winded when we caught up to them. They were both able to get back on the bikes. Luckily it was pretty early in the stage.”

White expects tomorrow’s mountainous stage to be more of the same for the Australian outfit. The team will avoid the early action and save their legs for the final showdown. While he doesn’t expect his riders to have an impact in the results, White won’t be surprised to see them mixing it up with the front group again.

“Ivan is definitely at a good level,” said White. “If he hadn’t lost time yesterday, he would still be in contention on the general classification. Clarkey is probably on the best form his career. It was just the last kilometre and a half today when things got a bit too hard for him. The way Durbo climbed today – we’ve never seen that from him previously. It will be good to see what everyone can do tomorrow.”