Two in Top Five for ORICA-GreenEDGE on Tirreno Adriatico Stage Three

Fri 14 Mar 2014

Simon Clarke sprinted to third in the uphill finale at Tirreno Adriatico today. Daryl Impey was two spots further back in fifth place. The ORICA-GreenEDGE pair were part of an eight rider group that gained a small separation over the remaining reduced bunch on the final dash to the line.

Loudly touted as the favourite ahead of stage three, Peter Sagan (Cannondale) did not disappoint. He stormed to victory in Arezzo ahead of Michal Kwiatkowski (Omega Pharma-Quick-Step). Runner-up on the stage, Kwiatkowski assumed the race lead from his teammate Mark Cavendish. Clarke jumped up to third overall at 13” while Impey slots into fifth overall at 17”.

“We knew the final suited both Simon and Daryl,” said Sport Director Matt White. “They’re both riding very well at the moment. We also knew Sagan was the one to beat. We decided to save Simon for the sprint, and let Daryl loose a bit earlier. The idea was that if Daryl could accelerate in the last 500-600 metres, that’s where he would need to make his move.”

“It was a good result for those two,” White added. “It was a solid day, and a good hit out before Milan-Sanremo next weekend. It was quite a long day at 210 kilometres and a very attacking finale. All in all, it was a strong effort.”

Omega Pharma – Quick-Step assumed responsibility in the peloton after giving the nod to a five rider breakaway shortly after the stage start in Cascina. The escape group had three minutes in hand within the opening five kilometres. When the gap extended out to five minutes, Omega Pharma – Quick-Step upped the pace. As the race hit the finish circuit in Arezzo, the breakaway’s lead had fallen slightly to 4’30 with 57 kilometres to go.

“Omega controlled the race quite well,” said White. “We were up and down all day; it was harder than the profile suggested. The five man break went straightaway, and Omega took care of the chase, with a few other teams chipping in during the last hour and a half.”

Bjorn Thurau (Europcar), the last man standing from the early move, caved to his fate on the final lap, sitting up as Tinkoff-Saxo, Trek Factory Racing and Omega Pharma – Quick-step fought for position at the front of the peloton. As both sprinters and overall contenders eyed the finale, Ivan Santaromita came to an unexpected stop on the road.

“Five kilometres from the finish, Ivan hit a hole,” said White. “The impact jammed his wheel against the front. There was nothing he could do. He just stopped.”

“Jens Mouris and Heppy [Michael Hepburn] waited for him," continued White. “They got Ivan back on the bunch just as the climb started. He had to make his way through the bunch as guys were getting dropped on the climb. He lost nearly a minute and ruined his general classification chances. It was a big disappointment considering his goals.”

With a mountainous weekend ahead, White had hoped the team would spend stages four and five looking after their overall contender. With the time lost and the goals lost along with the seconds, plans will be altered.

“We have two options now,” said White. “Ivan can keep riding hard or he can deliberately lose more time tomorrow. He’s off the general classification for the overall win, but he’s not off enough that the peloton will just let him go up the road. If he loses four or five minutes tomorrow, that gives him the option of going on the attack the next day. We’ll decide before the start of the stage tomorrow which of the options suit us best.”

“While Daryl and Clarkey seem to be in a good position overall, they are here for preparation for bigger goals in the next four weeks,” White added. “They’ll give what they can but the stages we have this weekend are normally too hard for anyone on the team but Ivan or Cam.”