Vincenzo Nibali won Tirreno-Adriatico on Tuesday in San Benedetto del Tronto, Italy, thanks to a powerful final time trial performance. He put nearly 20 seconds into Chris Horner, jumped from third overall and won the race. Roman Kreuziger fell from second to third overall.
“I had to wait until the end, but got it,” Nibali of team Liquigas said. He won the blue leader’s jersey and trident trophy. “Thanks to my team, we rode perfectly.”
World time trial champion, Fabian Cancellara won the 9.3-kilometre stage up and down the Adriatic coast with a time of 10-36 minutes. His RadioShack-Nissan team-mate, Daniele Bennati placed second with 10-48 minutes.
Svein Tuft clocked the early time to beat: 10-52 minutes. Bennati and then his team-mate, Cancellara overtook the Canadian of GreenEdge.
Nibali was third from last off, but was clearly the strongest. ‘The Shark’ rode with grinta, desire to gain time as he had done in the last two days. He rode in 10 minutes, 57 seconds. Kreuziger could only manage 11-23 and Horner, who just couldn’t get it going, 11-16.
In the last two days, Nibali gained time: 20 seconds on Prati di Tivo and six in bonuses yesterday in Offida.
“Nibali showed to be the favourite,” Kreuziger said. “We let him gain too much that day he attacked on Prati di Tivo.”
The Astana rider from the Czech Republic seemed to be having a hard time with the pressure. Yesterday, he was only five second back on Horner, but ended the race 26 seconds back on Nibali.
“Upset? It’s normal as soon as you finish a race. I think that tonight night it will pass. I’m upset because I made a few errors that hurt my chances to win the overall. Hats off to Nibali, the best won.”
Horner, 40 years old, led the race since Saturday in Chieti. He raced with a small group of favourites into the city’s centre with winner Peter Sagan.
“Peter Sagan was phenomenal,” Horner said yesterday. “I’m sure if Nibali does win he owes Sagan a Mercedes or something.”
His lead slipped from 34 seconds to -14 seconds. RadioShack lacked mountain helpers. Most of the team will go on to race the classics and the riders are not as strong in the mountains as Horner, who won the Tour of the Basque country two years ago.
“We helped Chris as much as we could in the climbs,” Cancellara explained. “It’s been a great week and he’s happy, we’ve done a good ride from the team time trial until today. What he’s done this week is like a victory.”
Tirreno-Adriatico was Horner’s first race since crashing in the eighth leg of the Tour de France. He suffered from concussion and broken nose, and later, a blood clot on his lung.
“I am very happy to be on the podium of this race,” Horner said. “I knew it would be difficult, but it’s been a fantastic week. It answers some doubts I had about my embulism. This confirms that I can still race at the top level.
Cancellara repeated his time trial win of last year on an almost identical course. Last year, he rode with a time of 10-33 minutes.
“It went well,” Cancellara said of today’s effort. “In the end, it’s always hard to win a time trial.”
He won Strade Bianche over a week ago and is one of the favourites with Mark Cavendish for Milan-San Remo on Saturday.
Cavendish pulled out of Tirreno-Adriatico yesterday with many other sprinters to prepare for San Remo. Ian Stannard (Sky) placed seventh today with 10-54 minutes. David Millar (Garmin-Barracuda) rode in 11-03, Jeremy Hunt (Sky) in 11-41.
Stannard, Hunt and most Tirreno participates will now head towards Milan for cycling’s next big appointment.
Tirreno-Adriatico 2012, stage seven: San Benedetto del Tronto, 9.3km ITT
1. Fabian Cancellara (Swi) RadioShack-Nissan in 10-36
2. Daniele Bennati (Ita) RadioShack-Nissan at 12 secs
3. Cameron Meyer (Aus) GreenEdge at 16 secs
4. Svein Tuft (Can) GreenEdge at 16 secs
5. Manuele Boaro (Ita) Saxo Bank at 16 secs
6. Hayden Roulston (NZl) RadioShack-Nissan at 17 secs
7. Ian Stannard (GBr) Sky at 18 secs
8. Peter Velits (Svk) Omega Pharma-QuickStep at 20 secs
9. Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Liquigas-Cannondale at 20 secs
10. Marco Pinotti (Ita) BMC Racing at 21 secs
19. David Millar (GBr) Garmin-Barracuda at 27 secs
34. Chris Horner (USA) RadioShack-Nissan at 40 secs
39. Roman Kreuziger (Cze) Astana at 47 secs
Final overall classification
1. Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Liquigas-Cannondale
2. Chris Horner (USA) RadioShack-Nissan at 14 secs
3. Roman Kreuziger (Cze) Astana at 26 secs
4. Rinaldo Nocentini (Ita) Ag2r La Mondiale at 53 secs
5. Johnny Hoogerland (Ned) Vacansoleil-DCM at 1-00
6. Joaquin Rodriguez (Spa) Katusha at 1-16
Fabian Cancellara wins the final time trial
Horner, Niabli and Kreuziger
Tirreno-Adriatico 2012: Latest news
Stage seven photo gallery
Stage six photo gallery
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Goss gets it together for Milan-San Remo
Sprinters opt for Tirreno to warm up for Milan-San Remo
GreenEdge’s time trial practice pays off
Tirreno-Adriatico 2012: Stage reports
Stage six: Rodriguez wins stage, Nibali gains GC bonus
Stage five: Nibali wins mountain-top stage
Stage four: Sagan rockets ahead, Horner grabs lead
Stage three: Boasson Hagen takes Sky’s second win
Stage two: Cavendish wins opening road stage
Stage one: GreenEdge take Tirreno-Adriatico opening team time trial