Mark Cavendish (HTC-Columbia) will have a well-balanced lead-up to his Milan-San Remo defence based on the Tirreno-Adriatico route revealed in Montecatini, Italy, today.



The Corsa dei Due Mari (‘race of the two seas’) is the traditional warm-up to Milan-San Remo, both organised by RCS Sport.   The race starts in Livorno March 10 and ends in San Benedetto del Tronto March 16, four days before Cavendish will try to repeat his San Remo win.



Cavendish will face five former San Remo winners – Tom Boonen (Quick Step), Alessandro Petacchi (Lampre-Farnese Vini), Oscar Freire (Rabobank), Fabian Cancellara (Saxo Bank) and Filippo Pozzato (Katusha) – and sprinters Tyler Farrar (Garmin-Transitions) and Daniele Bennati (Liquigas-Doimo).



There will be plenty of stages for Cavendish’s HTC team to practice its lead-out prior to San Remo, particularly in the first three stages in Tuscany and the tradition race finale in San Benedetto del Tronto.   Stages four, 243 kilometres to Chieti, and five, 234 kilometres to Colmurano, will be difficult for the sprinters and are likely to shape the overall classification, won last year by Michele Scarponi (Androni Giocattoli).



Unlike previous years, RCS Sport left out the individual time trial and the mountain stage to Montelupone.



RCS Sport dedicated this year’s route and an azzurra (blue) leader’s jersey to former team Italy sports director, Franco Ballerini.  Ballerini died nine days ago, February 7, in a rally car race in Larciano, Italy – only a few kilometres away from his home and the British base in Quarrata.



British Team Sky, RCS Sport announced last week, will form part of the 22 teams: Cervélo TestTeam (with Roger Hammond), BMC Racing (World Champion Cadel Evans), Team Sky (Edvald Boasson Hagen), Saxo Bank (Andy Schleck), Acqua & Sapone, AG2R La Mondiale, Androni-Diquigiovanni, Astana, Caisse d’Epargne, Colnago-CSF Inox, Euskaltel-Euskadi, Française des Jeux, Garmin-Transitions, HTC-Columbia, ISD-Neri, Katusha, Lampre-Farnese Vini, Liquigas-Doimo, Milram, Omega Pharma-Lotto, Quick Step, Rabobank.



Stages:

10/3 Livorno-Rosignano Solvay, 148km

11/3 Montecatini Terme-Montecatini Terme, 165km

12/3 San Miniato-Monsummano Terme, 159km

13/3 San Gemini-Chieti, 243km

14/3 Chieti-Colmurano, 234km

15/3 Montecosaro-Macerata, 134km

16/3 Civitanova Marche-San Benedetto del Tronto, 164.km