March offers two major races for professional cyclists looking to tune up for the Grand Tours or the one-day Classics: France’s Paris-Nice and Italy’s Tirreno-Adriatico.
Paris-Nice starts a few days earlier, giving riders a few days extra recovery before the Milan-San Remo Classic; teams decide which riders to send where based on their plans for the rest of the season.
Tirreno-Adriatico might be a bit more suited to sprinters this year, so it is to Italy that Britain’s Sky team has sent its new acquisition, the Manx Missile, Mark Cavendish, to face GreenEdge sprinter Matthew Goss, Garmin-Barracuda’s Tyler Farrar, Lotto’s Andre Greipel, and Lampre’s Alessandro Pettachi.
The first stage of Tirenno-Adriatico was a 16.9-km team time trial from San Vincenzo to Donoratico, over a mostly flat route with a slight incline in the first third and a flat finish.
Australia’s new GreenEdge squad took the win with a time of 18:41, beating RadioShack-Nissan and Garmin-Barracuda by 17 seconds—only 0.001 separated the second and third-placed team. Matt Goss crossed the line ahead of his teammates to take the leader’s blue jersey—a jersey he might well keep a while if he can win the sprints in Stages Two and Three.
Britain’s Sky team took fourth with a time of 19:04, seven seconds ahead of fifth-placed Astana. BMC, the team of defending champion Cadel Evans, finished a disappointing 17th out of 22 teams, 58 seconds off the pace. Evans will be planning to make up time on the climbing stages, Stages Four and Five.