While one part of Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka is currently taking part in Paris-Nice, in France, another part of the team now lines up for the Italian pendant, Tirreno-Adriatico, which starts on Wednesday, March 8.
The 52nd edition of the prominent World Tour race begins with a 22 km long team time trial in Lido di Camaiore, while the following day brings an undulating stage with an uphill finish. Last year, our Norwegian champion, Edvald Boasson Hagen, finished third in this difficult stage. He will be eager to be in the mix once again this time. Stage 3 should be a day for the sprinters, but a short uphill section on the final kilometer may alter the equation.
The queen stage of this year’s Tirreno-Adriatico is stage 4 with the mountain top finish on Terminillo. This 16 km long ascent has an average gradient of 7.3 % and parts of 12 % at the beginning. In 2015, the riders crossed the line on top of the climb covered in snow. This year, we hope for more accommodating weather conditions. Stage 5 is another hard day in the saddle with several short but very steep ascents for the riders to overcome. Once again, the day ends with an uphill finish. The next day is the last chance for the sprinters to shine before the final stage, which is a 10 km long flat individual time trial alongside the coastline in San Benedetto del Tronto.
Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka takes on Tirreno-Adriatico with no less than three previous stage winners in Boasson Hagen, Mark Cavendish and Steve Cummings. The latter took an impressive solo win last year when he surprised the peloton with a late attack on what seemed to be a day for the sprinters. All three riders line up with high ambitions and good spirit. So does Scott Thwaites who recently pulled off a huge performance in Strade Bianche where he made Top10 in his debut appearance. After a strong start to the season, Thwaites and the rest of the team aim to continue on the same path and fight for another round of good results.
Scott Thwaites – Rider:
“I’m looking forward to starting Tirreno-Adriatico. As it has been the theme for me this year, it’s my first time participating in this race so it will be a new experience again. We have been working well together this year and the guys are all very motivated. I think that if luck swings our way, we could be in the hunt for a few stages both in the sprints and in hilly terrain”.
Roger Hammond – Sports director:
“Tirreno-Adriatico was a great race for us last year. It was the race where we really kicked off our World Tour victories with Steve [Cummings] so we have good memories from racing in Italy. Furthermore, with our team being based in Lucca, it feels a little bit like our home race so of course the guys get a bit more motivated for it. The terrain here is also well-suited for the team we are bringing with a couple of sprint stages for Mark [Cavendish] and some undulating and hilly stages for Steve and Edvald [Boasson Hagen]. We are looking forward to getting some good results and hopefully it goes as well for us as it did last year”.
Lineup: Steve Cummings, Scott Thwaites, Bernhard Eisel, Mark Cavendish, Edvald Boasson Hagen, Mark Renshaw, Jay Thomson and Johann Van Zyl.