Tadej started his one-week test – the race from the Tyrrhenian to the Adriatic Sea – just four days after taking part in a one-day classic, Strade Bianche.
Before the race Tadej said:
“It’s my first time heading to Tirreno-Adriatico and I’m pretty excited about it. The race seems to have a bit of everything: climbing, flat, and the final TT so we will be fighting for every stage. I’ll aim to give the GC a good go, and then we’ll also target sprint victories. Hopefully, we can continue the good work we did at the UAE Tour.”
The first stage was flat and intended for sprinters. The stage ended with a group sprint, and Tadej reached the finish line safely hidden in the peloton. Third place in the stage was won by Tadej’s teammate Fernando Gaviria.
The second stage already served with a more varied track, especially in the second half. The conclusion, however, was in a short but laid downslope. The breakaway riders were caught 30km before the finish line and that’s when the real racing started. Tadej’s dangerous rivals (Yates, Landa, Almeida) immediately “jumped” and fled, but in the background, the cyclists of the UAE Team Emirates and Jumbo Visma team had everything under control. On the last gentle climb, their advantage melted and they were caught just before the finish line. Tadej excelled in the final sprint and took fourth place. In the general classification, he has already reached the Top 10.
The third stage was the longest with 219km in length. There was a bit more climbing in the first part, however, the conclusion was a bit more “technical”. The Jumbo Visma team led the peloton and controlled the difference towards the breakaway riders who were caught 10km before the finish line. Mathieu van der Poel won the sprint of the highly stretched group in the slightly uphill finish. Tadej finished the stage in the top10 once again.
The royal fourth stage was a mountain stage and therefore the most difficult in profile. The majority of the climbs were in the second half of the stage. In the beginning, the group of six riders escaped the peloton and gained almost 8 minutes of advantage. Tadej’s UAE Team Emirates took a big role in dictating the pace, as they were aware that Tadej has a chance to win on a stage on such a tough route. The advantage of the breakaway group was steadily melting thanks to the higher pace of the peloton led by the UAE Emirates. 11km before the finish, the advantage was only 3 minutes.
The final, almost 15km long climb to Prati di Tivo was a difficult obstacle for both, the breakaway riders and the main favorites for the stage victory. It was known that this would be a turning point in the race, which could already predict the final winner of the Tirrene Adriatico race. Around 7km before the finish line, Geraint Thomas was the first to try with an attack from the peloton. Tadej was the first to go after him, 6 km before the finish line. Tadej soon caught Thomas and continued in his rhythm all the way to the finish. Yates was the only rider that managed to came close to him, but the stage victory and the overall lead in the race belonged to Tadej.
Really exceptional performance and solo ride on the final ascent, where Tadej improved the record of the ascent to Prati di Tivo previously held by Chris Froome from 2013. With the time of 36 minutes and 6 seconds, Tadej improved the previous mark by more than 2 minutes!
In addition to the stage victory, Tadej also took on the blue jersey of the race leader, the green jersey of the best in the points classification, and the white jersey of the best young rider in the race.
“I tried to attack to stay alone and be able to set my pace. When I saw that the advantage over my opponents was good, I pushed really hard to try and keep the gap, also because I knew Yates was coming close. I gave it my all and managed to win.
As far as the general classification is concerned, every second advantage is precious, also because tomorrow a very difficult stage awaits us and, also because of the final time trial, the fight for the victory will be balanced” said Tadej after an amazing stage 4 victory.
There are 3 stages left in the race, including the final 10 km flat time trial.