The throne of the “King of the Two Seas” is vacant: with this year’s abdication of Tadej Pogačar, the Trident-shaped trophy is looking for a new master. The Tirreno-Adriatico 2023 will unfold without a real favourite, but with plenty of top contenders ready to put on a show. The hunt is on!
In the last few hours, the exciting news has arrived that Primož Roglič will also be at the start, back after a long stop due to the shoulder injury suffered at the last Vuelta a España, which forced him to undergo surgery and a subsequent period of inactivity. His physical condition is therefore completely uncertain, not least because the Jumbo-Visma captain’s goal is to be in top form for the Giro d’Italia. However, Slovenian fans can dream of winning the Tirreno-Adriatico for the fourth time in five years, after Pogačar’s successes in the last two editions and Roglič’s in 2019, broken up by Simon Yates’ victory in 2020. Should Roglič’s legs not respond appropriately, however, the Dutch line-up will have interesting alternatives ready, Wilco Kelderman and Attila Valter.
In recent years he has established himself as one of the best climbers in the peloton and, in the final part of last season, he was the only one able to beat Tadej Pogačar (at the Giro dell’Emilia) or at least put him in some trouble (Il Lombardia), and now Enric Mas (Movistar) is keen to take home a stage race as prestigious as the “Corsa dei Due Mari”. His countryman Mikel Landa (Bahrain Victorious), who came third last year on these roads, also aims to regain the success he missed out on in 2022, and to do so he will be able to count on a guarantee such as Damiano Caruso.
And speaking of climbers, it is impossible not to mention the master of the last Giro d’Italia, Jai Hindley (Bora-hansgrohe), who is in search of the very same condition that allowed him to wear the Maglia Rosa in Verona last year. The Sarnano Sassotetto climb might be the Australian’s hunting ground, but if not, his team-mate Aleksandr Vlasov, who has so far shown the best version of himself in one-week stage races, is ready. Reading through the start-list, however, the most impressive looking team is probably the UAE Team Emirates, with Adam Yates coming fresh from his success in Jebel Hafeet at the UAE Tour, the always tough João Almeida, the talented Brandon McNulty, as well as George Bennett and Davide Formolo.
After a good start to the season, Tao Geoghegan Hart (Ineos Grenadiers) is looking for confirmation; the British team will be betting on him, but also on the very talented Thymen Arensman and Tom Pidcock, recent dominator at the Strade Bianche. In terms of GC, Ben O’Connor (AG2R Citroën), Alexey Lutsenko (Astana Qazaqstan) and Eddie Dunbar (Team Jayco AlUla) are to be kept an eye on, while French Guillaume Martin (Cofidis), Thibaut Pinot, Valentin Madouas (Groupama-FDJ) and Warren Barguil (Arkèa-Samsic) will all have the hard task of trying to give France its first ever victory at Tirreno-Adriatico. And speaking of Frenchmen, Julian Alaphilippe (Soudal-QuickStep) will also be there, and he will figure out on the way whether to aim for the general classification or “settle” for a stage win – or how about both? For Italy, however, showing good condition are Giulio Ciccone (Trek-Segafredo), stage winner at the Volta Valenciana, Andrea Bagioli (Soudal-QuickStep), Lorenzo Fortunato (Eolo-Kometa) and Samuele Battistella (Astana Qazaqstan).
To restrict the Tirreno-Adriatico to the mere fight for the overall classification would be limiting. Also joining the race are Mathieu Van der Poel (Alpecin-Deceuninck) and Wout Van Aert (Jumbo-Visma), who are always loose cannons, no matter whether it is a flat or mountain stage, but also Biniam Girmay (Intermarché-Circus-Wanty), Matej Mohoric (Bahrain Victorious), Filippo Ganna (Ineos Grenadiers), Quinn Simmons (Trek-Segafredo), Alberto Bettiol (EF Education-EasyPost), who emerged unscathed from a nasty crash in the Strade Bianche, and Greg Van Avermaet (AG2R Citroën), all riders who are certainly not going to act as mere spectators.
However, let’s not forget that three sprints are expected to take place as well, in which some of the world’s best sprinters will have the chance to challenge each other, namely Fabio Jakobsen (Soudal-QuickStep), Jasper Philipsen (Alpecin-Deceuninck), Dylan Groenewegen (EF Education-EasyPost), Mark Cavendish (Astana Qazaqstan), Elia Viviani (Ineos Grenadiers), Juan Sebastian Molano (UAE Team Emirates), Peter Sagan (TotalEnergies), Nacer Bouhanni (Arkéa-Samsic), Attilio Viviani (Team Corratec), Simone Consonni (Cofidis) and Alberto Dainese (Team DSM).