With team leader Tadej Pogačar targeting Paris-Nice, UAE Team Emirates have opted for multiple options for this year’s Tirreno-Adriatico. With Brandon McNulty, João Almeida and Adam Yates, UAE Team Emirates have a real chance of completing a rare Paris-Nice and Tirreno-Adriatico double.
Pogačar took control of Paris-Nice on Wednesday’s first mountain finish. Now, it is up to McNulty, Almeida and Yates to match him in Italy as Tirreno-Adriatico heads into the hills.
US-rider McNulty is currently UAE Team Emirates’ best-placed rider in fourth overall, 34 seconds down on time trial winner Filippo Ganna (Ineos Grenadiers). Almeida is sixth at 41 seconds with Adam Yates 39th at 1:18. McNulty is just six seconds behind second-placed Leonard Kamna (Bora-Hansgrohe) and four second down on fellow American Magnus Sheffield (Ineos Grenadiers).
“We’ve got a few cards to play as a team with me, João and maybe even Adam, so I think we’re in a good position and with different options,” an upbeat McNulty told Cyclingnews.
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The 24-year-old from Phoenix, Arizona finished fifth in Monday’s opening time trial in Lido di Camaiore. He avoided any problems on stage 2 and then made sure he was part of the echelon attack in the final kilometres of stage 3.
“My time trial was a good one. I was happy with it and it was fast. It was my first real TT of the year and it was a good way to start the race,” he said.
Ganna has kept the race leader’s blue jersey during the two sprint stages to Follonica and Foligno, but the hills begin on Wednesday with another 200km-plus ride from Greccio to Tortoreto on the hillside overlooking the Adriatic coast. Much of the stage is on valley roads but the final 51km include four three-kilometre climbs up to the finish line.
Friday’s fifth stage has a mountaintop finish at Sassotetto and then stage 6 to Osimo covers the many steep short climbs of the Le Marche region of central Italy.
Ganna is not confident of defending the leaders jersey much beyond Thursday and so McNulty, Almeida and Yates could soon start their assault on the overall classification. McNulty wouldn’t reveal any team plans but appeared confident.
“I had a great winter at home with friends and family. I’m healthy, in a good place and motivated for the season,” he said.
He has already raced for 19 days including the Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana and the more recent UAE Tour. He even got a taste of the Tuscan gravel by riding Strade Bianche.
“The legs are there and I’m getting good signs from my body, so hopefully I’m going to do well here at Tirreno-Adriatico,” he said.
McNulty and UAE team Emirates are prepared for the key stages of Tirreno-Adriatico.
“From what I’ve heard, the long club to the finish at Sassotetto is manageable,” McNulty explained. “It’s going to be the stage the day after with the numerous short steep climbs that will be the key. I think it’s going to be really aggressive that day.
“I’m just hoping for some sun and some good legs, it should be fun.”