Tomorrow it begins, the 2014 edition of Tirreno-Adriatico "race of the two seas". Together with Paris-Nice it is one of the first really big stage races in Europe for the season. As a fan of this race I'm really looking forward for it to begin. I had the opportunity to talk to Kjell Carlström before the start of Tirreno-Adriatico. This year Carlström is directeur sportif for IAM Cycling together with Marcello Albasini and the expectations are set pretty high.
Teams for Tirreno-Adriatico together with Paris-Nice can be built up by grand tour cyclists targeting Giro d'Italia or Tour de France, but for IAM Cycling the team is built up differently:
"Our riders consist, for both Paris-Nice and Tirreno, of classics riders, preparing them for upcoming classics as well as GC riders. In Tirreno we also can target some sprints. For us the goal is not to prepare the riders for Giro or the Tour."
Having names such as Haussler and Löfkvist in the lineup, IAM Cycling is a strong team. According to Carlström the team is able to perform well and maybe even surprise some of us watchers, but the main focus is on doing a good race and sticking to the game plan. Even if there are really strong teams and cyclists around, IAM Cycling will not focus on them.
"Our goal for Tirreno is to do a good team time trial, win a stage and have one rider in the top 10 GC. I'm satisfied if we fulfill these goals and I do believe we can hit it".
The weather for Tirreno this year seems to be rather good, and Carlström does not believe weather conditions will play a great role this year.
"Even if there can be windy sections along the coast, I don't believe it will affect the outcome too much. Probably it can reduce the amount of riders in the peloton, but nothing significant".
Tirreno-Adriatico this year has plenty of time trials. The race begins and ends with a time trial. Stage 1 will be a team time trial and the last stage an individual time trial. In grand tours we've seen time trials have been of key importance for the last few years. As Carlström mentioned, a good team time trial will be important for the team.
"We've done a couple of extra training days here in Italy and several TTT-specific workouts with the team. We've also ridden the TTT stage several times with the team in order to find the best tactics and technique for the route".
Cycling in Italy often means cycling in the mountains, Tirreno is no exception. Stage 4 and 5 will be stages for climbers. IAM Cycling has not been doing any specific training for these stages but Carlström admits the latter part of stage 5 with a climb up to Passo Lanciano and an uphill finish will be really hard. Looking at the lineups and the route of this year's Tirreno-Adriatico, there is according to me no doubt that it is a harder race than the Paris-Nice and Kjell Carlström feels the same. "I agree to 100%". There are many strong teams and riders, Richie Porte, Bradley Wiggins (Team Sky), Michele Scarponi (Astana Pro Team), Cadel Evans (BMC Racing Team), Peter Sagan and Ivan Basso (Cannondale), Daniel Martin (Garmin-Sharp) just a few to mention. No doubt this will be a great race.
The results so far this season has not been the best for IAM Cycling, but Carlström states that it has still been okay. "Most of the cyclist are building form and are close to reaching the first top form for this year, so we can really expect good things to happen now".
Looking at the IAM Cycling lineup for Tirreno-Adriatico and especially Haussler, Löfkvist and Elmiger one could say they do have a slight positive upswing in results and shape even if they, according to me could still have done more. Carlström admits that this is partly true.
"You might be right with that, but then a little luck could have changed a lot. Many of our riders have shown really good training results, but of course races are races and many things needs to go right in order to win."
As a final question to Kjell Carlström, I wanted him to describe the team IAM Cycling we will see in the Tirreno-Adriatico 2014.
"A really tight team working well together and a team that will fight well against a hard competition"
Tomorrow we will see the first stage of the Tirreno-Adriatico 2014 and the race will be broadcasted by Eurosport starting at 14:30 CET each race day.
Below some links for more information: