3/14/2013 12:00:00 AM - TEAM NEWS!

World champion Tony Martin wins final Tirreno time trial

Tirreno - Adriatico 2013

World champion Tony Martin wins final Tirreno time trial

Nibali seals second overall victory

Tony Martin (Omega Pharma-QuickStep) claimed the final stage of the 2013 Tirreno-Adriatico, a 9.2-kilometre time trial around the streets of San Benedetto del Tronto on Tuesday. The German posted a time of 10:25 to beat Adriano Malori (Lampre-Merida) by six seconds, with Andrey Amador (Movistar) in third, a further four seconds back.

As expected, Vinenzo Nibali (Astana) secured the overall title for the second year in a row. Despite finishing the stage in 12th place, the Giro d'Italia favourite did enough to hold off Chris Froome (Team Sky) on the flat course along the waterfront. Froome started the day 34 seconds down on Nibali after losing the race lead on an epic stage 6, and was unable to claw back the time needed to rescue his race. The prospective Tour leader was able to secure his second place overall, with Alberto Contador (Saxo Bank) slipping into third.

However the stage belonged to Tony Martin, who reminded everyone of his status as the best time trialist in the world. "I was looking for this day because the mountains weren't for me," he said after his second individual time trial win of the season.

"I had full focus for the day and I'm happy I won. It's my first time here. My climbing has been getting better day by day, but I still need some time to improve. It's still early in the season but I'm happy with the stage win. It's been a good race for the team."

With Malori having beaten former time trial supremo Fabian Cancellara into the provisional lead, the Italian looked to be Martin's only genuine competition. The German started calmly, and despite being slower at the first time check his class told in the second half as he cut through the air and towards the win. The unfortunate Egoi Martinez De Esteban (Euskaltel) was the German's minute man, but was he was easily swapped aside before the line.

From there, the only battle remaining would revolve around the final podium places. Barring a major upset, Nibali would come away with the overall but with Froome, Joaquim Rodriguez Oliver (Katusha), Alberto Contador and Michal Kwiatkowski (Omega Pharma QuickStep) separated by 24 seconds the podium was wide open. Kwiatkowski, resplendent in the white jersey already tasted time trial success at the Tour de San Luis earlier this year and when he crossed the line in provisional seventh he looked on course to at least unsettle Rodriguez.

Contador, a shadow of the time trialist he was in 2009, lurched through the midway point 12 seconds down. If he posted a time slower than 10:57, Kwiatkowski would sneak into third but in the final 200 meters the Spaniard found enough to grasp third, to finish in a time of 10:55. Rodriguez, who has improved against the clock in the last 12 months, could only post a time of 11:08, leaving him two seconds off Contador but down in fifth overall.

All eyes turned to the battle between Froome and Nibali. The Sky rider had little chance of overturning the deficit he incurred on the roads to Porto Sant'Elpidio, where he was over-geared and outfought.

Since his move to Astana Nibali has focused on his ability against the clock and despite conceding four seconds at the mid-way point, the overall title had already been secured.

A time of 10:51 was good enough for 12th on the stage and a 23-second winning margin.

"I'm really happy with this Tirreno-Adriatico," he said. "It's something really important to win and it's my first win of the season too. This is perhaps more important than my win that last year because of the riders like Rodriguez, Froome and Contador who came. It's been a fantastic Tirreno."

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Photo: ©  Bettini

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