MILAN — Colombian Nairo Quintana, of the Movistar team, secured his second Tirreno-Adriatico title on Tuesday after defending his overnight lead in the seventh and final stage won by Australian Rohan Dennis.
Dennis, of the BMC team, hit an average speed of just over 53 kph to complete a flat 10km time trial around San Benedetto del Tronto in a winning time of 11min 18sec. Dutchman Jan Van Emden (Team Lotto) was second at 3sec while Michael Hepburn (Orica), also from Australia, completed the stage podium after finishing with the same deficit.
Quintana, who last won the ‘Race of the Two Seas’ in 2015, is expected to challenge for his second Giro d’Italia in May and underlined his credentials by racing to victory on Saturday’s hilly fourth stage to take command of the race.
The diminutive climbing specialist’s performance that day proved fatal to the hopes of Italian rival Fabio Aru (Astana), who trailed in nearly five minutes behind and abandoned with a chest infection the following day.
After two following stages in which he defended his lead, Quintana took a 50sec lead over Frenchman Thibaut Pinot into the race decider on Tuesday.
Pinot, however, suffered on the time trial bike to finish way out of contention, and in the end it was Dennis who came closest to upsetting Quintana’s victory plans.
The Australian, who holds the record for the fastest individual time trial recorded at the Tour de France (55.446 kph), finished 25sec behind in second place. Pinot was third overall at 0:36.
Slovakia’s Peter Sagan, who won two stages on the race, came close to disaster after swerving into a bike lane to avoid a woman and her dog casually walking across a zebra crossing.
Double Olympic champion Rowsell-Shand retires
Meanwhile, double Olympic cycling track gold medalist Joanna Rowsell-Shand brought the curtain down on her stellar career on Tuesday. The 28-year-old — who stood out from her teammates because of the loss of her hair through alopecia — won team pursuit gold both in the London Games in 2012 and in Rio last year.
“Having been part of the GB Cycling Team for over 10 years, traveling around the world racing my bike, today I am announcing my retirement from international cycling competition,” she said in a statement on her website, joannarowsell.com.
Rowsell-Shand — who was also a five-time world champion, four in the team pursuit and one individual pursuit crown — also gave some much-needed praise to British Cycling, the subject of adverse headlines for the past year over sexism and bullying allegations.
“I want to thank the amazing team at British Cycling,” said Rowsell-Shand. “From the world class team behind the team who work tirelessly to ensure we have the best preparation for events, to the very first youth coaches who talent spotted me back when I was 15. I couldn’t have done it without you!
“I have enjoyed this fabulous career and the decision to step away has been the hardest I’ve ever had to make, but now is the time for me to move on. I believe I have more to offer the world and I’m now looking forward to the next phase of my life and new challenges.”
British Cycling hailed Rowsell-Shand, tweeting: “One of the best there has ever been. What an incredible British Cycling team career for @JoRowsellShand. #GoodluckJoanna.”
She also received a warm tribute from Olympic team pursuit teammate Laura Trott. “I will miss you @joannarowsellshand. Congratulations on such a wonderful career,” wrote Trott, now married to men’s track great Jason Kenny, on her Instagram account.
“I have been lucky enough to have you there when my own journey began and have loved every minute of it. Good luck in your next chapter.”
Rowsell-Shand — who was also Commonwealth Games individual pursuit champion in 2014 — is to coach and will compete in L’Etape du Jour in July. “I’m also training for L’Etape du Tour in July — riders take on one of the stages of the Tour de France — which will be my longest bike ride ever,” she said.
“Being more accustomed to racing for 4km, the challenge of riding 180km in mountainous terrain will be a long way from what I am used to but I am never one for shying away from a tough target.”