March 7th 2021
One must pick between two approaches when facing adversity. The easiest is to put your head down and feel sorry for yourself; the other is to take it as an opportunity to find new ways to shine.
For Israel Start-Up Nation and the seven men who will line up on Wednesday at the start of the seven-day Tirreno-Adriatico race, which crosses Italy from the eastern Tyrrhenian coast to the Adriatic Sea, there was no dilemma whatsoever. Although the team had to replace two of its leading GC riders, Dan Martin and Mike Woods, because of some late developing health issues, they quickly reset, refocused, and processed.
No GC threat? Well, there are plenty of other opportunities. “We have excellent sprinters with Hugo Hofstetter and Davide Cimolai, with the whole team committed to lead them in the three sprint stages,” said our DS Nicki Sorensen. “Add to that the opportunity for breakaways in other stages – and you’ve just got to bring ambitions, smarts, and aggressiveness to the highest level. This is the way we reach success here.”
French Hugo Hofstetter is looking to be the designated sprinter in the opening flat 156 km stage around the beach vacation town of Lido di Camaiore. He asked to come to his first-ever Tirreno-Adriatico instead of heading to Paris-Nice, and he believes that it will pay off. For his sprinter teammate Davide Cimolai, this will be his seventh (!) edition. “I just love this race,” he explained. “It’s less stressful than Paris-Nice, the roads are wider, and the weather is better. Add the great espresso, so what’s not to like,” he joked. But on a more serious note, this is a restart, coming after what he sees as a bit of an off year. “I suffered last year with the lockdown – that was hard on me mentally. I could not get it going. But now I feel that I am starting anew. Hopefully, we can fight to win in the sprints and use this as the perfect preparation for Milano-San Remo.”
It seems that everyone in the ISN line-up is eyeing an opportunity. Our newcomer, Italian Alessandro De Marchi, will look for the best breakaway, and Danish Mads Würtz Schmidt has already proved how good he could be, leading us to fifth overall in Etoile de Besseges.
For Israeli Guy Niv, the only pure climber in the lineup, it’s his first stage race of the season and his first Tirreno-Adriatico ever. There are two hilly stages and one mountaintop finish (stage four) that will end with the 14.5 km climb to the Prati Di Tivo Ski Resort. “We can’t be there when all the GC contenders fight that day for the victory,” he said. “But our situation will open up new avenues to explore. For me, a breakaway can be that chance.”
And, of course, how could we forget that this race will also mark Cherie Pridham’s debut as a sports director? We’re excited, naturally, but Cherie likes to get straight to business and focus on her ISN riders’ success. “I want to be judged as a DS. Not a female one,” she said and went on planning the strategy of each of the stages. “It will be a hard race. Let’s concentrate on that, shall we?”
ISN in Tirreno -Adriatico
March 10th – 16th
Sports Directors: Nicki Sorensen, Cherie Pridham
Alessandro De Marchi
Mads Würtz Schmidt