It was a scene more reminiscent of a day in hell than a professional race; a brutally tough Tirreno-Adricato stage where riders had to tackle the 27 per cent Muro di Sant'Elpidio three times in cold and wet conditions, too much for many which saw a third of the peloton abandon, and many riders forced to walk their bikes up the steep incline.
This isn't the first time RCS Sport, the organisers of Tirreno-Adriatico, have come under fire from riders and commentators alike after skirting the line of entertainment and legitimate racing. The 2011 Giro d'Italia was famous for its legendary, bordering on punishing parcours, and Milan-San Remo has become hillier in recent years to toughen up its already marathon distance.
But even the RCS head honcho Michele Acquarone admitted that the stage was a leap too far after seeing huge attrition and only 108 riders finish.
@marcus_liddell I loved it too, but it's a matter of balance. Without balance you fall down. After Prati di Tivo and Chieti it was too much.— Michele Acquarone (@micacquarone) March 11, 2013
Have you ever seen that road sigh before?I never. ...wow! Tirreno - Adriatico classic. twitter.com/eki_ekimov/sta…— Viatcheslav Ekimov (@eki_ekimov) March 11, 2013
Riders took to twitter after the race to share their battle stories.
It shows lot of class @micacquarone talks about that they went wrong with todays stage.There are not meany raceorganizer like him#thanks— Fabian cancellara (@f_cancellara) March 11, 2013
My problem was I was stuck in the big chain ring. My electronic shifters decided because im in italy I should climb like Nibali.— Greg Henderson (@Greghenderson1) March 11, 2013
I didn't finish the stage, for the record, but hats off to the hard bastards who did! So proud to be teammates with @michalkwiatek.— Mark Cavendish (@MarkCavendish) March 11, 2013
Arms hurt like my legs are from the push ups I made.For sure it was nice to watch on tv but definitely I don't want to do it again.#tirreno— Andre Greipel (@AndreGreipel) March 11, 2013
After all my grupetto mates threw in the towel w/130km to go I continued on alone in the rain attempting to make time cut. No results yet...— Taylor Phinney (@taylorphinney) March 11, 2013
Probably the most trying day I've ever had on a bike. When I wanted to stop, I thought about my Dad and I didn't quit. I made it, 37min down— Taylor Phinney (@taylorphinney) March 11, 2013
I thought abt my Dad because I know if he could be me on this day, healthy and disease free, he would spend 6.5 hrs fighting to finish too.— Taylor Phinney (@taylorphinney) March 11, 2013
And now I'm on the massage table crying like a little girl. So many times I wanted to cry today, it's all coming out now... Emotional day!!!— Taylor Phinney (@taylorphinney) March 11, 2013
Officially out of time limit. Rules r rules and I wouldn't want them bent just 4 me. I already did the math so it isn't a surprise. Onwards!— Taylor Phinney (@taylorphinney) March 11, 2013