Men’s race – 42.5km to go
The peloton is over a minute down on race leader Tadej Pogacar, with Carlos Rodríguez 36sec behind the Slovenian. Unless he suffers a mechanical – or maybe two – or crashes, it is difficult to see how Pogacar will not win this race. It may not make the most thrilling spectacle, but this is an almighty performance, reminiscent of side during stage eight at last year’s Tour de France.
Men’s race – 47m to go
Tadej Pogacar, who finished seventh here last year, has a 16sec lead over Carlos Rodríguez with the peloton another 15sec down the road. The 23-year-old is crushing this race, turning each small piece of gravel on the road to Siena to dust. This is utterly dominant, a pogcineration of his rivals.
Men’s race – 49m to go
Tadej Pogacar has managed to put four or five bike lengths into the rest of the field. This is only the two-time Tour de France winners’ second race of the season and in the first one – the UAE Tour – he won two stages and the general classification and he’s looking very strong. Carlos Rodríguez, the Spaniard riding for Ineos Grenadiers, is second on the road having gone off the front of the leading group.
Men’s race – 65km to go
Leon Heinschke has been dropped by the breakaway on this very tough stretch of gravel. It looks very windy with the roadside flags flapping furiously near the summit of one of the steep, gnarly climbs. The leading quartet are holding on by around a minute, but there’s some serious horsepower in the chasing group.
Men’s race – 73km to go
Tadej Pogacar, who in the absence of Wout van Aert, Mathieu van der Poel and Tom Pidcock must be one of the favourites today, is being protected very well by a phalanx of UAE Team Emirates team-mates as they hit the seventh sector of gravel.
Tucked in behind the young Slovenian are Tim Wellens (Lotto-Soudal), the Belgian who arrives in fine form, and Richard Carapaz (Ineos Grenadiers), the Olympic champion who is making his third outing at Strade Bianche today.
Men’s race – 75km to go
Lotto-Soudal team-mates Victor Campenaerts and Brent Van Moer have abandoned, as has Matej Mohoric (Bahrain Victorious), but there is some good news for one of the pre-race favourites, world champion Julian Alaphilippe, who has managed to regain contact with the peloton thanks to some great work from Mikkel Frolich Honore.
Men’s race – 80km to go
Simone Bevilacqua (Eolo-Kometa), Sergio García (Eolo-Kometa) and Edoardo Zardini (Drone Hopper-Androni Giocattoli) have been dropped by the breakaway where Taco van der Hoorn and his extremely narrow handlebars are positioned. The popular Dutchman went close last weekend where he eventually finished 10th at Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne after being in the day’s break. The five-man group’s advantage on the peloton has increased to a shade over a minute.
Heinrich Haussler, incidentally, is riding on the front with a handful of Bahrain Victorious team-mates tucked in behind (though I’m not too sure why they are doing so much work right now).
Tiesj Benoot (Jumbo-Visma), the Belgian who won here in 2018, has abandoned the race. I understand he was caught up in the crash a few minutes ago along with a handful of others.
That will come as a big blow for the man from Ghent who arrived in fine form following some strong rides at Omloop Het Nieuwsblad and Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne.
Michael Matthews (BikeExchange-Jayco), who was making his Strade Bianche debut today, has also quit.
Men’s race – 90km to go
Right folks, as mentioned earlier a nine-man breakaway comprising Simone Bevilacqua (Eolo-Kometa), Marco Brenner (DSM), Lilian Calmejane (Ag2r-Citroën), Sergio García (Eolo-Kometa), Leon Heinschke (DSM), Davide Martinelli (Astana Qazaqstan), Taco van der Hoorn (Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux), Edoardo Zardini (Drone Hopper-Androni Giocattoli) and Samuele Zoccarato (Bardiani-CSF-Faizane) lead the race, their advantage over the peloton by just 30sec now.
The big talking point, however, is that there was a huge crash a few minutes ago involving former winner Julian Alaphilippe ( Quick Step-Alpha Vinyl). As a result of that crash the Frenchman has lost contact with the peloton and sits over two minutes down on the race leaders. Alaphilippe has team-mates Mikkel Frolich Honore and Mauro Schmid, the latter of whom won a stage at last year’s Giro d’Italia when it passed over the white roads of the region, for company but he has much to do if he wants to contest today.
Speaking on the eve of the race, QuickStep-Alpha Vinyl sports director Davide Bramati said the team had planned for every scenario. One imagine they had not planned for their main man being blown off course, but it will be interesting to see what happens next.
“We’ve had many good results here in the past, three wins with as many different riders, and we want to be again up there and feature in the fight for victory, especially as it is a race we like a lot,” Bramati said. “It’s going to be a completely different race than we are used to, with temperatures of 35 degrees and even more dust than usual, but we are going there with a huge motivation after our excellent Val di Fassa training camp and prepared for every type of scenario”.
Kopecky wins Strade Bianche Donne!
What a great finale that was. Lotte Kopecky (SD Worx), the 26-year-old Belgian, almost lost the wheel of Annemiek van Vleuten (Movistar) on the Via Santa Caterina climb but, somehow, stayed close enough to remain in contention. Once over the top of the final climb and into the walled streets of Siena, the Belgian rode a canny race taking the right line on each corner, at one point forcing Van Vleuten to go wide.
As a result, the Dutchwoman lost some of the momentum allowing Kopecky to gain a few metres before ultimately rolling down the shallow descent towards the finishing line in the medieval Piazza del Campo where she was able to hold her arms aloft in celebration.
Kopecky’s team-mate Ashleigh Moolman took third following what was a masterclass from SD Worx. A thrilling finale to the first race of the Women’s WorldTour.
Speaking afterwards, Kopecky says: “I cannot believe I just won! It was a great team effort from the whole team SD Worx. I knew I had team-mates behind me that had my back. I had a good feeling in the finale, I tried to follow Annemiek van Vleuten and I just kept pushing until the last corner, I knew I had to be first on the last corner, I was prepared for the sprint. It is the biggest victory of my career.”
Women’s race – 5.5km to go
Demi Vollering clawed her way back on before putting in an audacious attack, unfortunately for the Dutchwoman it came to nothing. A minute or so later the SD Worx rider went again, and again it fizzled out following some counter moves from this small group of hitters. Marianne Vos, by the way, has managed to get back into the leading group.
Women’s race – 6km to go
Ashleigh Moolman (SD Worx) launches herself off the chasing group before the South African catches Annemiek van Vleuten and Lotte Kopecky. Kasia Niewiadoma (Canyon-Sram), Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig (FDJ Nouvelle-Aquitaine Futuroscope) and Elisa Longo Borghini (Trek-Segafredo) lead the race after Marianne Vos and Demi Vollering were dropped.
Women’s race – 9km to go
Annemiek van Vleuten and Lotte Kopecky are working together at the moment, riding as if doing atwo-up time trial in an effort to hold off the charging pack. However, their advantage is slim – just 9sec – and there are a few sharp kickers to follow where valuable time can be lost, or gained if you are a powerful puncheur like Van Vleuten.
Women’s race – 12km to go
Onto the final, short but steep, section of gravel and Annemiek van Vleuten drifts to the front using all of her seated-power to split that group up. Only Lotte Kopecky is able to hold onto the Dutchwoman’s wheel. Difficult to comprehend that Van Vleuten broke her pelvic bone in a crash at last year’s Paris-Roubaix in October, and here she is once again smashing the peloton to pieces.
Women’s race – 16km to go
Lotte Kopecky (SD Worx) has been caught, her team-mate Chantal van den Broek-Blaak takes over on the front of the leading group. A small group featuring Elisa Longo Borghini (Trek-Segafredo), second here last year, is about to bridge over to swell that bunch on the front.
Kasia Niewiadoma (Canyon-Sram), Grace Brown (FDJ Nouvelle-Aquitaine Futuroscope), Lotte Kopecky (SD Worx), Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig (FDJ Nouvelle-Aquitaine Futuroscope), Elisa Longo Borghini (Trek-Segafredo), Elise Chabbey (Canyon-Sram), Yara Kastelijn (Plantur-Pura), Liane Lippert (DSM), Shirin van Anrooij (Trek-Segafredo) and Silvia Persico (Valcar-Travel & Service) are also in the leading group along with Marianne Vos (Jumbo-Visma) and Annemiek van Vleuten (Movistar).
Women’s race – 18.5km to go
Lotte Kopecky is onto the penultimate section of gravel in the women’s race. The Belgian has team-mates Chantal van den Broek-Blaak, Ashleigh Moolman and Demi Vollering in the group behind so looking good for SD Worx, but with Dutch powerhouses Marianne Vos (Jumbo-Visma) and Annemiek van Vleuten also being in that group this race is far from over.
Women’s race – 21.5km to go
Movistar team-mates Paula Andrea Patiño and Alicia González appear cooked after putting in a shift getting their leader Annemiek van Vleuten into a good position ahead of the next section of gravel. Those big efforst a few minutes ago has seen the group whittle down a little more. And Lotte Kopecky (SD Worx), the Belgian national champion, has clipped off the front in a sole attack.
Women’s race – 23.5km to go
Marta Bastianelli(UAE Team ADQ) shifted off the front of that leading group, but the former women’s world road champion was closed down by Alena Amialiusik (Canyon-Sram) before the pair were closed down. Movistar are looking very lively, presumably riding for two-time winner Annemiek van Vleuten.
As it stands . . .
There are no television pictures of the men’s race just yet, but as it stands there is a nine-man breakaway off up the road comprising Simone Bevilacqua (Eolo-Kometa), Marco Brenner (DSM), Lilian Calmejane (Ag2r-Citroën), Sergio García (Eolo-Kometa), Leon Heinschke (DSM), Davide Martinelli (Astana Qazaqstan), Taco van der Hoorn (Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux), Edoardo Zardini (Drone Hopper-Androni Giocattoli) and Samuele Zoccarato (Bardiani-CSF-Faizane). That group is already on to the second section of white gravel road and they lead the peloton by around 2min 45sec.
Although the women’s field has whittled down a little, the reduced peloton is now just 30km from the finish with all of the main protagonists still in the leading group.
What does the startlist for the men’s race look like?
Ag2r-Citroën (Fra): Clément Berthet (Fra, neo-pro), Lilian Calmejane (Fra), Benoît Cosnefroy (Fra), Michael Schär (Swi), Greg Van Avermaet (Bel), Andrea Vendrame (Ita), Clément Venturini (Fra).
Astana Qazaqstan (Kaz): Leonardo Basso (Ita), Manuele Boaro (Ita), Michele Gazzoli (Ita, neo-pro), Miguel Ángel López (Col), Davide Martinelli (Ita), Gianni Moscon (Ita), Simone Velasco (Ita).
Bahrain Victorious (Brn): Pello Bilbao (Spa), Heinrich Haussler (Aus), Matej Mohoric (Slo), Alejandro Osorio (Col), Hermann Pernsteiner (Aut), Jan Tratnik (Slo), Edoardo Zambanini (Ita, neo-pro).
BikeExchange-Jayco (Aus): Sam Bewley (NZ), Kevin Colleoni (Ita, neo-pro), Tsgabu Grmay (Eth), Alexander Konychev (Ita), Michael Matthews (Aus), Matteo Sobrero (Ita).
Bora-Hansgrohe (Ger): Cesare Benedetti (Ita), Patrick Gamper (Aut), Sergio Higuita (Col), Jai Hindley (Aus), Patrick Konrad (Aut), Ide Schelling (Hol), Ben Zwiehoff (Ger).
DSM (Ger): Nikias Arndt (Ger), Marco Brenner (Ger, neo-pro), Romain Combaud (Fra), Chris Hamilton (Aus), Leon Heinschke (Ger, neo-pro), Joris Nieuwenhuis (Ned).
EF Education-EasyPost (US): Jonathan Caicedo (Ecu), Ruben Guerreiro (Por), Ben Healy (Irl, neo-pro), Tom Scully (NZ), Michael Valgren (Den), Marijn van den Berg (Ned, neo-pro).
Groupama-FDJ (Fra): Lewis Askey (GB, neo-pro), Antoine Duchesne (Can), Fabian Lienhard (Swi), Tobias Ludvigsson (Swe), Thibaut Pinot (Fra), Sébastien Reichenbach (Swi), Attila Valter (Hun).
Ineos Grenadiers (GB): Richard Carapaz (Ecu), Jhonatan Narváez (Col), Salvatore Puccio (Ita), Carlos Rodríguez (Spa), Ben Swift (GB), Ben Turner (GB, neo-pro).
Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux (Bel): Jan Bakelants (Bel), Theo Delacroix (Fra, neo-pro), Quinten Hermans (Bel), Simone Petilli (Ita), Domenico Pozzovivo (Ita), Lorenzo Rota (Ita), Taco van der Hoorn (Ned).
Israel-Premier Tech (Isr): Matthias Brändle (Aut), Alexander Cataford (Can), Simon Clarke (NZ), Jakob Fuglsang (Den), Taj Jones (Aus, neo-pro), Krists Neilands (Lat), Guy Sagiv (Isr).
Jumbo-Visma (Ned): Tiesj Benoot (Bel), Koen Bouwman (Ned), Robert Gesink (Ned), Sepp Kuss (US), Timo Roosen (Ned), Milan Vader (Ned).
Lotto-Soudal (Bel): Victor Campenaerts (Bel), Roger Kluge (Ger), Andreas Kron (Den), Harry Sweeny (Aus, neo-pro), Maxim Van Gils (Bel, neo-pro), Brent Van Moer (Bel), Tim Wellens (Bel).
Movistar (Spa): Jorge Arcas (Spa), Lluís Mas (Spa), Mathias Norsgaard (Den), Nelson Oliveira (Por), Einer Rubio (Col), Gonzalo Serrano (Spa), Alejandro Valverde (Spa).
Quick Step-Alpha Vinyl (Bel): Julian Alaphilippe (Fra), Kasper Asgreen (Den), Dries Devenyns (Bel), Mikkel Frolich Honore (Den), Mauro Schmid (Swi, neo-pro), Pieter Serry (Bel), Louis Vervaeke (Bel).
Trek-Segafredo (US): Gianluca Brambilla (Ita), Dario Cataldo (Ita), Alexander Kamp (Den), Quinn Simmons (US), Toms Skujins (Lat), Edward Theuns (Bel), Antonio Tiberi (Ita).
UAE Team Emirates (UAE): Mikkel Bjerg (Den), Alessandro Covi (Ita), Vegard Stake Laengen (Nor), Tadej Pogacar (Slo), Maximiliano Richeze (Arg), Marc Soler (Spa), Diego Ulissi (Ita).
Alpecin-Fenix (Bel): Floris De Tier (Bel), Michael Gogl (Aut), Xandro Meurisse (Bel), Stefano Oldani (Ita), Robert Stannard (Aus), Scott Thwaites (GB), Gianni Vermeersch (Bel).
Arkéa-Samsic (Fra): Warren Barguil (Fra), Anthony Delaplace (Fra), Miguel Eduardo Flórez (Col), Élie Gesbert (Fra), Romain Hardy (Fra), Alan Riou (Fra), Clément Russo (Fra).
Bardiani-CSF-Faizane (Ita): Johnatan Cañaveral (Col), Filippo Fiorelli (Ita), Davide Gabburo (Ita), Alex Tolio (Ita), Giovanni Visconti (Ita), Filippo Zana (Ita), Samuele Zoccarato (Ita).
Drone Hopper-Androni Giocattoli (Ita): Juan Diego Alba (Col), Mattia Bais (Ita), Gabriele Benedetti (Ita), Umberto Marengo (Ita), Simone Ravanelli (Ita), Jhonatan Restrepo (Col), Edoardo Zardini (Ita).
Eolo-Kometa (Ita): Vincenzo Albanese (Ita), Simone Bevilacqua (Ita), Marton Dina (Hun), Erik Fetter (Hun), Sergio García (Spa), Samuele Rivi (Ita), Diego Pablo Sevilla (Spa).
Ciao, buon giorno!
Hello and welcome to our live rolling blog from the 16th edition of Strade Bianche, the 184-kilometre race around the picturesque landscape of Tuscany.
Strade Bianche is a unique race in the professional calendar that has earned a place in the hearts of cycling fans despite its relatively short existence. While amateurs are often found aping their heroes, the first Italian race of the WorldTour season reverses the paradigm.
Taking its lead from the huge popularity of Eroica, the non-competitive amateur event that traverses the chalky white roads of Tuscany and requires riders to complete the event on retro steel bicycles, RCS Sport, organisers of the Giro d’Italia, launched Strade Bianche in 2007 – then called Monte Paschi Eroica – when Alexandr Kolobnev prevailed.
Swiss classics specialist Fabian Cancellara won the first of the three Strade Bianche titles he claimed – he remains the most successful rider on the white roads – the following year in 2008. Unsurprisingly, the race has become a particular favourite with the classics riders, particularly since its move to the earlier part of the calendar from its original October slot – other than 2020’s event that was switched to August as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. Previous winners include Philippe Gilbert, Michal Kwiatkowski, Zdenek Stybar, Julian Alaphilippe, Wout van Aert and Mathieu van der Poel while Moreno Moser remains the sole Italian to have won the race.
The race earned itself WorldTour status in 2016. The eighth edition of the women’s event also takes place today and it once again acts as the curtain-raiser to the Women’s WorldTour.
As it stands the women’s race is into the final 45km of action, while the men passed through KM0 – the official start following a short neutralised section – a few minutes ago. The conditions out in northern Italty are perfect for bike racing, clear blue skies and a slight breeze. It was, according to some pre-race chat with Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig (FDJ Nouvelle-Aquitaine Futuroscope), a littler chilly earlier this morning.