Etixx – Quick-Step to Strade Bianche
On Saturday we'll race in Italy for the first time this season, in an event we won at the past two editions.
Celebrating this year its 10th edition, Strade Bianche sticks to the course that has made it one of the fans' favourite since 2007. Starting and finishing in the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Siena, this charming race consists of punchy climbs, mostly with a double-digit gradient and coming on unpaved roads. To make it more spectacular, 53 of the 176 kilometers of the event will be on famous the gravel roads, appearing in nine sectors, the last two – Colle Pinzuto and La Tolfe – having a big chance of proving decisive in the outcome.
From La Tolfe there are just 12 kilometers left until the finish, with the last kilometers following the outskirts of the city, along wide, long and straight roads running downhill and uphill. A stone pavement begins 900 meters before the finish line, with the gradient reaching peaks of 16% just 500 meters from the arrival. The final 300 meters of the route include two bends, after the last one the road taking into a slight descent, which leads to the stunning Piazza del Campo.
Last year, after railing across the gravel roads of Tuscany, Zdenek Stybar took a fantastic win in Strade Bianche, thus confirming his potential for one-day races. Now, he will return to Siena as the defending champion and will try to have another solid ride, supported by a very strong team which includes also Gianluca Brambilla, Bob Jungels, Yves Lampaert (making his return after the Volta ao Algarve crash which sidelined him from the opening Belgian week-end), three-time ITT world champion Tony Martin, Matteo Trentin, Julien Vermote and Petr Vakoč, who showed his very good condition last week-end, when he won both Classic Sud-Ardèche and Drôme Classic.
Photo credit: ©Tim De Waele