top of page

Strade Bianche: A Beautiful and Unique Experience


4.03.2024


Strade Bianche 2024 is in the books. The 18th edition of the race tested riders and their equipment over 215 kilometers and 15 gravel sectors through the Tuscan hills. Challenging weather conditions added to the unique character of the race that has captured the hearts of the cycling world.



Fabian Cancellara, record holder at of the race with three wins, always speaks about Strade Bianche with emotion: “It is an amazing, beautiful race, such a special day on the bike”. On Saturday, the first words of 23-year-old Hannes Wilksch after crossing the finish line in his first participation at the race were: “It’s beautiful! I already want to come back!” A couple of hours earlier, Loli, massage therapist and soigneur of the team was driving from one bottle point to another with a big smile across her face. “I love coming here, it is my favorite race.”


Fabian, Hannes, Loli, like the 8’000 amateurs who take part in the Gran Fondo event and hundreds of thousands of spectators and TV viewers, all agree on one point: Strade Bianche is a beauty of a race. Far behind the five Monuments of cycling when it comes to history, the Italian race has nonetheless quickly become one of the most anticipated races of the year.




It is hard to say what is the most pleasant for the eyes. Is it the corrugated gravel roads lined by cypress trees navigating through Tuscan hills and villages? The short but brutally steep climbs where thousands of spectators line up? Is it the finish line on Piazza del Campo, in the heart of the historic city of Siena? Or is it the exhausted faces and bikes covered with mud as proof of the grueling character of the race?

 










Beautiful, yes. Brutal too.



It was Tudor Pro Cycling’s second attempt at Strade Bianche with two riders having their first goat the race. The team arrived in Siena three days before the race to get everything lined up for the big day.


“This race must be very well-prepared” explains Matteo Tosatto, Sports Director. “It requires the same work as Paris-Roubaix and Tour of Flanders. One recon ride is necessary, two are better. It is important that riders have the course in mind because it can be dangerous. The gravel roads are not flat. They go up, and they go down too. Riders must have great confidence in their equipment and show great bike handling skills.”





Talking about equipment, special preparations were also necessary. Stronger tires (Schwalbe Pro One) were used, different pressures were applied, and wheelsets were available at each of the ten feeding points strategically chosen along the parcours. Only one flat tire was to deplore but it unfortunately happened to Nils Brun as he was in the early breakaway with four other riders. The Swiss rider, particularly at ease as soon as the roads turn gravel was looking forward to the race: “Strade Bianche was my very first one-day World Tour race last year. It was a bit of a shock! I was more prepared for it this time and it was an absolute pleasure to spend some sectors at the front.”





From a tactical perspective, Strade Bianche cannot be raced like any other race. Riders must be “switched on” from the first kilometer and stay focused to avoid all the pitfalls that can get in their way and put an end to their ambitions, and to their race.


Luc Wirtgen was the team rider who could play the traps best. The Luxemburgish did not let himself be impressed with his first participation in the race. He was part of the 40-men group at the front of the race when Tadej Pogacar decided to attack and knock out the competition with 81km to go. Luc eventually crossed the finish line in 31st position.






Strade Bianche 2024 was brutal. Only one man made it look easy. The rest of the field struggled, Tudor Pro Cycling included. Mistakes were made but experience was gained, and lessons were learned. We already look forward to putting them in good use in 2025.


Ci vediamo l'anno prossimo!




Comments


bottom of page