By Gregor Brown
RCS Sport has announced the 16 teams for the second running of the Monte Paschi Eroica – a 181-kilometre race held on Le strade bianche of Siena March 8. The organiser decided to invite Team High Road to its first race of the season despite not doing so for its showcase event, the Giro d'Italia.
The organiser announced the teams for the second edition, won last year by Alexandr Kolobnev of Team CSC, based on pre-selection by the team managers. Amongst the possible star riders likely to race are Magnus Backstedt, Alessandro Ballan, Paolo Bettini, Danilo Di Luca, Enrico Franzoi, Riccardo Riccò, Alessandro Petacchi, Filippo Pozzato and Erik Zabel.
The 16 teams are Ag2r-La Mondiale, Barloworld, Cofidis, CSF Group Navigare, Serramenti PVC Diquigiovanni-Androni Giocattoli, Gerolsteiner, High Road, Lampre, Liquigas, LPR Brakes Cycling Team, Quick Step, Saunier Duval-Scott, Slipstream Chipotle - H30, Team CSC, Team Milram and Tinkoff Credit Systems.
Organiser RCS Sport was inspired by races like Paris-Roubaix and the Ronde van Vlaanderen as well as the long running cyclo-tourist event held on the same strade bianche ('white gravel roads') when it decided to stage the first running last fall. The race – now held in the spring – starts in Gaiole and will include seven sectors of sterrati ('gravel roads') before it ends in Siena's medieval Piazza del Campo.
Sectors and length:
1: km 35.0 at 13.5km
2: km 53.9 at 5.5km
3: km 82.3 at 11.9km
4: km 95.2 at 8.0km
5: km 132.4 at 11.5km
6: km 163.7 at 3.3km
7: km 170.4 at 2.4km
The last sector leaves the riders with eight kilometres of racing, and could be an ideal launch pad for the win.
The Monte Paschi Eroica is the first of RCS Sport's races for 2008 – a calendar which includes Tirreno-Adriatico (March 12-18), Milano-Sanremo (March 22), Giro d'Italia (May 10 - June 1), Giro del Lazio (August 9), Milano-Torino (October 16) and Giro di Lombardia (October 18).