The Strade Bianche races will begin and end in Siena in 2016 with the women’s race the first event on the new UCI Women’s WorldTour calendar.
The full routes of the races, and the official Gran Fondo Strade Bianche mass participation have been presented by organiser RCS Sport, with the iconic dirt roads of the Tuscany vineyards again set to inspire some spectacular racing. Zdenek Stybar (Etixx-QuickStep) won the ninth edition of the men’s race this year, with Megan Guarnier (Boels Dolmans) winning the first edition of the women’s race. RCS Sport has dubbed Strade Bianche as a ‘Northern Classic in the South of Europe’.
The men’s and women’s race will be held on Saturday March 5, with the Gran Fondo Strade Bianche on Sunday March 6 completing the weekend in Tuscany.
The races have started in Gaiole in Chianti and San Gimignano in recent years but the spectacular city Siena will host the start and finish in 2016. The men’s race covers a hilly 176km route with nine sectors and a total of 52.8-km of dirt roads. The women’s race is over 121km with seven sectors and 22.4km of dirt roads.
The first sector of dirt roads come just 11km after the start in Siena but it is the shortest and easiest. The climb to Montalcino marks the halfway point in the race and is followed by the longest sectors of dirt road. Sector five to San Martino in Grania lasts 9.6km and winds through the exposed Crete Senese hills. Sector six is also hilly and lasts 11.5km long. This usually makes the first major selection in the race before the best riders fight for victory in the final, shorter but steep, sectors of dirt roads. The final cobbled climb to the centre of Siena also plays a decisive role with attacks on the climb usually allowing riders to stay clear and win alone in the spectacular Piazza del Campo in the centre of Siena, the same square that hosts the Palio horse race.
The women’s race covers the 9.5km San Martino in Grania sector and many of the same short sectors of dirt roads before also finishing in the centre of Siena.
The Gran Fondo Strade Bianche follows the same 121km route as the women’s race, with a shorter Medio Fondo route covering 83.5km and six sectors of dirt road. Entry and route details can be found at the official website: www.gfstradebianche.it.
"This event is having more and more success in the international cycling panorama,” Mauro Vegni, RCS Sport Director of Cycling, said at the presentation of the races and Grand Fondo in Milan.
“This is demonstrated by the level of riders and media attending the races, year after year. Starting from the 2015 edition we introduced the Women's race and the Gran Fondo Strade Bianche. I'm sure that in March 2016 we will have a great weekend of sport and spectacle in a unique scenery, unmatched worldwide, a fascinating landscape that only Siena and the Crete Senesi can offer and will be shown in the five continents through our television coverage."