Riders were greeted with grey skies and heavy rain at the start of Strade Bianche and yet many seemed to be relishing the conditions and a testing race in the mud. Riders were wrapped up in in jerseys, gilets, capes, leg warmers, helmet covers, gloves and overshoes but most opted to ride their standard road bikes fitted with low profile rims and wider tyres.
The team bus area was the usual chaos with late-comers forced to park on the kerb and quickly prepare the bikes. The team mechanics were focused on tyre pressure, using handheld electric or mechanical pumps to ensure each rider had the correct pressure front and back. Tyre choice was clearly important, with riders using 25mm, 26mm or even 28mm tyres.
Only a few riders in both the men's and women's races opted for disc brakes bikes, probably due to the risk of losing time if they are forced to wait for a bike change on the dirt roads when team cars are often blocked behind the lined out peloton. The Trek-Segafredo team were all on disc brakes, as they announced at the start of the season. Taylor Phinney also opted for disc for his season debut with EF Education Frist-Drapac but most other riders were on their usual bikes fitted with dual mount caliper brakes. Cyclo-cross world champion Wout van Aert opted for a standard Stevens road bike with caliper brakes.
Riders signed on together, with many coming to the podium early and then quickly returning to the warmth of team buses. Peter Sagan and his Bora-Hansgrohe teammates were one of the last in the running order and the world champion turned up in a black rainbow jersey and cape. Sagan opted for his usual Specialized Tarmac fitted with Specialized 26mm tyres.
Click or swipe through the gallery above for a closer look at the bikes and gear for the 2018 Strade Bianche.