Maxim Iglinskiy (Astana) was riding the Strade Bianche race for the first time but thanks to some fine form after a block of training in Lanzarote, and by fighting to be first into the final corner, the 28-year-old Kazakh rider made sure his name was added to the list of prestigious winners in Siena.
Iglinskiy was part of the six-rider break that emerged after yet another spectacular race through the Tuscan hills and the over the eight and often very long sections of dirt roads. 2009 winner Thomas Löfkvist (Team Sky) attacked hard as the race approached Siena. He knew the final corners and climbs in the Renaissance city would be vital just like last year but was aware he'd have to make a selection if he had any chance of a second victory.
Australia's Michael Rogers (HTC-Columbia) knew his former teammate was a threat and went with him, as did Canada's Ryder Hesjedal (Garmin-Transitions) and lastly Iglinskiy. Filippo Pozzato (Katusha) and Francesco Ginanni (Androni Giocattoli) came across the gap with a surge to create the six but both paid for their effort as the race entered the narrow and paved streets of Siena and were dropped along with Hesjedal.
The final kilometres come round the back of the Piazza del Campo and Iglinskiy fought hard to be first into the final sharp right-hand corner before the dive down to the finish. Bike handling was tough on the rough paved roads but Iglinskiy just got the front position before the corner and stayed up without hitting the barriers. He then accelerated down to the finish, to win a few bike lengths ahead of Löfkvist and Rogers. Pozzato finished fourth at 18 seconds, just ahead of Hesjedal and Ginanni.
Bravery on the Strade Bianche
The Strade Bianche is all about bravery, as riders' bike skills and nerve are tested during every moment of the 190km race.
113 riders started the race in Gaiole in Chianti, home to the start and finish of the Eroica sportif held every October. Only 65 finished, spread over 13 minutes, with early breakaway rider Brent Bookwalter (BMC) having the honour of being last to make it home. 46 riders didn't make it that far.
The racing began after 26km with Diego Caccia (ISD-Neri), Bernhard Eisel (HTC-Columbia) and Pavel Brutt (Katusha) attacking together but the bunch did not want anyone to open a big gap and they were quickly pulled back. Seven others, including Bookwalter, tried their hand but they were also chased down as the halfway point as the riders made it through section three.
Riders crashed frequently on the dry dirt and gravel roads. Most got up but Team Sky neo-pro Pete Kennaugh landed badly and was taken to hospital by ambulance. Last year he secured third place overall in the Baby Giro with a gutsy ride on the same dirt roads but this time fate was more punishing.
America's Tyler Farrar (Garmin-Transitions) also crashed hard and sat in pain at the side of the road as he waited for assistance.
Suffering on Monte Santa Maria
The peloton split into two groups in the wind but then reformed at the feed zone. The decisive action came later, as expected, in the hilly and testing Monte Santa Maria section. With 150km in their legs, many began to suffer on the 11.5km section of dirt and the peloton split into several small groups.
Twenty-eight riders emerged from the clouds of dirt and formed the front of the race that would go on to fight for victory. Vincenzo Nibali (Liquigas-Doimo), Stefano Garzelli (Aqua & Sapone), Simon Spilak (Lampre-Farnese Vini), Rogers and Ginanni attacked from the 28 and opened a good gap but they were eventually pulled back as Siena loomed on the horizon just before the seventh section of dirt road with 20km to go.
The 28 soon split again, as Juan Antonio Flecha (Team Sky), Fabian Cancellara (Saxo Bank), Pozzato, Ginanni and others tried to go clear. The 28 became 16, then 11 as riders began to lose contact. Then Löfkvist launched his move with six kilometres to go. Iglinskiy was there and then rode a perfect finale, getting into the final corner first, before surging down to the finish, like a horse riding to victory in the Siena Palio race in the very same square.
The riders had raced for almost five hours and just like after Paris-Roubaix, the dust on heir faces and the pain in their eyes revealed the suffering and special quality of the Strade Bianche race.
|1||Maxim Iglinskiy (Kaz) Astana||4:59:48|
|2||Thomas Löfkvist (Swe) Sky Professional Cycling Team||0:00:01|
|3||Michael Rogers (Aus) Team HTC - Columbia|
|4||Filippo Pozzato (Ita) Team Katusha||0:00:18|
|5||Ryder Hesjedal (Can) Garmin - Transitions||0:00:19|
|6||Francesco Ginanni (Ita) Androni Giocattoli||0:00:24|
|7||Leonardo Bertagnolli (Ita) Androni Giocattoli||0:00:43|
|8||Juan Antonio Flecha Giannoni (Spa) Sky Professional Cycling Team|
|9||Enrico Gasparotto (Ita) Astana||0:00:49|
|10||Daniele Righi (Ita) Lampre-Farnese Vini|
|11||Fabian Cancellara (Swi) Team Saxo Bank||0:01:19|
|12||Matti Breschel (Den) Team Saxo Bank||0:01:41|
|13||Daniel Oss (Ita) Liquigas-Doimo|
|14||Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) Omega Pharma-Lotto|
|15||Simon Spilak (Slo) Lampre-Farnese Vini|
|16||Stefano Garzelli (Ita) Acqua & Sapone|
|17||Luca Paolini (Ita) Acqua & Sapone|
|18||Simon Clarke (Aus) ISD - Neri||0:03:04|
|19||Franco Pellizotti (Ita) Liquigas-Doimo|
|20||Assan Bazayev (Kaz) Astana|
|21||Peter Velits (Svk) Team HTC - Columbia|
|22||Lorenzo Bernucci (Ita) Lampre-Farnese Vini|
|23||Giovanni Visconti (Ita) ISD - Neri|
|24||Thomas Frei (Swi) BMC Racing Team||0:03:40|
|25||Michael Schär (Swi) BMC Racing Team|
|26||Rene Mandri (Est) AG2R La Mondiale||0:03:43|
|27||Massimo Codol (Ita) Acqua & Sapone|
|28||Marco Pinotti (Ita) Team HTC - Columbia||0:04:08|
|29||Bernhard Eisel (Aut) Team HTC - Columbia|
|30||Luca Mazzanti (Ita) Team Katusha||0:06:15|
|31||Carlo Scognamiglio (Ita) ISD - Neri|
|32||Michael Barry (Can) Sky Professional Cycling Team|
|33||Francesco Failli (Ita) Acqua & Sapone|
|34||Lars Ytting Bak (Den) Team HTC - Columbia|
|35||Nikita Eskov (Rus) Team Katusha|
|36||Paolo Ciavatta (Ita) Acqua & Sapone|
|37||Matthew Wilson (Aus) Garmin - Transitions|
|38||Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Liquigas-Doimo|
|39||Martijn Maaskant (Ned) Garmin - Transitions|
|40||Paolo Longo Borghini (Ita) ISD - Neri|
|41||Alexander Efimkin (Rus) AG2R La Mondiale|
|42||Alessandro Donati (Ita) Acqua & Sapone|
|43||Kristjan Koren (Slo) Liquigas-Doimo|
|44||Christopher Sutton (Aus) Sky Professional Cycling Team|
|45||Gabriel Rasch (Nor) Cervélo TestTeam|
|46||Martin Elmiger (Swi) AG2R La Mondiale|
|47||Allan Davis (Aus) Astana|
|48||Ian Stannard (GBr) Sky Professional Cycling Team|
|49||Ludovic Turpin (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale|
|50||Rubens Bertogliati (Swi) Androni Giocattoli|
|51||Massimo Giunti (Ita) Androni Giocattoli|
|52||Jan Bakelandts (Bel) Omega Pharma-Lotto|
|53||Murilo Antonio Fischer (Bra) Garmin - Transitions|
|54||Roger Hammond (GBr) Cervélo TestTeam|
|55||Tiziano Dall'Antonia (Ita) Liquigas-Doimo|
|56||Cadel Evans (Aus) BMC Racing Team|
|57||Stuart O'Grady (Aus) Team Saxo Bank|
|58||Mathew Hayman (Aus) Sky Professional Cycling Team|
|59||Kim Kirchen (Lux) Team Katusha||0:06:48|
|60||Davide Appollonio (Ita) Cervélo TestTeam||0:08:12|
|61||Valeriy Dmitriyev (Kaz) Astana||0:10:17|
|62||Andrea Masciarelli (Ita) Acqua & Sapone|
|63||Marco Bandiera (Ita) Team Katusha||0:13:30|
|64||Dmitro Kryvtsov (Ukr) ISD - Neri|
|65||Brent Bookwalter (USA) BMC Racing Team|