Rain had been expected for Saturday’s Strade Bianche but the latest weather forecasts for Siena and Tuscany are now predicting dry, spring-like conditions for both the men’s and women’s races. That means the dust and a lack of visibility in the peloton could be an important factor in the race.
The riders have enjoyed temperatures of up to 17 celsius during their reconnaissance rides this week, with many of them opting to train in shorts.
A slight east wind should lower the temperatures on Saturday, with a high of 13 celsius forecast in the afternoon when the riders race on the final dirt sectors. There will only be a light wind from the northeast in the afternoon. It will be a cross-headwind as the race travels towards Siena but is unlikely to make an impact even on the exposed hilltops.
The only edition of Strade Bianche to be raced in the rain was in 2018 when Tiesj Benoot and Anna van der Breggen triumphed. Snow during the week and then rain on the day turned the dirt roads into slippery mud tracks. The white dust became a light brown-coloured paste that stuck to the riders faces, bikes and bodies.
Tuscany has enjoyed a warm and dry February leaving the strade bianche dry and dusty his year.
The dirt road surface has been compacted by vehicles and tractors but the lack of rain has dried out the surface, creating a lot of surface dust and loosening stones, especially on the sweeping corners.
Friday’s possible rain could dampen down some of the dust but it is still expected to be a factor. The television motorbike that shoots from just ahead of the riders is likely to through up a dust cloud, filling the riders’ lungs, limiting their visibility and making racing on the wheels much more difficult.
Three-time cyclo-cross world champion and 2020 Strade Bianche winner Wout Van Aert understands how the terrain can impact a race.
"The gravel roads are a little better than last summer, it's also a lot colder. If it stays as dry as it is now, it will be treacherous. Tomorrow they are predicting a little rain, and it will depend on that, whether the dust is compacted or not."
The women’s 136km race starts early on Saturday morning at 9:10 CET. It's forecast to be around 7C then, with some cloud and only a 20 per cent risk of rain. By the time the women’s race reaches Siena at around 1:00pm CET, it should be warmer, with 13C forecast.
The men’s 184km race starts at 11:40CET, when temperatures should be around 10C and is scheduled to finish at 4:30PM when the sun will be fading and temperatures will be around 13C.
Cyclingnews will have full live coverage of the men's and women's editions of Strade Bianche, followed by race reports, news and interviews. Live coverage of the men's 2021 Strade Bianche starts at 11:40 am CET
For more information on how to watch live coverage of the race, visit - How to watch Strade Bianche 2021 – live TV and streaming.
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