Kasia Niewiadoma has only once missed out on the podium at Strade Bianche but the Polish rider has never paid a visit to the top step. After three second places across the last three editions of the race, Niewiadoma is looking to finally go one better this weekend as she leads the Canyon-SRAM squad at the first Women's WorldTour race of the year.
The only time that Niewiadoma has missed the rostrum at Strade Bianche was in the first edition in 2015, when she finished sixth. The following year saw her take second behind Lizzie Deignan, who has also enjoyed three visits to the podium in Siena.
Last year saw her biggest losing margin but possibly her strongest performance as she tried to chase down Anna van der Breggen in torrid conditions. Despite a hard chase, Niewiadoma could not reel in a dominant Van der Breggen. It would have been understandable if the Canyon-SRAM rider had been disappointed to miss out again, but she was delighted on the line and a year later she looks at her run in a positive light, not with frustration.
"To be honest it doesn’t bother me. I really love this race,” Niewiadoma said. “It gives me good feelings even though I suffer so much on every ‘little’ hill. I have learned a lot each year but yes, I've never won this epic battle. I have another chance in just a few days and I’m so excited to give it another try."
Canyon-SRAM will field a strong team, which includes former Italian national champion Elena Cecchini, who has twice finished in the top 10 at Strade Bianche. Alena Amialiusik provides another option for the team, while Tiffany Cromwell and Hannah Barnes inject some power into the line-up. 19-year-old Hannah Ludwig, a new signing, will make her debut at the race.
Given her previous at the race, Niewiadoma will be the team’s leader this Saturday. However, she rejects the title, saying that her teammates have an equal opportunity to take home a big result.
“Whenever I'm given the leader role I try to stay calm and show a lot of energy, so I can affect my teammates only with good and positive vibes,” explained Niewiadoma. “But honestly, I don’t really call myself a 'leader' even when the race course suits me. I think that each of us has an equal chance to do something during the race. I can say, though, that whenever I see our well-oiled team working hard to achieve one goal, I get super inspired and it makes me ready to make the final and suffer to the fullest."
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