Canyon-SRAM's Katarzyna Niewiadoma aims to bring her new Canyon-SRAM team success at the Women's WorldTour opener Strade Bianche on Saturday. The Polish all-rounder has twice placed second in the Italian one-day classic but aims to take the top step on the podium this time around.
"I'm confident about my current level and I just want to fight until I drop to deliver the best result ever," Niewiadoma said.
In what has become one of the most popular races on the calendar, Strade Bianche will include 136km from Siena to Siena's Piazza del Campo, featuring eight white gravel road sectors through the Tuscan region of Italy. This year, the race is nine kilometres longer with one additional gravel section, compared to last year.
"I love this race because of where it takes place. The extraordinarily hard course, the demanding finale," Niewiadoma said. "The women's peloton has few opportunities in the season to race on gravel roads. Roads where you push your boundaries of pain but at the same time enjoy the sensations experienced.
"The harder the race, the more satisfied with your performance, I say. That's why we consider this race magical."
As it is the first race on the Women's WorldTour, the winner will wear the series' first leader's jersey. Last year, Elisa Longo Borghini (Wiggle High5) won the race. Lizzie Deignan won in 2016 and Megan Guarnier won in 2015.
In an interview with Cyclingnews, Niewiadoma said she is aiming to be at her best during the spring Classics, targeting Strade Bianche and then at the Ardennes Classic triple - Amstel Gold Race (April 15), La Flèche Wallonne (April 18) and Liège-Bastogne-Liège (April 22).
"Many times during winter preparation where the weather outside was not so great and motivation to ride your bike was sparse, I would think about Strade Bianche," she said.
"I would think about winning this race. It gave me immediate inspiration about what and why I was doing that preparation."
Niewiadoma signed a three-year deal with Canyon-SRAM and debuted with the team last weekend at Setmana Ciclista Valenciana, playing a crucial role in her teammate Hannah Barnes' overall victory.
Clearly in good form, she hopes to improve on her second-place performances during the previous editions of Strade Bianche, but said she isn't putting pressure on herself.
"I did my first race last week with my new team where I felt good in terms of my shape and how I was able to cooperate with my teammates and staff," she said. "I feel like I'm blooming. I don't have any expectations for Saturday. I have done a lot of good work and all that I need for this race is luck."
Canyon-SRAM roster for Strade Bianche: Alena Amialiusik, Hannah Barnes, Elena Cecchini, Tiffany Cromwell, Pauline Ferrand-Prévot and Kasia Niewiadoma.