A stellar field was on display this morning at the start of Strade Bianche in San Gimignano with Peter Sagan (Tinkoff Saxo), Simon Gerrans (Orica GreenEdge) and Fabian Cancellara (Trek Factory Racing) all in attendance.
The race, now in its ninth edition, features 50km of iconic white roads, spread over 10 sectors, with high winds set to play a huge part in the eventual outcome.
At the start of the race Cyclingnews caught up with Peter Sagan, twice second - including last year – in the race.
“It’s a nice day,” he told reporters as he came away from the rider sign-in.
“We have a really strong team and we’ll see how the race goes. It’s always windy, and there was a lot wind in Qatar and Oman.”
One of Sagan’s principle rivals for the Spring Classics, and a two-time winner of the race, Fabian Cancellara, lined up for the race after recovering from a recent illness. The Swiss rider has started the season in strong fashion with a win already under his belt from the time trial stage at the Tour of Qatar. Like Sagan, he will target Milan-San Remo and the cobbles Classics but Strade Bianche will offer both riders, and a number of their rivals, an indication of form.
“We have nice weather and I’m looking forward to a good race, a hard race. I’m curious to see how it goes. I wasn’t great after Oman. I was in bed when I came home and missed a few days of training. Now I’m restarting towards the big ones and that’s good,” Cancellara said at the start.
One rider starting Strade Bianche with rather more uncertainly over his condition is Simon Gerrans. The 2014 winner of Liege-Bastogne-Liege crashed and broke a collarbone in December, missing the Tour Down Under as a result. The Orica-GreenEdge talisman and leader is making his 2015 debut today.
“We’ll see how things go after I’ve a few races under my belt. This has definitely been a different preparation for me this year. This is the latest I’ve ever started racing and we’ll see how that turns for me. It’s going to be really windy. We don’t some recon and that will have a big impact on the race.”
Gerrans will miss Milan-San Remo later this month as he builds up for the Ardennes with the Tour of Catalunya on his race programme.