RCS Sport has revealed the route of the first edition of the women's Strade Bianche race, with the likes of Marianne Vos, world champion Pauline Ferrand-Prévot and their rivals facing 17km of dirt roads during a hilly 103km race on Saturday March 7, the same day as the men's race.
The men's Strade Bianche race covers the usual 200km route and includes close to 50km of the dirt roads that twist through the Chianti vineyards and rolling fields. Both races start in the picturesque hilltop village of San Gimignano and end in the Piazza il Campo in the centre of Siena. The women's race will start 90 minutes before the men. A Strade Bianche Grand Fondo will also be held on the Sunday. RCS Sport has announced that it will not organise the Roma Maxima race on Sunday March 8.
The Women's Strade Bianche includes five sectors of strade bianche (dirt roads) during the 103km route. The first and final sectors are the same as the men's race, with a 9.5km sector in the spectacular Crete Senesi hills likely to be play a decisive part in deciding the winner.
Michał Kwiatkowski won last year's Strade Bianche after dropping Peter Sagan on the final steep climb into the centre of Siena. RCS Sport has announced that 19 teams will ride this year's men's race, including WorldTour teams Ag2r-La Mondiale, Astana, BMC, Lampre-Merida, Movistar, Orica-GreenEdge, Cannondale-Garmin, Katusha, LottoNL-Jumbo, Team Sky, Trek Factory Racing and Tinkoff-Saxo.
“We are very proud to be able to announce today the birth of Strade Bianche Women, which is going to enrich a movement in continuous development and show how RCS Sport continues to invest in the cycling world,” race director Mauro Vegni said during the official presentation in Siena.
“The Men’s race, now in its ninth edition, has become a world class classic in just a few years. We like to call it “The northern classic of southern Europe” in one of the most beautiful areas of Italy, finishing in the unique scenery of Piazza il Campo. I would like to reveal too a great initiative for sportive and active cyclists: the Gran Fondo Strade Bianche, which will be held on Sunday and will be announced in all full detail in a separate press conference. I would like to thanks all the people involved in these projects for all their constant support.”
Italian rider Elisa Longo Borghini (Wiggle Honda) attended the presentation in Siena and quickly added the race to her objectives for the 2015 season.
“I’m really happy for the birth of this fantastic race. For all the Italian women cyclists and for the women’s cycling movement in general it’s fundamental to have races of this level. I would like to thank, on behalf of all my fellow athletes, those who helped to add the event to our racing calendar. A race like this, held just before the men’s event, gives me a double satisfaction, considering it fits my characteristics as rider. I’ve already put it as one of my season targets.”
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Stephen is the most experienced member of the Cyclingnews team, having reported on professional cycling since 1994. He has held the position of European editor since 2012 and previously worked for Reuters, Shift Active Media, and Cycling Weekly, among other publications.