Stybar wins 2015 Strade Bianche

Zdenek Stybar (Etixx-Quick Step) took the win in Strade Bianche, exploding past Greg Van Avermaet (BMC) on the Via Santa Caterina in Siena to win by two seconds on Saturday. Alejandro Valverde (Movistar), who was dropped on the final 16 per cent climb, finished third.

The trio had broken away with 20km left and despite numerous attempted attacks, came under the flamme rouge together. Van Avermaet was the first to attack in the finale, with Valverde the first to try and close the gap. However the Spaniard, who had been in every significant move of the race and had used his Movistar team to control the peloton for most of the race, was unable to respond to the final two attacks of the race. While Van Avermaet’s initial move proved decisive in the allocation of podium places, it was Stybar’s stinging acceleration that decided the race.

The Czech was quickly moved onto the BMC rider’s rear wheel and when the Belgian began to ease the Etixx rider rose from the saddle once more. Although the gradient had begun to ease, Van Avermaet was forced to concede and could only watch on as his rival ensured Etixx retained their race title from 2014.

“In the final kilometres I thought that Valverde would attack but then Greg surprised me and went really early, at the bottom of the steepest part of the final climb," Stybar said. "I got on his wheel but I knew I’d have to overtake him at the top otherwise I’d be second. I wanted to win today and so did everything I could to overtake him and take this beautiful win."

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It was a near-faultless display from Stybar who had matched an earlier move from Valverde and Peter Sagan on the Monte Sante Marie. The three riders initially worked well together but with over 50 kilometres of racing remaining there was still a large contingent within the peloton with enough strength to muster a chase.

It was Lars Boom and Astana who lit the touch paper just before Stybar, Valverde and Sagan had pushed clear but by the time some of that dust had settled the leading group contained Fabian Cancellara, Sep Vanmarcke, Sagan, Stybar, Rosa, Valverde, Cort Nielsen, Van Avermaet, Daniel Oss and Nathan Haas.

The action saw the early escape of the day, which contained away nearly from Stefano Pirazzi (Bardiani-CSF), Giacomo Berlato and Daniele Colli (both Nippo-Vini Fantini), Giuseppe Fonzi (Southeast), Artem Ovechkin (RusVelo), David Lozano (Novo Nordisk), Julian Arredondo (Trek) and Ilia Koshevoy (Lampre-Merida) brought to heel.

When Stybar, Valverde and Sagan managed to break free they established a twenty second lead but their advantage was short lived with the original ten – minute Nielsen establishing a one minute lead over the remnants of the field.

Only Orica GreenEdge were in a position and willing disposition to lead a chase but with such firepower out in front and so many of the major teams represented, capture seemed impossible.

Oss and Van Avermaet traded turns on the front of the leading group with Van Avermaet, Vanmarcke, and Sagan early aggressors as the break attempted to shed passengers. Valverde and Cancellara - the two most experienced in the move – looked to keep the peace until the next section of dirt roads but that tactic was lost when Oss, back from injury, soared clear just before Monteaperti.

Vanmarcke, always a threat, countered with a searing attack soon after. It was a devastating move. Sagan blown away by its sheer ferocity, with Oss caught for good measure.

It meant that with 19km to go a winner would come from either Van Avermaet, Vanmarcke, Cancellara, Stybar and Valverde. That number was reduced further when Cancellara began to pedal squares on the Colle Pinzuto with Valverde applying the pressure this time.

A move from Van Avermaet was countered by Stybar and Valverde but Vanmarcke was unable to follow as Cancellara, Rosa, and Oss formed their own group at just over 30 seconds in arrears.

Valverde, Stybar, Van Avermaet, then the lonesome Vanmarcke ahead of Cancellara, Rosa and Oss - all three groups swapping seconds between them on the final run into Siena but there was no way back for any of the chasers with the three strongest riders in the race proving their worth.

On paper Valverde would be the strongest climber among the trio but early season form can be as deceptive as it can be short-lived and it was Van Avermaet who threw caution to the wind with the first attack on the final climb.

Valverde, obliged to respond, more out of reputation perhaps, managed to hold the gap but it was Stybar who not only had the strongest legs but the freshest mind. He zipped around the Spaniard at the perfect moment, caught Van Avermaet before the crest of the summit and from that moment the race was won.

Full Results

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#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Zdenek Stybar (Cze) Etixx - Quick-Step5:22:13
2Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) BMC Racing Team0:00:02
3Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar Team0:00:18
4Sep Vanmarcke (Bel) Team LottoNL-Jumbo0:00:46
5Diego Rosa (Ita) Astana Pro Team0:00:56
6Oscar Gatto (Ita) Androni Giocattoli0:00:59
7Rigoberto Uran (Col) Etixx - Quick-StepRow 6 - Cell 2
8Fabio Felline (Ita) Trek Factory Racing0:01:02
9Przemyslaw Niemiec (Pol) Lampre-Merida0:01:03
10Giampaolo Caruso (Ita) Team KatushaRow 9 - Cell 2
11Roman Kreuziger (Cze) Tinkoff-SaxoRow 10 - Cell 2
12Angel Vicioso (Spa) Team Katusha0:01:07
13Salvatore Puccio (Ita) Team SkyRow 12 - Cell 2
14Julien Vermote (Bel) Etixx - Quick-Step0:01:10
15Samuel Sanchez (Spa) BMC Racing TeamRow 14 - Cell 2
16Damiano Cunego (Ita) Nippo - Vini Fantini0:01:19
17Luke Durbridge (Aus) Orica GreenEdge0:01:22
18Daniel Oss (Ita) BMC Racing Team0:01:26
19Fabian Cancellara (Swi) Trek Factory RacingRow 18 - Cell 2
20Pieter Serry (Bel) Etixx - Quick-StepRow 19 - Cell 2
21Esteban Chaves (Col) Orica GreenEdge0:01:29
22Andriy Grivko (Ukr) Astana Pro Team0:01:56
23Eduard Vorganov (Rus) Team Katusha0:01:57
24Matteo Montaguti (Ita) AG2R La Mondiale0:02:01
25Hayden Roulston (NZl) Trek Factory Racing0:02:10
26Nathan Haas (Aus) Cannondale-Garmin Pro Cycling Team0:02:19
27Filippo Pozzato (Ita) Lampre-Merida0:04:21
28Christopher Juul Jensen (Den) Tinkoff-Saxo0:04:30
29Mathew Hayman (Aus) Orica GreenEdge0:04:47
30Giovanni Visconti (Ita) Movistar Team0:04:49
31Peter Sagan (Svk) Tinkoff-Saxo0:05:13
32Maciej Bodnar (Pol) Tinkoff-SaxoRow 31 - Cell 2
33Mauro Finetto (Ita) Southeast Pro Cycling0:05:40
34Magnus Cort Nielsen (Den) Orica GreenEdge0:06:34
35Francesco Gavazzi (Ita) Southeast Pro Cycling0:06:51
36Elia Favilli (Ita) Southeast Pro Cycling0:07:35
37Damiano Caruso (Ita) BMC Racing TeamRow 36 - Cell 2
38Manuele Boaro (Ita) Tinkoff-SaxoRow 37 - Cell 2
39Aleksei Tsatevich (Rus) Team KatushaRow 38 - Cell 2
40Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Astana Pro TeamRow 39 - Cell 2
41Manuel Quinziato (Ita) BMC Racing TeamRow 40 - Cell 2
42Pavel Kochetkov (Rus) Team KatushaRow 41 - Cell 2
43Luka Pibernik (Slo) Lampre-MeridaRow 42 - Cell 2
44Iuri Filosi (Ita) Nippo - Vini Fantini