Strade Bianche preview
Strade Bianche start list
Strade Bianche: Through the years on the white roads of Tuscany - Retro Gallery
Peter Sagan against disc brakes in a mixed peloton
Strade Bianche dedicates white road sector to Cancellara
The peloton has been flagged away from Siena's Fortezza Medicea and is making its way through the neutralised zone. They are due to reach kilometre zero at 11am local time for the official start of the 175-kilometre race.
There are eleven sectors of white roads on the parcours today, which account for some 61 kilometres of the 175-kilometre total distance. The first gravel sector comes after 11 kilometres at Vidritta. Dane Cash has all the details in his race preview.
172km remaining from 175km
The pace is brisk in the opening kilometres, as positioning is important from the outset. Unlike at Paris-Roubaix or a Belgian classic, the first section of unmade road comes very early.
164km remaining from 175km
There has been a flurry of early attacks but no move managed to forge clear ahead of the first section of white road at Vidritta, where it has begun to drizzle.
Raffaello Bonusi (Androni) and Mirco Maestri (Bardiani-CSF) come through the 2.1km section of gravel road with a small lead over the peloton. The second, longer sector at Bagnaia follows shortly.
155km remaining from 175km
Bonusi and Maestri are unable to stretch out their advantage and they are brought to heel by a lined out peloton on the second gravel sector at Bagnaia. Gruppo compatto as a delegation from Ag2r-La Mondiale set the pace at the front.
The eleven gravel sectors on today's route and their locations are as follows, with the length of each segment in parenthesis.
1 Vidritta (2,100m), 11.4km
2 Bagnaia (4,700m), 17km
3 Radi (4,400m), 27.8km
4 Str. Com. di Murlo (5,500m), 38.5km
5 Lucignano d’Asso (11,900m), 66.8km
6 Pieve a Salti (8,000m), 79.7km
7 San Martino in Grania (9,500m), 102.7km
8 Monte Sante Marie (Fabian Cancellara) (11,900m), 121km
9 Monteaperti (800m), 150.7km
10 Colle Pinzuto (2,400m), 155.6km
11 Le Tolfe (1,100m), 161.7km
The beauty of Strade Bianche, of course, is that these gravel roads are slung along the Chianti hills, and hence there is scarcely a metre of flat along the route, which dips and rises throughout the day as it doubles back towards Siena.
150km remaining from 175km
Jose Goncalves (Katusha-Alpecin), already aggressive earlier in the race leads a group off the front of the peloton that contains Marco Frapporti (Androni), Truls Engen Korsaeth (Astana), Quentin Jaregui (Ag2r La Mondiale) and Simone Andreetta (Bardiani-CSF).
148km remaining from 175km
Goncalves and company have a lead of almost a minute as they ride towards the third sector of gravel road at Radi. This next section is 4,400 metres in length.
The leading quintet continues to pad out its advantage as it emerges from the third sector. The now stands at almost two minutes, and it looks as though Goncalves, Frapporti, Andreeta, Korsaeth and Jauregui are set for a long stint at the head of the race.
135km remaining from 175km
The break is now on the fourth sector of white road at Murlo, and they know that there is some respite to follow, at least in terms of road surface. Almost 30 kilometres separate this section from the next, 11.0km segment Lucignano d’Asso.
Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) has twice placed second at Strade Bianche, to Moreno Moser in 2013 and to Michal Kwiatkowski a year later. On the evidence of his showing in Belgium last weekend, Sagan is among the favourites to claim the honours here, but if he does so, it will not be on disc brakes. He explains his rationale here.
An interesting development. Thibaut Pinot (FDJ) has succeeded in bridging up to the leading group. The Frenchman is targeting the Giro this year and has never made any secret of his affection for racing in Italy, but it is certainly a surprise to see him in the morning break here.
125km remaining from 175km
After 50 kilometres, as the race nears Montalcino, a group of six riders - including Thibaut Pinot - has a lead of two minutes over the main peloton. The next sector of grave road, at Lucignano d’Asso, is a little over fifteen kilometres away.
It's a momentous day for Trek-Segafredo neo-professional Mads Pedersen. Not only is the Dane enjoying his first appearance at Strade Bianche, but he is also making his debut as a Cyclingnews blogger. You can read his first offering here.
Strade Bianche Women, meanwhile, is into the final 27 kilometres, and a trio of leaders - Floortje Mackaij, Lara Vieceli and Lauren Stephens - have an advantage of just 25 seconds.
125km remaining from 175km
The peloton has knocked off the pace considerably in the men's event, and Pinot et al have stretched their advantage out towards five minutes on the sterrato at Lucignano d’Asso.
In the women's race, Stephens and Mackaij have dropped Vieceli, but the chasers aren't far behind as they enter the final 20 kilometres.
Although it has been drizzling intermittently at the finish in Siena, the rain has held off over Montalcino thus far, though the skies over the men's race are darkening.
A change of situation in the women's race, as a very elite group of five enters the final 15 kilometres out in front: Katrin Garfoot, Lizzie Deignan, Elisa Longo Borghini, Annemiek Van Vleuten and Kasia Niewiadoma.
107km remaining from 175km
Pinot, Goncalves, Frapporti, Korsaeth, Jauregui, and Andreetta maintain their advantage of five minutes over the peloton on the fifth sector of gravel road near Montalcino.
There is light rain now falling over the men's race, while Deignan et al are riding through rather heavier precipitation in the closing kilometres of the women's race.
Five kilometres to go in the women's race, where the leading group is down to just four riders: Longo Borgini, Niewiadoma, Deignan and Van Vleuten.
98km remaining from 175km
Quite a bit further to go, meanwhile, for Pinot et al in the men's race. Their lead remains steady at around the five-minute mark, but the same can't be said for the ground beneath their wheels. Rain appears to be general all over the course, and this edition of Strade Bianche could well end up resembling the famous Montalcino stage at the 2010 Giro d'Italia.
A spectacular finale to the women's race, as Lucinda Brand and Shara Gillow catch and pass the leaders inside the final two kilometres. Brand leads up the leg-stinging climb into Siena, with Gillow chasing.
Elisa Longo Borghini has won Strade Bianche Women ahead of Kasia Niewiadoma, with Lizzie Deignan third. A remarkable denouement saw Brand pegged back at the death, and Longo Borghini swooped to take a fine victory.
89km remaining from 175km
In the men's race, meanwhile, the break is on the sixth sector of mud road at Pieve a Salti, with a buffer in excess of five minutes over the main peloton.
A major split has occurred on this sixth sector of dirt road, with a group of 15 or so riders - among them Peter Sagan - moving clear of a fragmented peloton. Vincenzo Nibali is among the riders in the third group on the road, but we understand that the race has splintered into pieces.
72km remaining from 175km
Greg Van Avermaet and Stefan Kung (BMC) are in the Sagan group, along with Zdenek Stybar (Quick-Step Floors), although three of his teammates went down in a crash on the last sector of dirt road. Max Richeze has abandoned the race, while Bob Jungels and Gianluca Brambilla have been distanced.
68km remaining from 175km
Inside the final 70 kilometres and the first chasing group of fewer than 20 riders is 2:30 down on the leaders. The second part of the peloton is 3:10 down, and the rest of the race is scattered to the four winds behind. Jurgen Roelandts (Lotto Soudal) and Brambilla are the latest riders to abandon.
Jempy Drucker (BMC) was also caught up in that crash that ended Brambilla's challenge and he, too, has abandoned Strade Bianche. This race looks set to be a war of attrition from here to Siena.
Peter Sagan had been struggling to stay in contact with that first chasing group, and the world champion has abandoned the race, apparently due to illness. His Bora-Hansgrohe team said this via Twitter: "He wasn't feeling well but still wanted to race as much as he could."
Meanwhile, Frapporti has been dropped by the break and trails by 1:15. Stybar and the growing chase group are 2:15 down.
57km remaining from 175km
Lotto Soudal are now setting the pace in the chasing group, which is around 20 riders strong. Tiesj Benoot is among their number, hence the Belgian squad's efforts. Others in the group include Van Avermaet, Stybar, Tom Dumoulin (Sunweb), Luke Durbridge (Orica-Scott) and Michal Kwiatkowski (Sky).
Beneath spitting rain, Pinot and the escapees are approaching the eighth sector of dirt road, the 11.9km Monte Sante Marie section, which has been dedicated in honour of Fabian Cancellara. Cancellara - and Stephen Farrand - were on hand for the ceremony yesterday.
Sean De Bie leads the chasers onto the Cancellara section, 1:40 down on the leaders. Some of the names in this select chase group: Moreno Moser, Greg Van Avermaet, Luis Leon Sanchez, Tiesj Benoot, Tim Wellens, Matteo Trentin, Zdenek Stybar, Luke Durbridge, Scott Thwaites, Christopher Juul Jensen, Jasper Stuyven, Michal Kwiatkowski, Edvald Boasson Hagen and Tom Dumoulin.
52km remaining from 175km
The rain has abated but conditions remain treacherous. Andreetta has been dropped by the beak, which is now down to four riders. Their lead, meanwhile, is down to 1:06, as Tim Wellens takes up the reins in the chase group.
Wellens' effort has forced a split on an uphill section of Monte Sante Marie, and he is joined by Kwiatkowski, Stybar and Durbridge as a gap opens.
48km remaining from 175km
Benoot and Dumoulin fight their way up to the front chase group, which also includes Van Avermaet, Stybar, Durbridge, Wellens and Kwiatkowski. The seven are just 50 seconds down on the four leaders.
The break drops another rider, as Korsaeth is distanced by Goncalves, Pinot and Jauregui. They are just 36 seconds clear of the chasers.
There's a split in the elite chase group, too, as Wellens, Dumoulin, Stybar and Van Avermaet open a gap over Kwiatkowski, Benoot and Durbridge.
Kwiatkowski, Benoot and Dubridge claw their way back up to Van Avermaet et al as they tackle the downhill part of the Monte Sante Marie segment. They trail Pinot, Goncalves and Jauregui by 30 seconds.
42km remaining from 175km
Edvald Boasson Hagen (Dimension Data) bridges up to Van Avermaet and company to swell this elite chasing group to eight riders.
40km remaining from 175km
The chasing group has expanded to twelve riders as Christopher Juul-Jensen (Orica-Scott), Luis Leon Sanchez (Astana), Matteo Trentin (Quick-Step) and Scott Thwaites (Dimension Data) bridge up after the end of the Cancellara segment. Up ahead, Korsaeth has caught back up to Pinot et al. The gap is 28 seconds.
38km remaining from 175km
There are 15 kilometres on smooth roads ahead of the next section of sterrato, on the short, sharp climb of Monteaperti.
The chasers close to within 13 seconds of the escapees, but they have already begun to attack one another ahead of the finale. Wellens and then Trentin put in digs, before Van Avermaet restores some order. Lotto Soudal and Quick-Step seem eager to make use of their numbers in this move.
35km remaining from 175km
Kwiatkowski puts in a long turn at the front of the chasing group, but the gap stays at around 15 seconds.
Kwiatkowski's Sky team have been in the headlines all week after the House of Commons Select Committee hearing exposed some of the deficiencies in the team's record keeping as the mystery over the infamous Jiffy Bag intensifies and the tenibility of manager Dave Brailsford's position comes under further scrutiny. You can listen to the Cyclingnews podcast on the matter here.
31km remaining from 175km
The junction has more or less been made between the first two groups on the road as the rain begins again, with Van Avermaet, Durbridge and Wellens leading the charge.
29km remaining from 175km
After the groups merge, Van Avermaet is distanced, and Stybar looks to force the issue on the front to force him off the back.
There are 16 riders at the front of the race but nobody is getting a free ride here. Stybar and Kwiatkowski are especially prominent in keeping the pace high at the front and this is stretching the group to breaking point.
26km remaining from 175km
The front group splits in two, with Benoot, Pinot and Boasson Hagen among those caught behind, but they remain within touching distance.
25km remaining from 175km
Kwiatkowski seems very eager to get up the road. He attacks again and Stybar is swiftly onto his wheel. Van Avermaet and Wellens are the first to respond, then Durbridge, Dumoulin, Goncalves, Leon Sanchez and Boasson Hagen come across. This could be a defining split.
24km remaining from 175km
Goncalves takes a flyer off the front, and Tim Wellens pegs him back. Nine riders lead onto the 9th dirt road sector, 11 seconds up on Benoot, Pinot et al, who aren't quite out of this.
Stybar punches ahead on the climb up Monteaperti. Goncalves is on his wheel, while Kwiatkowsi and Dumoulin give chase.
Kwiatkowski comes to the front and leads over the top of the climb, with Stybar, Dumoulin, Wellens and Goncalves on his wheel. Van Avermaet is also there.
22km remaining from 175km
Dumoulin takes up the reins on the descent and stretches things out. Van Avermaet, Kwiatkowski, Stybar, Goncalves, Wellens, Juul Jensen and Durbridge are with him.
21km remaining from 175km
Wellens accelerates as soon as the road begins to climb again This has turned into a slugging match, with the front group fragmenting and reforming under each attack. Van Avermaet, Stybar and Kwiatkowski follow to form a quartet on the front, and they have 11 seconds in hand on their erstwhile companions.
20km remaining from 175km
Dumoulin has been impressive all afternoon, and he is trying to bridge across with Durbridge, Juul Jensen and Goncalves hanging on for dear life. 9 seconds the gap.
Van Avermaet, Stybar, Kwiatkowski and Wellens are onto the Colle Pinzuto, the penultimate dirt road section. They lead Dumoulin and company by 9 seconds.
19km remaining from 175km
Kwiatkowski leads up this 2.4km climb, but Van Avermaet, Stybar and Wellens are all with him. Dumoulin, meanwhile, is clawing back his deficit inch by inch.
Stybar takes over on the front and leads over the top of the climb before beginning the short, dirt road descent. Dumoulin has rid himself of Juul Jensen, Durbridge and Goncalves, and is giving chase alone.
18km remaining from 175km
Dumoulin, Durbridge and Juul Jensen have each managed to claw their way back up to the leaders near the end of the Colle Pinzuto section. Dumoulin senses a lull in pace and immediately heads to the front to string things out once again.
17km remaining from 175km
With one dirt road section remaining, we have seven riders at the front: Dumoulin, Juul Jensen, Durbridge, Stybar, Van Avermaet, Kwiatkowski and Wellens.
14km remaining from 175km
Michal Kwiatkowski slips away alone and opens a small gap over the rest of the break.
13km remaining from 175km
Kwiatkowski extends his lead ahead of the final dirt road segment at Le Tolfe. Dumoulin senses the danger and takes up the reins of pursuit.
12km remaining from 175km
Le Tolfe is a short section of 1.1km, but the road kicks up to a vicious 18% gradient. Kwiatkowski bounds up the steepest section. Van Avermaet leads the chase, with Stybar and Wellens on his wheel, with Dumoulin and the Orica-Scott duo a little further behind.
Kwiatkowski holds an 11-second lead over the top of the climb. Stybar, Van Avermaet and Wellens are next as they come off the final sector of dirt road.
11km remaining from 175km
Kwiatkowski is committed to this lone effort,and he has 15 seconds in hand over Stybar, Wellens and Van Avermaet.
10km remaining from 175km
Kwiatkowski had 21 seconds over Van Avermaet, Stybar and Wellens, with Dumoulin, Durbridge and Juul Jensen a further five seconds back.
9km remaining from 175km
Stybar seems eager to force Van Avermaet to perform the bulk of the heavy lifting in the chase behind, and Kwiatkowski's lead is holding at 20 seconds as a result.
8km remaining from 175km
Van Avermaet puts in a long turn on the front of the chasing group, but they cough up another pair of seconds to Kwiatkowski. Dumoulin et al look to be out of it. They now trail by 38 seconds.
7km remaining from 175km
Wellens seems unable to contribute to the chase on a long drag. Stybar comes to the front, but the gap has yawned out to 27 seconds. Dumoulin and the Orica-Scott pair are at 42 seconds.
7km remaining from 175km
Kwiatkowski begins a fast two-kilometre descent with a lead of 28 seconds. He's taking a few risks on the rain-soaked road, but he senses he's opening a winning gap here.
There is, of course, that vicious climb into Siena still to come, but as Kwiatkowski stretches out his lead, he looks a likely winner in Piazza del Campo.
6km remaining from 175km
32 seconds the deficit for Stybar, Wellens and Van Avermaet. This race is slipping away from them.
5km remaining from 175km
Kwiatkowski grimaces but betrays few signs of weakness in his pedalling as he crests the summit of a short climb. Only the tough kick to the finish in Siena remains.
4km remaining from 175km
Van Avermaet forces the pace in the chasing group, but the gap remains at 30 seconds.
3km remaining from 175km
Kwiatkowski is on the rapid descent towards the final climb to Siena, with a shade under 30 seconds in hand on the chasers.
2km remaining from 175km
Kwiatkowski looks to have this in the bag, save for a late, late surprise on the climb to the citadel of Siena.
1km remaining from 175km
Kwiatkowski has 30 seconds in hand over Van Avermaet, Stybar and Wellens as he enters the final kilometre and begins the kick up to the line.
Kwiatkowski has breaches the walls of Siena and he maintains a steady tempo as the gradient rears up.
Van Avermaet leads the chasers on the climb, but they have all the appearance of men racing for second place.
Kwiatkowski climbs out of the saddle for the first time as the gradient stiffens. He is showing no signs of cracking.
Van Avermaet accelerates in the chasing group, but Kwiatkowsi is already at the summit. He takes no risks on the rain-soaked dip to the finish line.
Michal Kwiatkowski (Sky) wins Strade Bianche for the second time.
Greg Van Avermaet (BMC) takes second ahead of Tim Wellens (Lotto Soudal), 15 seconds back.
Stybar places fourth. Dumoulin, so impressive throughout, takes fifth, 1:25 down, just ahead of Durbridge and Juul Jensen.
The remnants of the front selection make their way into Siena in ones and twos. Benoot leads Pinot over the line, 2:20 down on Kwiatkowski.
1 Michal Kwiatkowski (Pol) Team Sky 3:44:45
2 Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) BMC Racing 0:00:15
3 Tim Wellens (Bel) Lotto Soudal 0:00:17
4 Zdenek Stybar (Cze) Quick-Step Floors 0:00:23
5 Tom Dumoulin (Ned) Sunweb 0:01:26
6 Luke Durbridge (Aus) Orica-Scott
7 Christopher Juul Jensen (Den) Orica-Scott 0:01:29
8 Tiesj Benoot (Bel) Lotto Soudal 0:02:20
9 Thibaut Pinot (Fra) FDJ 0:02:23
10 Scott Thwaites (GBr) Dimension Data 0:02:52
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