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Strade Bianche 2020

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Astana's Jakob Fuglsang, winner Julian Alaphlippe (Deceuninck-QuickStep) and Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma) on the 2019 Strade Bianche podium

Astana's Jakob Fuglsang, winner Julian Alaphlippe (Deceuninck-QuickStep) and Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma) on the 2019 Strade Bianche podium (Image credit: Getty Images)

In 13 short years, the Italian one-day race Strade Bianche has almost – almost – pulled itself up to be on a level, excitement-wise, with the 'Queen of the Classics', Paris-Roubaix.

What both races share, of course, is the unpredictability and photogenicity of their off-road sections: cobbles for the more than 120-year-old Paris-Roubaix and the 'white (gravel) roads' that give Strade Bianche its name.

Since 2007, Strade Bianche has consistently delivered in excitement, with wet editions – just like at Roubaix – particularly sought after by both fans and photographers, if not the riders, due to the white roads turning to a much browner mud and covering the competitors' faces to make them all but unrecognisable at the race's beautiful, uphill finish at Siena's Piazza del Campo.

The fact that Strade Bianche grew out of an amateur sportive event in Tuscany – the Monte Paschi Eroica, which was created in 1997, and is ridden by cycling enthusiasts on vintage bikes, recreating the races of old on gravel roads – makes it all the more extraordinary, as things normally happen the other way around.

The 2019 edition saw French darling Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck-QuickStep) get the better of Astana's Jakob Fuglsang in Siena, with Jumbo-Visma's Wout van Aert trailing in to complete the podium.

While Van Aert could be expected to be a winner at Roubaix one day, Alaphilippe or Fuglsang are unlikely to ever win 'The Hell of the North', making Strade Bianche the much more democratic Classic. The race has enjoyed a different winner almost every year since 2007, with only Poland's Michal Kwiatkowski – winner in 2014 and 2017 – and the now-retired Swiss rider Fabian Cancellara, who won in 2008, 2012 and 2016, able to take repeat wins at one of the most-looked-forward-to races on the calendar.

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