Wout van Aert storms to victory at Strade Bianche

At his third time of asking, Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma) stormed to victory at Strade Bianche after a 13-kilometre attack on Saturday. The Belgian rider upgraded his two third place finishes, beating Davide Formolo (UAE Team Emirates) and Max Schachmann (Bora-Hansgrohe) to the line at the Piazza del Campo in Siena.

“Today was one long day of suffering and nobody felt that great. The heat was exhausting but I really focussed on hydration and keeping cool and, in the end, I got something left,” said Van Aert.

“I really fell in love with this race two years ago and it was my goal to win. I’m 25 and I’ve already done it. I’m really happy.”

In contrast to previous years, the coronavirus pandemic meant the Piazza del Campo was almost silent as he crossed the line with his hands in the air. It took nothing from a fine performance from Van Aert, who showed he had made the most of this uncertain time in world sport.

Van Aert was part of a select group of riders when he decided to make his move on a downhill section with 13 kilometres remaining. He knew all too well from previous appearances at the one-day race that you could lose a lot of time on the final rise to the line and an advantage over his contenders could only be a good thing.

The gap over the chasers was never that large for Van Aert but he paced himself perfectly and he there was no repeat of his 2018 cramp problems, a potential issue in the Siena heat. Formolo and Schachmann looked as if they may have the Belgian in their sights at one point, but he utilised another downhill section to keep them behind as he approached the finale.

“Maybe there was not really a guy that I had to be afraid of in the last uphill but I think the attack is always the best offence,” Van Aert said.  

“I knew from the previous edition that attacking is never a disadvantage here and I started attacking in a downhill and came with a little advantage on the steep part. From there, it was a man-to-man fight and it worked.”

How it unfolded

Despite the onerous heat – 36°C was reported at the start – riders were keen to go on the attack from the start on the 184km race which featured 11 sterrato sectors of varying lengths and difficulties.

The main break established itself over the opening 20km, with Simon Pellaud (Androni Giocattoli-Sidermec) leading the way. The Swiss rider was joined by teammate Nicola Bagioli, Quentin Pacher (B&B Hotels-Vital Concept), Iuri Filosi (Bardiani-CSF-Faizanè), Corné Van Kessel (Circus-Wanty Gobert) and Benjamin Declercq (Arkéa-Samsic).

Astana led the peloton a minute further back, working for last year’s runner-up, Jakob Fuglsang. By the fourth sector of sterrato, things had broken up in front, with Pellaud going it alone, 30 seconds up on his companions.

By the 60km mark, the peloton had knocked off the pace, leaving the break to extend their advantage to 3:30 at the fifth sterrato sector. The chasers didn’t last much longer out front, with the peloton bringing them back at the sixth sector shortly after the climb to Montalcino, just over 100km from the finish.

The peloton upped the pace shortly after, drawing Pellaud back to within 30 seconds. Astana continued to set the pace at the head of the peloton, while a handful of big favourites suffered bad luck just after the feed zone. Both Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck-QuickStep) and Mathieu van der Poel (Alpecin-Fenix) punctured, while Vincenzo Nibali (Trek-Segafredo) was involved in a crash.

Simon Clarke (EF Pro Cycling) had ventured out alone heading into the second longest sterrato sector of the race, the 8.8km Monte Sante Marie at 55km to go. He left behind a thinned-out ‘peloton’ of only around 20 men before being chased down by a group of four on the gravel, before the main group came back got back to the front shortly after.

Monte Sante Marie saw the peloton fall apart, with 2019 runner-up Jakob Fuglsang (Astana) emerging out front, yelling at the leading camera moto for kicking up dust in front of the group. The Dane was chased by seven men – Van Aert, Formolo, Schachmann, Alberto Bettiol (EF Pro Cycling), Greg Van Avermaet (CCC Team), and Michael Gogl (NTT Pro Cycling).

The front group pushed their gap out to nearly two minutes with under 40km to go, as riders also took an opportunity to take one last fill of water bottles and food to sustain themselves to the finish.

A chase of three riders emerged with Zdenk Śtybar (Deceuninck-QuickStep), Brent Bookwalter (Mitchelton-Scott) and Michaeel Gogl (NTT Pro Cycling), who fell back from the initial lead group on the gravel sector.

The trio partway closed the gap to within 1:30 and looked committed to making the full bridge as the five riders up front settled into a rhythm. As the gap closed even further to 1:06, however, the chase broke apart with Stybar pushing ahead and then seconds later followed by Bookwalter.

Following the next gravel sector, Schachmann made a strong attack with Van Aert quickly jumping on his wheel over a short climb. The two cleared the front group with just a few kilometres before reaching the foot of the Colle Pinzuto sector that included a 15 per cent climb at the end.

Fuglsang bridged across to Van Aert and Schachmann, as did Bettiol and Formolo, while Van Avermaet was distanced and later passed by Stybar and then Bookwalter.

Bettiol made a powerful move on the first short climb, kicking up dust behind him, and although he gained a few metres, Van Aert pulled him back into the fold.

The last gravel sector, Le Tolfe, was the opportunity Van Aert was waiting for to launch another huge attack on the 18 per cent climb that led back onto the tarmac with 12km to go. As the gap to Van Aert grew uncomfortably large, Schachmann put on a chase with Bettiol, Formolo on his wheel, while Fuglsang was distance in the flurry of late-race efforts.

The three chasers powered over the steep city-street climbs, and eventually losing an exhausted Bettiol, but could not manage to close the 17-second gap to Van Aert.

Van Aert, comfortable in a time-trial-like position, with his arms resting on his handlebars, powered through the final three kilometres knowing he had the race in hand. All the Belgian had to do was ride up the deserted final climb into Siena town centre and into an equally empty Piazza del Campo to claim the victory.


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Full Results
Pos.Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Wout van Aert (Bel) Team Jumbo-Visma 4:58:56
2Davide Formolo (Ita) UAE Team Emirates 0:00:30
3Maximilian Schachmann (Ger) Bora-Hansgrohe 0:00:32
4Alberto Bettiol (Ita) EF Pro Cycling 0:01:31
5Jakob Fuglsang (Den) Astana Pro Team 0:02:55
6Zdenek Stybar (Cze) Deceuninck-Quickstep 0:03:59
7Brent Bookwalter (USA) Mitchelton-Scott 0:04:25
8Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) CCC Team 0:04:27
9Michael Gogl (Aut) NTT Pro Cycling 0:06:47
10Diego Rosa (Ita) Team Arkea-Samsic 0:07:45
11Gregor Mühlberger (Aut) Bora-Hansgrohe 0:08:11
12Michal Kwiatkowski (Pol) Team Ineos 0:10:03
13Tadej Pogacar (Slo) UAE Team Emirates
14Stefan Küng (Swi) Groupama-FDJ
15Mathieu Van der Poel (Ned) Alpecin-Fenix 0:10:06
16Diego Ulissi (Ita) UAE Team Emirates 0:10:09
17Gorka Izagirre Insausti (Spa) Astana Pro Team
18Loïc Vliegen (Bel) Circus-Wanty Gobert 0:10:11
19Matej Mohoric (Slo) Bahrain McLaren 0:10:30
20Andrea Vendrame (Ita) AG2R la Mondiale 0:13:41
21Valerio Conti (Ita) UAE Team Emirates 0:13:46
22Jack Bauer (NZl) Mitchelton-Scott 0:14:11
23Marcus Burghardt (Ger) Bora-Hansgrohe 0:14:46
24Julian Alaphilippe (Fra) Deceuninck-Quickstep 0:15:06
25Philippe Gilbert (Bel) Lotto Soudal
26Josip Rumac (Cro) Androni Giocattoli-Sidermec
27Daniel Oss (Ita) Bora-Hansgrohe 0:19:27
28Michael Schär (Swi) CCC Team
29Hugo Houle (Can) Astana Pro Team
30Michael Valgren Hundahl (Den) NTT Pro Cycling
31Olivier Le Gac (Fra) Groupama-FDJ
32Giulio Ciccone (Ita) Trek-Segafredo
33Alessandro De Marchi (Ita) CCC Team
34Alex Dowsett (GBr) Israel Start-Up Nation
35Lawson Craddock (USA) EF Pro Cycling
36Michael Woods (Can) EF Pro Cycling
37Cyril Gautier (Fra) B&B Hotels-Vital Concept
38Amund Grøndahl Jansen (Nor) Team Jumbo-Visma
39Rui Costa (Por) UAE Team Emirates
40Simon Pellaud (Swi) Androni Giocattoli-Sidermec
41Davide Gabburo (Ita) Androni Giocattoli-Sidermec 0:20:53
42Edvald Boasson Hagen (Nor) NTT Pro Cycling 0:21:16
OTLMikkel Frølich Honoré (Den) Deceuninck-Quickstep 0:24:52
OTLGianni Vermeersch (Bel) Alpecin-Fenix 0:25:21
OTLFloris De Tier (Bel) Alpecin-Fenix 0:25:48
OTLSimon Geschke (Ger) CCC Team
OTLSimone Ravanelli (Ita) Androni Giocattoli-Sidermec
OTLRoman Kreuziger (Cze) NTT Pro Cycling 0:25:58
OTLCesare Benedetti (Ita) Bora-Hansgrohe
OTLAlexander Konychev (Ita) Mitchelton-Scott
DNFKasper Asgreen (Den) Deceuninck-Quickstep
DNFDavide Ballerini (Ita) Deceuninck-Quickstep
DNFBob Jungels (Lux) Deceuninck-Quickstep
DNFPieter Serry (Bel) Deceuninck-Quickstep
DNFJulien Duval (Fra) AG2R la Mondiale
DNFDorian Godon (Fra) AG2R la Mondiale
DNFLawrence Naesen (Bel) AG2R la Mondiale
DNFOliver Naesen (Bel) AG2R la Mondiale
DNFLawrence Warbasse (USA) AG2R la Mondiale
DNFKristian Sbaragli (Ita) Alpecin-Fenix
DNFScott Thwaites (GBr) Alpecin-Fenix
DNFPetr Vakoc (Cze) Alpecin-Fenix
DNFPhilipp Walsleben (Ger) Alpecin-Fenix
DNFNicola Bagioli (Ita) Androni Giocattoli-Sidermec
DNFMattia Frapporti (Ita) Androni Giocattoli-Sidermec
DNFMattia Viel (Ita) Androni Giocattoli-Sidermec
DNFAlexey Lutsenko (Kaz) Astana Pro Team
DNFManuele Boaro (Ita) Astana Pro Team
DNFFabio Felline (Ita) Astana Pro Team
DNFMaxime Chevalier (Fra) B&B Hotels - Vital Concept p/b KTM
DNFArnaud Courteille (Fra) B&B Hotels-Vital Concept
DNFJohan Le Bon (Fra) B&B Hotels-Vital Concept
DNFQuentin Pacher (Fra) B&B Hotels-Vital Concept
DNFSebastian Schönberger (Aut) B&B Hotels-Vital Concept
DNFTom-Jelte Slagter (Ned) B&B Hotels-Vital Concept
DNFDylan Teuns (Bel) Bahrain McLaren
DNFDomen Novak (Slo) Bahrain McLaren
DNFGrega Bole (Slo) Bahrain McLaren
DNFIvan Garcia Cortina (Spa) Bahrain McLaren
DNFJan Tratnik (Slo) Bahrain McLaren
DNFFred Wright (GBr) Bahrain McLaren
DNFVincenzo Albanese (Ita) Bardiani CSF Faizane'
DNFNicolas Dalla Valle (Ita) Bardiani CSF Faizane'
DNFIuri Filosi (Ita) Bardiani CSF Faizane'
DNFFilippo Fiorelli (Ita) Bardiani CSF Faizane'
DNFFabio Mazzucco (Ita) Bardiani CSF Faizane'
DNFAlessandro Pessot (Ita) Bardiani CSF Faizane'
DNFAlessandro Tonelli (Ita) Bardiani CSF Faizane'
DNFPeter Sagan (Svk) Bora-Hansgrohe
DNFOscar Gatto (Ita) Bora-Hansgrohe
DNFJonas Koch (Ger) CCC Team
DNFGijs Van Hoecke (Bel) CCC Team
DNFNathan Van Hooydonck (Bel) CCC Team
DNFQuinten Hermans (Bel) Circus-Wanty Gobert
DNFTimothy Dupont (Bel) Circus-Wanty Gobert
DNFFabien Doubey (Fra) Circus-Wanty Gobert
DNFCorne Van Kessel (Ned) Circus-Wanty Gobert
DNFXandro Meurisse (Bel) Circus-Wanty Gobert
DNFPieter Vanspeybrouck (Bel) Circus-Wanty Gobert
DNFSimon Clarke (Aus) EF Pro Cycling
DNFMitchell Docker (Aus) EF Pro Cycling
DNFMagnus Cort Nielsen (Den) EF Pro Cycling
DNFSean Bennett (USA) EF Pro Cycling
DNFMickael Delage (Fra) Groupama-FDJ
DNFKévin Geniets (Lux) Groupama-FDJ
DNFSimon Guglielmi (Fra) Groupama-FDJ
DNFMarc Sarreau (Fra) Groupama-FDJ
DNFLéo Vincent (Fra) Groupama-FDJ
DNFKrists Neilands (Lat) Israel Start-Up Nation
DNFGuillaume Boivin (Can) Israel Start-Up Nation
DNFAlexander Cataford (Can) Israel Start-Up Nation
DNFReto Hollenstein (Swi) Israel Start-Up Nation
DNFNorman Vahtra (Est) Israel Start-Up Nation
DNFJasper De Buyst (Bel) Lotto Soudal
DNFKobe Goossens (Bel) Lotto Soudal
DNFMatthew Holmes (GBr) Lotto Soudal
DNFStefano Oldani (Ita) Lotto Soudal
DNFTosh Van der Sande (Bel) Lotto Soudal
DNFFlorian Vermeersch (Bel) Lotto Soudal
DNFEdoardo Affini (Ita) Mitchelton-Scott
DNFSamuel Bewley (NZl) Mitchelton-Scott
DNFLuke Durbridge (Aus) Mitchelton-Scott
DNFRobert Stannard (Aus) Mitchelton-Scott
DNFDario Cataldo (Ita) Movistar Team
DNFMatteo Jorgenson (USA) Movistar Team
DNFHector Carretero (Spa) Movistar Team
DNFJohan Jacobs (Swi) Movistar Team
DNFEiner Augusto Rubio Reyes (Col) Movistar Team
DNFEduardo Sepulveda (Arg) Movistar Team
DNFDavide Villella (Ita) Movistar Team
DNFSamuele Battistella (Ita) NTT Pro Cycling
DNFMatteo Sobrero (Ita) NTT Pro Cycling
DNFRasmus Tiller (Nor) NTT Pro Cycling
DNFFranck Bonnamour (Fra) Team Arkea-Samsic
DNFBenjamin Declercq (Bel) Team Arkea-Samsic
DNFAnthony Delaplace (Fra) Team Arkea-Samsic
DNFRomain Hardy (Fra) Team Arkea-Samsic
DNFClément Russo (Fra) Team Arkea-Samsic
DNFFlorian Vachon (Fra) Team Arkea-Samsic
DNFOwain Doull (GBr) Team Ineos
DNFGianni Moscon (Ita) Team Ineos
DNFJhonatan Manuel Narvaez Prado (Ecu) Team Ineos
DNFSalvatore Puccio (Ita) Team Ineos
DNFLuke Rowe (GBr) Team Ineos
DNFBen Swift (GBr) Team Ineos
DNFKoen Bouwman (Ned) Team Jumbo-Visma