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Mathieu van der Poel wins Strade Bianche

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SIENA ITALY MARCH 06 Arrival Mathieu Van Der Poel of Netherlands and Team AlpecinFenix Celebration during the Eroica 15th Strade Bianche 2021 Mens Elite a 184km race from Siena to Siena Piazza del Campo StradeBianche on March 06 2021 in Siena Italy Photo by Tim de WaeleGetty Images

(Image credit: Getty Images Sport)
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SIENA ITALY MARCH 06 Arrival Mathieu Van Der Poel of Netherlands and Team AlpecinFenix Celebration during the Eroica 15th Strade Bianche 2021 Mens Elite a 184km race from Siena to Siena Piazza del Campo StradeBianche on March 06 2021 in Siena Italy Photo by Tim de WaeleGetty Images

Mathieu van der Poel (Alpecin-Fenix) becomes first Dutchman to win Strade Bianche (Image credit: Getty Images Sport)
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SIENA ITALY MARCH 06 Mathieu Van Der Poel of Netherlands and Team AlpecinFenix Julian Alaphilippe of France and Team Deceuninck QuickStep Egan Arley Bernal Gomez of Colombia and Team INEOS Grenadiers during the Eroica 15th Strade Bianche 2021 Mens Elite a 184km race from Siena to Siena Piazza del Campo Breakaway StradeBianche on March 06 2021 in Siena Italy Photo by Luc ClaessenGetty Images

Mathieu van der Poel charges ahead of Julian Alaphilippe on 18 per cent gradient to finish in Siena (Image credit: Getty Images Sport)
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SIENA ITALY MARCH 06 Julian Alaphilippe of France and Team Deceuninck QuickStep during the Eroica 15th Strade Bianche 2021 Mens Elite a 184km race from Siena to Siena Piazza del Campo StradeBianche on March 06 2021 in Siena Italy Photo by Luc ClaessenGetty Images

Julian Alaphilippe charging to second-place finish in Siena (Image credit: Getty Images Sport)
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SIENA, ITALY - MARCH 06: Arrival / Julian Alaphilippe of France and Team Deceuninck - Quick-Step during the Eroica - 15th Strade Bianche 2021, Men's Elite a 184km race from Siena to Siena - Piazza del Campo / #StradeBianche / on March 06, 2021 in Siena, Italy. (Photo by Tim de Waele/Getty Images)

Second place for Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck-QuickStep) (Image credit: Getty Images Sport)
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SIENA ITALY MARCH 06 Arrival Egan Arley Bernal Gomez of Colombia and Team INEOS Grenadiers during the Eroica 15th Strade Bianche 2021 Mens Elite a 184km race from Siena to Siena Piazza del Campo StradeBianche on March 06 2021 in Siena Italy Photo by Tim de WaeleGetty Images

Third place finish in Siena for Egan Bernal (Ineos Grenadiers) (Image credit: Getty Images Sport)
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SIENA ITALY MARCH 06 Mathieu Van Der Poel of Netherlands and Team AlpecinFenix Quinn Simmons of United States and Team Trek Segafredo Wout Van Aert of Belgium and Team Jumbo Visma Julian Alaphilippe of France and Team Deceuninck QuickStep during the Eroica 15th Strade Bianche 2021 Mens Elite a 184km race from Siena to Siena Piazza del Campo Breakaway Gravel Strokes Dust StradeBianche on March 06 2021 in Siena Italy Photo by Tim de WaeleGetty Images

Select group includes Mathieu van der Poel of Alpecin-Fenix, Quinn Simmons of Trek-Segafredo, Wout Van Aert of Jumbo-Visma and at front Julian Alaphilippe of Deceuninck-QuickStep (Image credit: Getty Images Sport)
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SIENA ITALY MARCH 06 Davide Formolo of Italy and UAE Team Emirates during the Eroica 15th Strade Bianche 2021 Mens Elite a 184km race from Siena to Siena Piazza del Campo Gravel Strokes Dust StradeBianche on March 06 2021 in Siena Italy Photo by Tim de WaeleGetty Images

Davide Formolo of UAE Team Emirates during the 184km race (Image credit: Getty Images Sport)
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SIENA ITALY MARCH 06 The Peloton passing through Tuscany landscape during the Eroica 15th Strade Bianche 2021 Mens Elite a 184km race from Siena to Siena Piazza del Campo Gravel Strokes StradeBianche on March 06 2021 in Siena Italy Photo by Tim de WaeleGetty Images

Clear skies for 2021 Strade Bianche (Image credit: Getty Images Sport)
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SIENA ITALY MARCH 06 Tadej Pogacar of Slovenia and UAE Team Emirates Julian Alaphilippe of France and Team Deceuninck QuickStep Mathieu Van Der Poel of Netherlands and Team AlpecinFenix during the Eroica 15th Strade Bianche 2021 Mens Elite a 184km race from Siena to Siena Piazza del Campo Breakaway Gravel Strokes Dust StradeBianche on March 06 2021 in Siena Italy Photo by Tim de WaeleGetty Images

Julian Alaphilippe in front of lead group (Image credit: Getty Images Sport)
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SIENA ITALY MARCH 06 Kasper Asgreen of Denmark and Team Deceuninck QuickStep Gianluca Brambilla of Italy and Team Trek Segafredo during the Eroica 15th Strade Bianche 2021 Mens Elite a 184km race from Siena to Siena Piazza del Campo Breakaway Gravel Strokes Dust StradeBianche on March 06 2021 in Siena Italy Photo by Tim de WaeleGetty Images

Kasper Asgreen of Deceuninck-QuickStep and Gianluca Brambilla of Trek-Segafredo (Image credit: Getty Images Sport)
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SIENA ITALY MARCH 06 The Peloton passing through Tuscany landscape during the Eroica 15th Strade Bianche 2021 Mens Elite a 184km race from Siena to Siena Piazza del Campo Gravel Strokes StradeBianche on March 06 2021 in Siena Italy Photo by Tim de WaeleGetty Images

15th Strade Bianche rolls across Siena terrain (Image credit: Getty Images Sport)
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SIENA ITALY MARCH 06 Alex Howes of United States and Team EF Education Nippo during the Eroica 15th Strade Bianche 2021 Mens Elite a 184km race from Siena to Siena Piazza del Campo StradeBianche on March 06 2021 in Siena Italy Photo by Tim de WaeleGetty Images

Alex Howes of EF Education-Nippo in peloton (Image credit: Getty Images Sport)
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SIENA ITALY MARCH 06 Strade Bianche Boundary marker stone during the Eroica 15th Strade Bianche 2021 Mens Elite a 184km race from Siena to Siena Piazza del Campo Gravel Strokes Landscape Fans Public StradeBianche on March 06 2021 in Siena Italy Photo by Tim de WaeleGetty Images

2021 Strade Bianche has clear weather (Image credit: Getty Images Sport)
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SIENA ITALY MARCH 06 Kevin Geniets of Luxembourg and Team Groupama FDJ Quinn Simmons of United States and Team Trek Segafredo Julian Alaphilippe of France and Team Deceuninck QuickStep during the Eroica 15th Strade Bianche 2021 Mens Elite a 184km race from Siena to Siena Piazza del Campo Gravel Strokes Breakaway Dust StradeBianche on March 06 2021 in Siena Italy Photo by Tim de WaeleGetty Images

Kevin Geniets of Groupama-FDJ and Quinn Simmons of rek-Segafredo trail Julian Alaphilippe of Deceuninck-QuickStep (Image credit: Getty Images Sport)
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SIENA ITALY MARCH 06 Wout Van Aert of Belgium and Team Jumbo Visma Thomas Pidcock of United Kingdom Egan Arley Bernal Gomez of Colombia and Team INEOS Grenadiers Michael Gogl of Austria and Team Qhubeka Assos during the Eroica 15th Strade Bianche 2021 Mens Elite a 184km race from Siena to Siena Piazza del Campo Gravel Strokes Breakaway Dust StradeBianche on March 06 2021 in Siena Italy Photo by Tim de WaeleGetty Images

Wout van Aert leads Tom Pidcock in lead group (Image credit: Getty Images Sport)
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SIENA ITALY MARCH 06 Julian Alaphilippe of France and Team Deceuninck QuickStep Wout Van Aert of Belgium and Team Jumbo Visma during the Eroica 15th Strade Bianche 2021 Mens Elite a 184km race from Siena to Siena Piazza del Campo Gravel Strokes Breakaway Dust StradeBianche on March 06 2021 in Siena Italy Photo by Tim de WaeleGetty Images

Julian Alaphilippe of Deceuninck-QuickStep drives pace at front of lead group (Image credit: Getty Images Sport)
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SIENA ITALY MARCH 06 Julian Alaphilippe of France and Team Deceuninck QuickStep Wout Van Aert of Belgium and Team Jumbo Visma Kevin Geniets of Luxembourg and Team Groupama FDJ Quinn Simmons of United States and Team Trek Segafredo Greg Van Avermaet of Belgium and AG2R Citren Team Egan Arley Bernal Gomez of Colombia and Team INEOS Grenadiers during the Eroica 15th Strade Bianche 2021 Mens Elite a 184km race from Siena to Siena Piazza del Campo StradeBianche on March 06 2021 in Siena Italy Photo by Tim de WaeleGetty Images

Front group heads to Siena with Julian Alaphilippe of Deceuninck-QuickStep, Wout Van Aert of Jumbo-Visma, Kevin Geniets of Groupama-FDJ, Quinn Simmons of Trek-Segafredo and Greg Van Avermaet of AG2R Citren Team (Image credit: Getty Images Sport)
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SIENA ITALY MARCH 06 Egan Arley Bernal Gomez of Colombia and Team INEOS Grenadiers Tadej Pogacar of Slovenia and UAE Team Emirates Wout Van Aert of Belgium and Team Jumbo Visma Julian Alaphilippe of France and Team Deceuninck QuickStep during the Eroica 15th Strade Bianche 2021 Mens Elite a 184km race from Siena to Siena Piazza del Campo Breakaway StradeBianche on March 06 2021 in Siena Italy Photo by Tim de WaeleGetty Images

Egan Bernal of Ineos Grenadiers is the only Colombian in the race (Image credit: Getty Images Sport)
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SIENA ITALY MARCH 06 Mathieu Van Der Poel of Netherlands and Team AlpecinFenix Julian Alaphilippe of France and Team Deceuninck QuickStep Egan Arley Bernal Gomez of Colombia and Team INEOS Grenadiers during the Eroica 15th Strade Bianche 2021 Mens Elite a 184km race from Siena to Siena Piazza del Campo Dust Gravel Strokes Attack StradeBianche on March 06 2021 in Siena Italy Photo by Tim de WaeleGetty Images

(Image credit: Getty Images Sport)
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SIENA ITALY MARCH 06 Simon Carr of United Kingdom and Team EF Education Nippo Simon Clarke of Australia and Team Qhubeka Assos Jakob Fuglsang of Denmark and Team Astana Premier Tech during the Eroica 15th Strade Bianche 2021 Mens Elite a 184km race from Siena to Siena Piazza del Campo StradeBianche on March 06 2021 in Siena Italy Photo by Tim de WaeleGetty Images

(Image credit: Getty Images Sport)
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SIENA ITALY MARCH 06 Andreas Lorentz Kron of Denmark and Team Lotto Soudal Gonzalo Serrano of Spain and Movistar Team Gianni Vermeersch of Belgium and Team AlpecinFenix The Peloton passing through Tuscany landscape during the Eroica 15th Strade Bianche 2021 Mens Elite a 184km race from Siena to Siena Piazza del Campo Gravel Strokes Dust Landscape StradeBianche on March 06 2021 in Siena Italy Photo by Tim de WaeleGetty Images

Strade Bianche featured 63km of gravel on the 184km route (Image credit: Getty Images Sport)
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SIENA ITALY MARCH 06 Mathieu Van Der Poel of Netherlands and Team AlpecinFenix Julian Alaphilippe of France and Team Deceuninck QuickStep Egan Arley Bernal Gomez of Colombia and Team INEOS Grenadiers during the Eroica 15th Strade Bianche 2021 Mens Elite a 184km race from Siena to Siena Piazza del Campo Dust Gravel Strokes Attack StradeBianche on March 06 2021 in Siena Italy Photo by Tim de WaeleGetty Images

Mathieu van der Poel (Alpecin-Fenix) makes acceleration with 3km to go (Image credit: Getty Images Sport)
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SIENA ITALY MARCH 06 Simon Carr of United Kingdom and Team EF Education Nippo Simon Clarke of Australia and Team Qhubeka Assos Jakob Fuglsang of Denmark and Team Astana Premier Tech during the Eroica 15th Strade Bianche 2021 Mens Elite a 184km race from Siena to Siena Piazza del Campo StradeBianche on March 06 2021 in Siena Italy Photo by Tim de WaeleGetty Images

Small group chasing leaders included Simon Carr of EF Education-Nippo, Simon Clarke of Team Qhubeka Assos, Jakob Fuglsang of Astana-Premier Tech (Image credit: Getty Images Sport)
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SIENA ITALY MARCH 06 Podium Mathieu Van Der Poel of Netherlands and Team AlpecinFenix Egan Arley Bernal Gomez of Colombia and Team INEOS Grenadiers Celebration during the Eroica 15th Strade Bianche 2021 Mens Elite a 184km race from Siena to Siena Piazza del Campo Trophy Champagne Mask Covid Safety Measures StradeBianche on March 06 2021 in Siena Italy Photo by Tim de WaeleGetty Images

Winner Mathieu van der Poel celebrates with third-place finisher Egan Bernal (Image credit: Getty Images Sport)
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SIENA ITALY MARCH 06 Podium Mathieu Van Der Poel of Netherlands and Team AlpecinFenix Celebration during the Eroica 15th Strade Bianche 2021 Mens Elite a 184km race from Siena to Siena Piazza del Campo Trophy Mask Covid Safety Measures StradeBianche on March 06 2021 in Siena Italy Photo by Tim de WaeleGetty Images

Mathieu van der Poel with trophy at Strade Bianche (Image credit: Getty Images Sport)
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SIENA ITALY MARCH 06 Podium Julian Alaphilippe of France and Team Deceuninck QuickStep Celebration during the Eroica 15th Strade Bianche 2021 Mens Elite a 184km race from Siena to Siena Piazza del Campo Trophy Mask Covid Safety Measures StradeBianche on March 06 2021 in Siena Italy Photo by Tim de WaeleGetty Images

Julian Alaphilippe of Deceuninck-QuickStep on the podium with second place (Image credit: Getty Images Sport)
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SIENA, ITALY - MARCH 06: Greg Van Avermaet of Belgium and AG2R Citröen Team, Romain Bardet of France and Team DSM & Bauke Mollema of Netherlands and Team Trek - Segafredo during the Eroica - 15th Strade Bianche 2021, Men's Elite a 184km race from Siena to Siena - Piazza del Campo / #StradeBianche / on March 06, 2021 in Siena, Italy. (Photo by Luc Claessen/Getty Images)

Bunch in final climb are Greg Van Avermaet of AG2R Citroen Team, Romain Bardet of Team DSM, Bauke Mollema of Trek-Segafredo (Image credit: Getty Images Sport)
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SIENA ITALY MARCH 06 Jakob Fuglsang of Denmark and Team Astana Premier Tech Simon Clarke of Australia and Team Qhubeka Assos during the Eroica 15th Strade Bianche 2021 Mens Elite a 184km race from Siena to Siena Piazza del Campo StradeBianche on March 06 2021 in Siena Italy Photo by Luc ClaessenGetty Images

Jakob Fuglsang of Denmark and Team Astana -Premier Tech and Simon Clarke of Australia and Team Qhubeka Assos make final ascent (Image credit: Getty Images Sport)
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SIENA, ITALY - MARCH 06: Tadej Pogacar of Slovenia and UAE Team Emirates & Thomas Pidcock of United Kingdom and Team INEOS Grenadiers during the Eroica - 15th Strade Bianche 2021, Men's Elite a 184km race from Siena to Siena - Piazza del Campo / #StradeBianche / on March 06, 2021 in Siena, Italy. (Photo by Luc Claessen/Getty Images)

Tadej Pogacar climbs to seventh place finish (Image credit: Getty Images Sport)
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SIENA ITALY MARCH 06 Thomas Pidcock of United Kingdom and Team INEOS Grenadiers during the Eroica 15th Strade Bianche 2021 Mens Elite a 184km race from Siena to Siena Piazza del Campo StradeBianche on March 06 2021 in Siena Italy Photo by Luc ClaessenGetty Images

Tom Pidcock finishes fifth (Image credit: Getty Images Sport)
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SIENA ITALY MARCH 06 Michael Gogl of Austria and Team Qhubeka Assos during the Eroica 15th Strade Bianche 2021 Mens Elite a 184km race from Siena to Siena Piazza del Campo StradeBianche on March 06 2021 in Siena Italy Photo by Luc ClaessenGetty Images

Michael Gogl of Team Qhubeka Assos would finish sixth (Image credit: Getty Images Sport)
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SIENA ITALY MARCH 06 Podium Julian Alaphilippe of France and Team Deceuninck QuickStep Mathieu Van Der Poel of Netherlands and Team AlpecinFenix Egan Arley Bernal Gomez of Colombia and Team INEOS Grenadiers Celebration during the Eroica 15th Strade Bianche 2021 Mens Elite a 184km race from Siena to Siena Piazza del Campo Trophy Champagne Mask Covid Safety Measures StradeBianche on March 06 2021 in Siena Italy Photo by Tim de WaeleGetty Images

Final podium celebration (Image credit: Getty Images Sport)
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SIENA ITALY MARCH 06 Egan Arley Bernal Gomez of Colombia and Team INEOS Grenadiers Wout Van Aert of Belgium and Team Jumbo Visma during the Eroica 15th Strade Bianche 2021 Mens Elite a 184km race from Siena to Siena Piazza del Campo Gravel Strokes Fans Public StradeBianche on March 06 2021 in Siena Italy Photo by Tim de WaeleGetty Images

Egan Bernal (Ineos Grenadiers) along one of final three gravel sections (Image credit: Getty Images Sport)
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SIENA ITALY MARCH 06 The Peloton passing through a gravel strokes sector during the Eroica 15th Strade Bianche 2021 Mens Elite a 184km race from Siena to Siena Piazza del Campo Dust Landscape Tuscany StradeBianche on March 06 2021 in Siena Italy Photo by Tim de WaeleGetty Images

Dry weather helped kick up the dust on the white gravel roads (Image credit: Getty Images Sport)
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SIENA ITALY MARCH 06 Samuele Rivi of Italy and EoloKometa Cycling Team during the Eroica 15th Strade Bianche 2021 Mens Elite a 184km race from Siena to Siena Piazza del Campo Mechanical Problem Breakaway StradeBianche on March 06 2021 in Siena Italy Photo by Tim de WaeleGetty Images

Italian Samuele Rivi of Eolo Kometa Cycling Team had struggles on course (Image credit: Getty Images Sport)
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SIENA ITALY MARCH 06 The Peloton passing through Tuscany landscape during the Eroica 15th Strade Bianche 2021 Mens Elite a 184km race from Siena to Siena Piazza del Campo Gravel Strokes Sheep Fans Public StradeBianche on March 06 2021 in Siena Italy Photo by Tim de WaeleGetty Images

Peloton descends on one section of gravel, which totaled one-third of route (Image credit: Getty Images Sport)
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SIENA ITALY MARCH 06 Philipp Walsleben of Germany and Team AlpecinFenix Simone Bevilacqua of Italy and Team Vini Zabu Brado KTM Kevin Ledanois of France and Team Arkea Samsic during the Eroica 15th Strade Bianche 2021 Mens Elite a 184km race from Siena to Siena Piazza del Campo Breakaway Gravel Strokes Landscape StradeBianche on March 06 2021 in Siena Italy Photo by Tim de WaeleGetty Images

Riders begin an ascent on 63km of gravel (Image credit: Getty Images Sport)

Mathieu van der Poel (Alpecin-Fenix) won Strade Bianche after an intense battle between the biggest names in the sport on the dirt roads of Tuscany.

Van der Poel attacked on the final dirt sector at Le Tolfe dirt sector, where only Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck-QuickStep) and Egan Bernal (Ineos Grenadiers) were able to go with him.

The Dutch champion then attacked and dropped them on the Via Santa Caterina climb into the heart Siena to win alone on the Piazza del Campo.

2020 winner Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma) was distanced with 23km to go and though he fought back up on the Colle Pinzuto, he was then unable to go with Van der Poel, Alaphilippe and Bernal’s decisive move.

Van Aert eventually finished fourth at 51 seconds. Tom Pidcock (Ineos Grenadiers) was an impressive fifth just behind him, with Michael Gogl (Qhubeka Assos) sixth and Tadej Pogacar (UAE Team Emirates) seventh at 54 seconds. Van der Poel, however, has struck the first blow in what promises to be a superb Spring of racing.

“Strade is one of the races I really wanted to win, and it’s really cool to win it today,” van der Poel said.

“I felt really good, I launched an attack at the last gravel section, and I came with Bernal and Alaphilippe in the lead and we did a pretty strong ride with the three of us.

“I felt I had something left in the legs to go all out on the last climb. It’s amazing to finish it off this way.”

How it unfolded

The men arrived in Siena for the start of their 184km race just after the women rolled out for their race, happy to see the sun warming the air and the roads dry. It was a perfect Tuscan spring day for a race on the dirt roads.

With Siena in a red zone due to a high number of COVID-9 cases, riders rode to the start area wearing masks and were rightly cautious about any close contacts.

The peloton rolled out of the Fortezza at 11:40 and descended from central Siena south into the Tuscan countryside. There was a high pace but no real attacks in the opening 30km.

Philipp Walsleben (Alpecin-Fenix), Kévin Ledanois (Arkéa-Samsic) and Simone Bevilacqua (Vini Zabù) were the first to move on dirt road sector 2, and they were eventually joined Simone Petilli (Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert), Samuele Zoccarato (Bardiani-CSF), Tosh van der Sande (Lotto Soudal), Samuele Rivi (Eolo-Kometa) and Filippo Tagliani (Androni-Sidermec).

Those eight riders pushed out their lead to over three minutes as the race headed south and climbed up to Montalcino, but the peloton soon reacted, with Jumbo-Visma taking up the chase as the 11.9km Lucignano d'Asso dirt sector neared. An indication of the high speed in the peloton was a nasty crash that involved American champion Alex Howes (EF Education-Nippo), who was one of three riders left sitting on the roadside.

Sector six at Pieve a Salti comes just a kilometre after the Lucignano d'Asso sector and together they sparked a clear shake-out in the peloton and in the break, leaving only five riders a minute clear of the peloton.

The smooth main road to Buonconvento with 80km to go often marks a moment of truce only for the racing to explode on dirt road sector 7 at San Martino di Granaia. Indeed, the peloton eased to take on food and drinks and so Rudy Molard (Groupama-FDJ) and Loic Vliegen (Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert) jumped across to the break. However, the peloton accelerated again as they fought for position before the San Martino in Grania sector. The speed closed down the race and Vliegen was the last of the escapees to be caught here as the teams prepared for the finale of the race.

Monte Sante Marie marks a turning point

A group of 16 riders, including Greg Van Avermaet (AG2R Citroen) and Quinn Simmons (Trek-Segafedo) edged clear on a climb after the San Martino in Grania sector, trying to get ahead of any major attacks, with Kasper Asgreen on hand to protect Alaphilippe’s interests.

As the Monte Sante Marie sector neared, Jumbo-Visma carefully moved Van Aert up to the front and led onto the key 11.5km sector. Simmons was the only rider to stay out front as Jumbo-Visma closed the gap. He was caught at the top of the early steep climb during Monte Santa Maria and so was well-placed among the big-name favourites.

Van Aert looked strong, as did Alaphillipe, while Van der Poel was focused on making an effort to move up near the front. He was in the right place by the time the race exploded with 50km to go under a huge surge from Alaphilippe on Monte Sante Marie. 

Fuglsang struggled and missed the move but Van Aert, Alaphilippe, Van der Poel, Egan Bernal and Tom Pidcock (Ineos Grenadiers), Simmons, Michael Gogl (Qhubeka-Assos), Tadej Pogacar (UAE Team Emirates) were all there. The cream had risen to the top.

After Monte Sante Marie they had a gap of 25 seconds, with the cross winds across the hill tops making the racing extra hard. Petr Vakoc, Gianni Veermersch (Alpecin-Fenix), Pello Bilbao (Bahrain), Simon Carr (EF Education -Nippo), Tim Wellens (Lotto Soudal), Fuglsang (Astana-Premier Tech) Rob Power and Simon Clarke (Qhubeka-Assos) were in the chasing group.

Simmons was unfortunate to puncture with 40km on the asphalt. He was able to stay in the attack, but with his team car delayed behind several chase groups, he had to take a wheel change from the Shimano neutral service. He lost at least 30 seconds and was lucky to get back into the chase group. However, a crash with another rider on a fast corner eventually ended his race.

 

Van der Poel's grand finale

The long asphalt sector on the road west towards Siena and the final three dirt sectors again sparked a moment of quiet as the leaders took on board some final food and thought of their tactics for the finish. The chasers stayed close, at just 20 seconds, but couldn’t close the gap, sparking some frustrated arm waving from Fuglsang.

The final three sectors of Monteaperti, Colle Pinzuto and Le Tolfe are short but include steep sectors and often expose the weakest riders. Nobody expected Van Aert to suffer but he did so massively when Alaphilippe accelerated over the top of the Monteaperti sector.

Last year’s winner seemed shocked and was unable to respond to the surge. Alaphilippe, Van der Poel, Bernal, Gogl, Pogacar could hardly believe their luck and upped the pace on the fast asphalt road to Colle Pinzuto. 

However, Van Aert did not panic and most of all did not give up. As they climbed up to the vineyards of Colle Pinzuto, he slowly closed down the gap and joined the front of the race again, with Pidcock also managing to make it across. There were again seven riders up front in a very elite group with just one dirt sector left to race.

The chasers had lost ground and slipped to more than a minute behind, allowing the team cars to pass and go up to their leaders.

Van Aert cleverly led the attack onto the Tolfe sector, trying to set a steady pace. It worked for a while but as the gradient touched 18 per cent, he struggled and Van der Poel launched a searing attack. He got a gap but Alaphilippe and then Bernal managed to get across to him. Van Aert, Gogl, Pidcock and Pogacar formed a chase group, but despite Van Aert’s efforts, they lost time all the way to Siena.   

Van der Poel led the trio onto the Via Santa Caterina climb up to central Siena. That exposed him to attacks from behind, but he gradually upped the pace and then decided to attack first.

Using his power, speed and intensity, honed in cyclo-cross, he soon opened a gap on the steepest part of the climb. Bernal threw in the towel and had no reaction, while Alaphilippe could only try to limit his losses.

By the time van der Poel descended into the Piazza del Campo, he was five seconds clear and had time to celebrate by punching the air several times.

Full Results
Pos.Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Mathieu van der Poel (Ned) Alpecin-Fenix 4:40:29
2Julian Alaphilippe (Fra) Deceuninck-QuickStep 0:00:05
3Egan Bernal Gomez (Col) Ineos Grenadiers 0:00:20
4Wout Van Aert (Bel) Jumbo-Visma 0:00:51
5Thomas Pidcock (GBr) Ineos Grenadiers 0:00:54
6Michael Gogl (Aut) Team Qhubeka Assos
7Tadej Pogacar (Slo) UAE Team Emirates
8Simon Clarke (Aus) Team Qhubeka Assos 0:02:25
9Jakob Fuglsang (Den) Astana-Premier Tech
10Pello Bilbao Lopez De Armentia (Spa) Bahrain Victorious 0:02:39
11Simon Carr (GBr) EF Education-Nippo 0:03:36
12Rob Power (Aus) Team Qhubeka Assos 0:03:45
13Tim Wellens (Bel) Lotto Soudal 0:04:19
14Gianni Vermeersch (Bel) Alpecin-Fenix 0:04:21
15Petr Vakoc (Cze) Alpecin-Fenix 0:04:26
16Kévin Geniets (Lux) Groupama-FDJ 0:04:30
17Davide Ballerini (Ita) Deceuninck-QuickStep 0:05:12
18Samuele Rivi (Ita) Eolo-Kometa Cycling Team
19Tosh Van Der Sande (Bel) Lotto Soudal
20Clement Venturini (Fra) AG2R Citroën Team 0:06:26
21Bauke Mollema (Ned) Trek-Segafredo
22Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) AG2R Citroën Team
23Romain Bardet (Fra) Team DSM
24Valentin Madouas (Fra) Groupama-FDJ 0:06:30
25Alex Aranburu Deba (Spa) Astana-Premier Tech 0:06:32
26Alberto Bettiol (Ita) EF Education-Nippo
27Davide Formolo (Ita) UAE Team Emirates
28Kasper Asgreen (Den) Deceuninck-QuickStep
29Andrea Vendrame (Ita) AG2R Citroën Team 0:06:39
30Owain Doull (GBr) Ineos Grenadiers
31Andreas Kron (Den) Lotto Soudal
32Ivan Garcia Cortina (Spa) Movistar Team
33Robert Stannard (Aus) Team BikeExchange
34Stefan Küng (Swi) Groupama-FDJ 0:06:43
35Patrick Konrad (Aut) Bora-Hansgrohe
36Gianluca Brambilla (Ita) Trek-Segafredo
37Lorenzo Rota (Ita) Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux
38Nans Peters (Fra) AG2R Citroën Team
39Rudy Molard (Fra) Groupama-FDJ
40João Almeida (Por) Deceuninck-QuickStep 0:06:48
41Filippo Zana (Ita) Bardiani CSF Faizane'
42Simon Guglielmi (Fra) Groupama-FDJ
43Emanuel Buchmann (Ger) Bora-Hansgrohe 0:06:51
44Mauro Schmid (Swi) Team Qhubeka Assos
45Vegard Stake Laengen (Nor) UAE Team Emirates
46Hermann Pernsteiner (Aut) Bahrain Victorious
47Brent Bookwalter (USA) Team BikeExchange 0:06:59
48Toms Skujins (Lat) Trek-Segafredo 0:07:04
49Tobias Foss (Nor) Jumbo-Visma
50Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar Team
51Luis Mas Bonet (Spa) Movistar Team
52Gonzalo Serrano Rodriguez (Spa) Movistar Team
53Gorka Izagirre Insausti (Spa) Astana-Premier Tech
54Hugo Houle (Can) Astana-Premier Tech
55Michael Schär (Swi) AG2R Citroën Team 0:07:19
56Daniel Oss (Ita) Bora-Hansgrohe 0:07:23
57Quinn Simmons (USA) Trek-Segafredo 0:07:28
58Giovanni Aleotti (Ita) Bora-Hansgrohe 0:07:48
59Matej Mohoric (Slo) Bahrain Victorious 0:08:49
60Diego Rosa (Ita) Team Arkea-Samsic 0:10:21
61Jan Polanc (Slo) UAE Team Emirates
62Alessandro De Marchi (Ita) Israel Start-up Nation 0:10:25
63Christopher Juul-Jensen (Den) Team BikeExchange 0:10:40
64Brent Van Moer (Bel) Lotto Soudal 0:10:44
65Zdenek Stybar (Cze) Deceuninck-QuickStep 0:11:08
66Simon Yates (GBr) Team BikeExchange 0:11:48
67Romain Seigle (Fra) Groupama-FDJ 0:11:57
68Jan Bakelants (Bel) Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux 0:12:54

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