Strade Bianche 2023 - Live coverage
All the action from the season's most stunning Classic
Hello and welcome to Cyclingnews’ live coverage of the 2023 Strade Bianche elite men's race.
The action is about to kick off on the gravel roads of Tuscany, and with reigning champion Tadej Pogačar absent from the startlist, today will see a new winner crowned.
It's been a week of wet weather in the local area but conditions have dried up for today's race. Read about how conditions could affect the racing here.
Last year's race was memorable not only for the outcome but also for the spectacular crash that saw then World Champion Julian Alaphilippe crash out in dramatic fashion.
The French rider returns to the race with his Soudal-QuickStep team this year for another attempt at the classic which he won in 2019. Read about his ambitions for the day here.
The men's race will be underway shortly. Departing from Siena, the route covers 184km in total, with roughly 63km of that over the famous sterrato, or gravel roads. It finishes with the leg-breaking climb up to the Piazzo del Campo.
Find out how to watch Strade Bianche here.
Last year the race was won by a rampant Tadej Pogačar, who broke away from the leading group to strike out on his own 50km from the finish.
Mathieu Van der Poel returns to Strade Bianche two years after his stunning victory in 2021. His long-time rival Wout Van Aert (Jumbo-Visma) withdrew from the race earlier in the week, though. The Dutch rider for Alpecin-Deceuninck discussed his expectations for the race yesterday.
Ineos Grenadiers' Tom Pidcock returns to the race in good form. A natural favourite to make the final selection, given his strength off-road, Pidcock spoke of his hopes for the race here.
The men's race is underway, and the early attacks have begun, with attempts by riders from Movistar and UAE Team Emirates, among others, to escape the pack.
With two gravel sectors done and dusted, the bunch are still compact, with no breakaway yet established.
160km to go
Sven Erik Bystrøm of Intermarché-Circus-Wanty is obviously feeling good today, he attacks, with Alessandro De Marchi (Team Jayco Alula) for company.
The 19 year old youngster Iván Romeo of Movistar tries his luck and gets a gap to join De Marchi and Bystrøm. They form a trio and have a small gap of 11 seconds over the peloton for now.
63km in total of gravel sectors face the peloton today, including some climbing. To learn more about the challenges ahead of the bunch today, check out the full route preview here.
The trio of riders Romeo, Bystrøm and De Marchi now have a 30 second gap over the bunch, with just under 150km remaining in the race.
150km to go
With the break opening their gap out to a minute, Astana-Qazaqstan and EOLO-Kometa drive the pace in the bunch, and there's a counter attack from Erik Fetter, who is trying to bridge the gap to the front group.
With 140km remaining, the breakaway nurses a minute's lead over the peloton. Erik Fetter is in no-man's land, halfway between the two.
140km to go
The lead group enters gravel sector 4, the two-star rated La Piana. It's 5.5km in length. The breakaway has added a little more to their lead - it's now 1.30 to the bunch, with Erik Fetter 30 seconds behind the leaders.
Our breakaway is composed of three very different riders. Alessandro De Marchi, the Italian veteran, has 6 career wins, including three stages of the Vuelta a España. Sven Erik Bystrøm of Norway has no pro wins to his name outside of the Norwegian national road race in 2020. And Iván Romeo at just 19 years of age rides his first year as a pro this year with Movistar, having previously been a part of the Hagens-Berman-Axeon development squad.
With the gap from the breakaway to the peloton opening out to 1.48, Erik Fetter is looking less likely to make it across - he's currently a minute adrift of the lead group.
130km to go
With four gravel sectors down and seven to go, the breakaway have a comfortable gap now of just over 2 minutes to Erik Fetter, and almost 6 minutes back to the peloton.
120km to go
The three man breakaway works at the head of the race.
Reports coming in of some troubles for Mathieu Van der Poel (Alpecin-Deceuninck) on some of the earlier gravel sectors. He is back with the bunch now.
MVDP in troubles on the first sectors but back on track again pic.twitter.com/PNUFGWrKf2March 4, 2023
The breakaway are onto gravel sector 5, Lucignano D'Asso, and it's a long one - 11.9km to be exact, giving it three-star status. They have amassed a lead of over 6 minutes now to the chasing peloton, with 109km to go.
110km to go
Poor Erik Fetter is probably going to wish he'd stayed in the pack. He continues to languish in no-man's land, almost 3 minutes adrift of the breakaway and the same distance again to the peloton.
With the climb to Montalcino behind them and key sectors approaching, the pace in the peloton picks up. The breakaway could soon begin to see their lead being eroded.
Back in the bunch there's a mechanical issue for Jumbo-Visma rider Gees Leemreize.
As expected, the gap begins to slowly diminish. It's down to 5.46 now, with Erik Fetter soon to be put out of his misery, just under a minute ahead of the peloton. 100km remain.
100km to go
An average speed of 42.2km/h has been measured for the first 100km, suggesting it's not been one of the more frantic editions of the race - presumably we can look forward to an explosive battle as the key competitors have kept their powder dry thus far.
There is just a 1km gap between gravel sectors 5 and 6, meaning it's likely the pressure will begin to increase within the bunch.
Sector 6, the Pieve a Salti, is a challenging four-star segment of 8km in length and could see early attacks from the peloton, and an overall injection of pace.
Fetter is about to be absorbed by the peloton as the pace ramps up - the gap to the breakaway has fallen by another half a minute in the past 10km, and stands at 4.40 to Fetter and 5.16 to the bunch.
90km to go
EF Education-EasyPost are doing the work at the front of the peloton, with Alberto Bettiol keen to assert himself on home soil.
The peloton climbs the tricky 6th gravel sector, driven currently by Groupama-FDJ and Soudal-QuickStep. The bunch is strung out in a long line along the climb. The breakaway's gap has plummeted to 4.23.
The peloton traverses the stunning Tuscan landscape on a beautiful day in Italy.
Back onto the tarmac and the peloton is still strung out, with Groupama-FDJ still very visible at the front of the peloton. They are riding, presumably, for Thibaut Pinot and Valentin Madouas.
The gap has steadied at just over 4 minutes, with just under 80km remaining in the race. Tudor Pro Cycling are showing their faces at the front of the bunch.
80km to go
Problem for Matej Mohoric (Bahrain-Victorious) who swings off to deal with a mechanical issue.
There's a sense of stalemate in the bunch as the riders take a breather and some fuel prior to the next gravel sector. Expect things to kick off again when they hit sector 7, which features 9.5km of uphill gravel.
Trek-Segafredo and Jumbo-Visma take up the chase on the front of the peloton as they approach sector 7. The gap to the breakaway stands at 4.00.
The breakaway begins gravel sector 7, San Martino in Grania, which is rated 5-stars. This is a serious sector with climbing and and 9.5km off-road - expect the attacks to come thick and fast once the peloton arrive, and the gap to drop dramatically.
The pace is furious as the bunch prepare to enter sector 7, with EF Education-EasyPost, Trek-Segafredo and Soudal-QuickStep at the head of the pack.
70km to go
Tension builds in the peloton as the first tentative attacks are launched - Casper Pedersen (Soudal-QuickStep) and Ide Schelling (Bora-Hansgrohe) are the first to put their noses in the wind.
Crosswinds are already playing havoc and two separate crashes occur in the bunch, with Carlos Rodriguez (Ineos Grenadiers) affected and Valentin Madouas (Groupama-FDJ) looking as though his race might be over.
With disaster striking in several places with crashes and mechanicals, the bunch are strung out in a long line along sector 7. The gap to the lead group of three has dropped to just 3.15, with Soudal-QuickStep and EF Education-EasyPost driving the pace up the climb.
The peloton strung out along the gravel roads of Tuscany at Strade Bianche 2023.
65km to go
Trek-Segafredo charge up the climb, with Edward Theuns and Quinn Simmons leading the rest.
Alpecin-Deceuninck show their faces at the front of the chasing pack for the first time today. Mathieu Van der Poel is their leader, attempting for a repeat of his 2021 success.
Slowly the peloton eats into the breakaway's advantage, as they near the end of sector 7. After this they will have around 9km of respite on tarmac and almost all downhill. Then sector 8, a monster at 11.5km, will likely decide the day's selection.
Okay scratch that, despite the tarmac beneath their wheels the riders at the front of the bunch are showing no signs of an entente cordiale before the next gravel challenge. They are looking at each and with the peloton still strung out, there are chances for gaps to appear on the descents.
60km to go
Mechanical for Brandon Rivera of Ineos Grenadiers. 57.5km to go.
The bunch come back together again and it's compact as they prepare for their sternest challenge yet, the 11.5km Monte Sante Marie.
55km to go
The paces winds up once again and the gap to the breakaway is slashed to 2.50 and continues to fall.
The peloton enters sector 8, with Jumbo-Visma, Soudal-QuickStep and Groupama-FDJ leading the charge.
At the front, Iván Romeo drops away from the breakaway. It's been a brave ride by the 19-year-old from Movistar.
Alberto Bettiol (EF Education-EasyPost) is the first to attack, and Andrea Bagioli (Soudal-QuickStep) is able to go with him.
At the back of the bunch there is a brief coming together which luckily doesn't result in a crash.
Tom Pidcock (Ineos Grenadiers) clips off the front to make it a trio, with the two Italians Bettiol and Bagioli, as riders begin to be shelled out the back of the bunch - including Peter Sagan (TotalEnergies).
The chase from the front of the bunch has picked up, and the trio of Pidcock, Bagioli and Bettiol are by no means clear. The gap the breakaway continues to plummet, and now stands at 1.22, with just under 50km remaining.
50km to go
Tom Pidcock uses his incredible descending skills to great effect, rapidly opening out a gap to Bettiol and Bagioli.
The peloton is in pieces and Attila Valter of Jumbo Visma takes the opportunity to make a break for it, with Ineos trying to control the pace in the bunch.
With Pidcock now alone, Valter catches Bettiol and Bagioli and goes straight past them, with Bettiol able to catch onto his wheel. Bagioli looks to be done for now. The bunch are hot on their heels.
The gap is down to 44 seconds.
Matej Mohorič (Bahrain Victorious) leads the chase in the pack.
Pidcock rides in pursuit of the breakaway, just 33 seconds back now. Bettiol chases him, with the lead group from the bunch close behind.
Tom Pidcock is absolutely flying, making the most of the gravel sector to put time into the rest - he has a minute on the peloton, and is within 25 seconds of the two-man break.
45km to go
Pidcock's skill on the gravel descent is next level - his back wheel wobbles but he holds onto it, and he's pushing the pace and consolidating his lead, still a minute ahead of the rest.
There's been a correction in the timing - Pidcock's lead isn't as great as previously stated. He's 10 seconds behind the two-man break and around 25 seconds ahead of the chasing pack.
Pidcock makes the catch. He reaches the lead pair of Sven Erik Bystrøm and Alessandro De Marchi and joins them.
Back in the pack, Mathieu Van der Poel launches an attack.
Pidcock, Bystrøm and De Marchi have 29 seconds lead. Van der Poel's acceleration has caused a split in the bunch and there's some serious hitters in this group including Groupama-FDJ's Lewis Askey and Bahrain Victorious' Matej Mohoric.
40km to go
Andreas Kron flies over the top of the chasing group and gains a few seconds on the rest, with Mohoric and a rider from Groupama-FDJ in hot pursuit.
Crash for Alberto Bettiol - and it doesn't look good. Such a horrible end to the race for the man from EF, on his home roads. Magnus Sheffield (Ineos Grenadiers) is also involved but looks to be OK.
The gap holds for the leading group of 3 to the peloton, with a chasing group in between containing Kron, Bilbao and Gregoire.
It's all happening now, with attacks from Mohoric and Van der Poel - they are all over the road.
Tiesj Benoot (Jumbo-Visma) bridges the gap to the second chasing group and Mathieu Van der Poel looks done for the day - his head has dropped, and he doesn't seem to be in the shape he would have hoped for today.
The lead group of three have opened out their gap a little more, with 39 seconds to the chasers now.
35km to go
Correction - the chasing group of three contains Andreas Kron (Lotto-DSTNY), Valentin Madouas (Groupama-FDJ) and Pello Bilbao (Bahrain-Victorious). They are 23 seconds behind the front group with other chasing groups strung out behind. It's chaos with riders all across the road.
Van der Poel is stuck in a group with four riders who have team mates in more advanced groups - it's an indication that he will receive no help, and looks as though he will struggle to contest the final.
Believe it or not there are still over 30km to go. The action we've seen over the past 20km or so has been breath-taking, and there's still plenty to play out.
Chasing groups two and three merge, and Mohorič looks lively.
Sven Erik Bystrøm's day is done - he drops back from the leading group after a great ride in the breakaway.
30km to go
De Marchi and Pidcock are working well together and have consolidated their lead, with 27 seconds to the chasing group. But there's a lot of firepower in this chase, which numbers 10 riders, including Benoot, Madouas, Mohorič, Simmons, and Rui Costa (UAE Team Emirates).
The leading pair heads into sector 9, and Pidcock immediately kicks off and goes solo.
The chasing group features two riders from Jumbo-Visma (Attila Valter, Tiesj Benoot), Bahrain-Victorious (Matej Mohoric, Pello Bilbao), Groupama-FDJ (Valentin Madouas, Romain Gregoire), and Intermarche-Wanty-Circus (Rui Costa, Sven Erik Bystrøm) along with individual riders from Trek-Segafredo (Quinn Simmons), UAE Team Emirates (Davide Formolo) and Lotto-DSTNY (Andreas Kron).
Attack from Tiesj Benoot! He kicks away from the chasing group and sets off in pursuit of Tom Pidcock, and he quickly carves out a gap to the rest.
Valentin Madouas and Rui Costa are next to go, and they are closing the gap to Benoot. There's a 17-second gap to Pidcock.
20km to go
Whatever the outcome, it's been a bold, audacious ride from the Yorkshireman Tom Pidcock today. He's used his fearless descending and excellent off-road skills to his advantage. Can he hold off the trio of attackers, who are 17 seconds in his deficit?
On the penultimate gravel sector, the chasers are all across the road again, with Madouas driving, and Valter, Simmons and Mohoric catching. Benoot seems unhappy that hi team mate Valter has managed to bring across more chasers.
Pidcock is looking steady as he rides solo with 16.5km remaining. His gap to the chasing group of six is 25 seconds.
Tom Pidcock leads Strade Bianche 2023.
The gap is coming down now, it's just 13 seconds and the two riders from Jumbo-Visma are hanging off the back of the chasing group, with Madouas, Simmons, Mohorič and Costa still looking strong.
15km to go
The Jumbo-Visma pair have made it back to the rest and the gap hangs around 15 seconds. It's poised for an absolutely thrilling finale.
Pidcock hits the final gravel sector, following 17 seconds later by the chasing group of six riders.
Attila Valter attacks from the leading group, dropping his team mate Benoot in the process. The gap is down to 13 seconds.
Pidcock's gap is almost eradicated by the attack of Valter, but the group comes back together again as they come off the gravel, with Benoot making it back on again, although Quinn Simmons is dropped.
Matej Mohorič is next to put the pressure on with an acceleration in the chasing group. The gap hovers at 9 seconds.
10km to go
Five riders chase down Tom Pidcock with just 8km remaining.
Tiesj Benoot attacks again and it looks as though Mohorič is starting to struggle.
The chasing group are beginning to look at one another and with these hesitations, the gap goes back out again. It's edge of the seat stuff here, with Benoot on the attack yet again.
Let's not forget we still have the climb of Piazzo del Campo to go - it's set to be a breath-taking end to this year's edition of Strade Bianche.
It's Valter's turn to go, and while it's only Jumbo Visma with two riders in the chase, there seems to be disagreement as to how to approach the pursuit - once again the hesitation allows Pidcock to claw back a few extra seconds. The gap is back at 23 seconds.
5km to go
With the chasing group not working together and neutralising every attack, Pidcock is in pole position, and going into the descent he's looking good for the win.
The chasing group have snatched collective defeat from the jaws of potential victory. Pidcock passes the Flamme Rouge with a lead of 28 seconds, and the chasing group have settled for a race for second.
Pidcock arrives on the final climb and stamps on the pedals up to Piazzo del Campo, and the crowds roar him up the vicious gradient. Pidcock is about to win Strade Bianche 2023.
Tom Pidcock wins Strade Bianche 2023!
Valentin Madouas is 2nd and Tiesj Benoot 3rd.
Pidcock becomes the first British man to win Strade Bianche.
After 184km, and 11 gravel sectors, the Ineos Grenadiers man from Yorkshire takes the win on his second time of trying.
Tom Pidcock crosses the line on the Piazzo del Campo to win Strade Bianche 2023.
Winner Tom Pidcock:
When I went, that was not the plan, I was just riding hard, I got a gap on the descent and just carried on.
Honestly this week I had a good feeling, I knew something good was going to happen today, I kind of knew today was my day and that it actually paid off is pretty incredible honestly.
A few times they came close and I thought oh I've messed it up, I've gone too early, I've wasted my shot but the thing is in races like this, it was so fast all day, I thought if I get a gap and I keep going it's hard to bring back.
I was hoping for a few more motorbikes in front today!
Tom Pidcock wins Strade Bianche 2023 - read the full race report here.
EF Education-EasyPost boss Jonathan Vaughters confirms Alberto Bettiol is OK following his crash.
Alberto is ok. Back riding.March 4, 2023
Tom Pidcock tops the podium at Strade Bianche 2023.
The podium of Strade Bianche 2023 - Tom Pidcock (Ineos Grenadiers), Valentin Madouas (Groupama-FDJ), and Tiesj Benoot (Jumbo-Visma).
Pidcock and Madouas on the podium.
Thanks for joining us today for a stunning race on the gravel roads of Tuscany, it's been great to have you along - join us again this coming week for all the action at Tirreno-Adriatico and Paris-Nice.
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