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Strade Bianche Women 2022 – Preview

Strade Bianche Women
Strade Bianche Women (Image credit: Getty Images)

The 2022 Women's WorldTour begins along the white gravel roads of Tuscany at Strade Bianche Women held in Siena, Italy on March 5.

With Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race cancelled for a second year in a row, Strade Bianche will mark the first opportunity for a victory and the leader's jersey of the top-tier series.

It will also be the first race of the season where all 14 Women's WorldTeams toe the start line, along with 11 Continental teams. 

Many teams have already begun racing and have flushed out any pre-season nervousness at Vuelta CV Feminas won by Marta Bastianelli (UAE Team ADQ), Setmana Ciclista Feminas won by Annemiek van Vleuten (Movistar), and then at opening weekend's Omloop Het Nieuwsblad also won by Van Vleuten, Omloop van het Hageland also won by Bastianelli, and Le Samyn won by Emma Norsgaard.

However, the stakes are raised for the first round of the top-tier series, and teams will field their best riders capable of contesting for the victory in Siena.

Join Cyclingnews for live coverage of 2022 Strade Bianche, and check in after the race for our full report, results, gallery, news and features.

Strade Bianche Women 2022 - Contenders

Annemiek van Vleuten (Movistar) - Van Vleuten will be looking to open the Women's WorldTour season with a victory, and she's proven to be in great form after winning Setmana Ciclista Valenciana and Omloop Het Nieuwsblad. Although she is not a fan of gravel roads in stage races, she has a no-holds-barred approach to racing on the strade bianche through Tuscany, winning the race on two previous occasions in 2019 and 2020 from long-range attacks.

Elisa Longo Borghini (Trek-Segafredo) - Longo Borghini last won her coveted home race in 2017 and will no doubt want to raise her arms in victory upon entering the Piazza del Campo in Siena. She is the only Italian rider to have won the event, but also stood on the podiums in 2015 and 2018 and 2021. Trek-Segafredo brings a solid team to support her in road World Champion Elisa Balsamo and former cyclo-cross World Champion Lucinda Brand. 

Lotte Kopecky (SD Worx) - Bad luck hampered Kopecky's efforts during Strade Bianche last year, in light of what was otherwise a solid race. She was involved in the late-race attacks, and followed Van Vleuten's attack over the Le Tolfe, but if it wasn't for an untimely puncture that took her out of contention in the closing 12km, she might have finished better than 17th place. Watch for Kopecky to redeem herself in this year's edition.

Kasia Niewiadoma (Canyon-SRAM Racing) - Second in 2016, second in 2017, second in 2018, third in 2019, ninth last year, Niewiadoma is always a contender. This race is an outright target every year for the Canyon-SRAM rider, but she hasn't quite been able to put it all together for the victory. She had one of her best season's last year with multiple podium performance, and with a stronger team to back her up during the races this year, watch for her to take that top step on the podium.

Marta Cavalli (FDJ Nouvelle-Aquitaine Futuroscope) - It's always a toss-up between Cavalli and Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig for the one-day classics because both riders excels on punchy climbs and have the stamina to outlast most of their rivals, and as teammates, they complement each other in the finals. In fact, both riders have shown early-season form finishing first and second overall, behind Van Vleuten, at Setmana Ciclista Valenciana, and both finished in the top 10 at Strade Bianche last year. Like Longo Borghini, however, Cavalli will want to target a home race.

Marianne Vos (Jumbo-Visma) - After winning the cyclo-cross World Championships in January, Vos will make her 2022 road season debut at Strade Bianche. Last year, she was part of the late-race selection. She was then off the front with Van Vleuten but the pair were caught inside the final 10km and she finished seventh behind winner Chantal van den Broek Blaak.

Cyclingnews' will publish a full list of riders to watch soon.

Strade Bianche Women 2022 - Route

The women's 136km race will start at 9:10am CET and include a total of 31.4 kilometres of gravel, before finishing at around 1:00pm CET on the steep ascent at the Piazza del Campo in Siena. 

The route is identical to the last three editions with six steep climbs at Radi, Monteaperti, Vico d'Arbia, Colle Pinzuto Tolfe and Via Santa Caterina.

There are also eight decisive gravel sectors at Vidritta, Bagnaia, Radi, La Piana, S.Martino in Grania, Monteaperti, Colle Pinzuto, and at Le Tolfe.

As the race enters the last kilometre and approaches the centre of Siena, the riders will face a 16 per cent climb to the finish line along Via Santa Caterina.

It begins with a nine per cent gradient with 900 metres to go, and then reaches 10 per cent with 500 metres to go, increasing up to 16 per cent along the Via Santa Caterina.

The slope eases up in the final 300 metres, and then there is a descent followed by a flat run-in to the Piazza del Campo.

The gravel

  • Vidritta, 17.6km  (2.1km)
  • Bagnaia, 25km  (5.8km)
  • Radi, 36.9km (4.4km)
  • La Piana, 47.6km (5.5km) 
  • S.Martino in Grania, 67.5km (9.5km)
  • Monteaperti, 111.3km (0.8km)
  • Colle Pinzuto, 117km (2.4km)
  • Le Tolfe, 123km (1.1km)

The climbs

  • Radi, 32km
  • Monteaperti, 107.7km
  • Vico d'Arbia, 111.3km
  • Colle Pinzuto, 115km
  • Tolfe, 120km
  • Via Santa Caterina (finish)

What to expect

The opening of the Women's WorldTour always sparks excitement for both competitors in the field, and fans watching from the roadsides or on television and live streaming at home.

It helps that Strade Bianche is one of the most anticipated races of the season because of its challenging, and yet breathtaking, route along the gravel roads of Tuscany. 

Although Friday's pending rain showers might dampen the dust along the gravel roads, those who are racing can still expect reasonably nice weather of 10°C with sunny skies on Saturday.

An early-breakaway can be expected, however, traditionally such efforts are put to the test in the last half of the race when attacks really begin. Watch for a winning selection for form over the final few gravel sectors, and an all-out battle for the victory in the final 10km. 

If no one has managed to go solo by this point, then watch for a nail-biting effort up the final steep ascent of the Via Santa Caterina where the winner will emerge at the Piazza del Campo.

Teams

  • FDJ Nouvelle-Aquitaine Futuroscope
  • Team Jumbo-Visma
  • Human Powered Health
  • Roland Cogeas Edelweiss Squad
  • UAE Team ADQ
  • Movistar Team
  • Canyon-SRAM Racing
  • Team DSM
  • Trek - Segafredo
  • Team SD Worx
  • EF Education-TIBCO-SVB
  • Liv Racing Xstra
  • Team BikeExchange - Jayco
  • Uno-X Pro Cycling Team
  • Valcar - Travel & Service
  • Ceratizit-WNT Pro Cycling
  • Parkhotel Valkenburg
  • Plantur-Pura
  • Aromitalia - Basso Bikes - Vaiano
  • Bepink
  • Born To Win G20 Ambedo
  • Isolmant - Premac - Vittoria
  • Servetto - Makhymo - Beltrami TSA
  • Team Mendelspeck
  • Top Girls Fassa Bortolo

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Kirsten Frattini is an honours graduate of Kinesiology and Health Science from York University in Toronto, Canada. She has been involved in cycling from the community and grassroots level to professional cycling's WorldTour. She has worked in both print and digital publishing, and started with Cyclingnews as a North American Correspondent in 2006. Moving into a Production Editor's role in 2014, she produces and publishes international race coverage for all men's and women's races including Spring Classics, Grand Tours, World Championships and Olympic Games, and writes and edits news and features. As the Women's Editor at Cyclingnews, Kirsten also coordinates and oversees the global coverage of races, news, features and podcasts about women's professional cycling.

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