Just like last year, edition 2017 of the Strade Bianche starts in arrival town Siena. Riders get on their bikes and leave the ancient town to enter a race with medieval characteristics. In the rolling landscape of Tuscany the toughest sections are on unpaved roads. The first one comes after just 11 kilometres, only 1 kilometre long, but offering a solid way to get warmed up to the hardships ahead.
The day’s first climb coincides with the second sector. It’s the Bagnaia, making its return after the 2014 and 2015 editions. Following two flat to descending stretches of dirt road the Strade Bianche tackles its second climb. This one is on tarmac and leads to the fortified town of Montalcino.
After the drop the longest dust sector lays waiting. Lucignano d’Asso totals 11.9 kilometres on winding roads with fields and forest left and right. Just 1 kilometre of tarmac and then the next gravel sector brings something extra to the mix. At 8 kilometres, it’s a punchy sector taking in both climbing and descending.
The riders are now halfway through the 2017 Strade Bianche. Around 10 kilometres of flat tarmac brings them to the next gravel stretch. At 9.5 kilometers and mostly uphill, this one will weary the legs still further.
The Strade Bianche salutes Fabian Cancellara in sector 8, that’s been renamed in his honour. It is here the endgame begins with the presence of the Monte Sante Marie climb. The sector totals 11.5 kilometres. A good spot to attack as the strip features nasty climbs and descents. But one mistake and you’ll hit the earth.
After the Cancellara sector there are 43 kilometres left to race. On rolling roads the race continues to the last three stretches of unpaved roads. All short, but potentially crucial. Last year Sagan attacked at the penultimate gravel sector – Strade di Colle Pinzuto, 2.4 kilometres with a max grade of 15% – to join lone escapee Brambilla, while Stybar and Cancellara crossed over. In hindsight this proved to be the decisive move.
The last gravel road is a 1.1 kilometre slog, opening with a short descent and closing with the 18% gradients of the Le Tolfe climb. Still 12 kilometres to go. If any escapees are adrift, the winding roads of Tuscany favour the daredevils as chasers will have difficulty pinpointing them.
With 5 kilometres to go the road goes downhill, only to go back up again in the last kilometre. Entering the city walls of Siena, a 16% sector welcomes the riders. Then a sharp turn to the right, left and right again. The finish is at Il Campo, Siena’s famous square.
Strade Bianche 2017: Route maps, height profiles, and more
Click on the images to zoom