It doesn’t happen often that both strong climbers and Classics specialists are among the favourites in the same race, but the Strade Bianche is a rare exception. The race is famous for its dirt roads, often on sharp climbs, while the finale in Siena is a steep cobbled climb with ramps up to 16%.
So the race is a war of attrition before a finale that would be the tonic to ignite any race.
Given the surface, it is no wonder that (former) cyclocrossers feel at ease in Strade Bianche. Last year’s podium – Alaphilippe, Fuglsang, Van Aert – featured three riders who started their careers competing in the discipline. Another exceptional cyclocross talent, Mathieu van der Poel, will make his debut on this year’s Strade Bianche, obviously aiming to put his cyclocross skills to good use on the strade bianche (white roads) of Tuscany.
It is safe to say Michal Kwiatkowski is the expert when it comes to winning the Strade Bianche. The Pole is the only rider in the peloton to win the race twice, in 2014 and 2017. Other contenders who were victorious in Siena before are Julian Alaphilippe (2019, Tiesj Benoot (2018), Zdenek Stybar (2015) and Philippe Gilbert (2011).
Favourites 2020 Strade Bianche
***** Mathieu van der Poel, Wout Van Aert
**** Julian Alaphilippe, Michal Kwiatkowski, Jakob Fuglsang
*** Tiesj Benoot, Zdenek Stybar, Maximilian Schachmann, Michael Woods
** Simon Clarke, Philippe Gilbert, Peter Sagan, Kasper Asgreen, Dylan Teuns
* Davide Formolo, Alexey Lutsenko, Greg Van Avermaet, Bob Jungels, Gianni Moscon