The winner of last yea skips the Strade Bianche to focus on Paris-Nice. But the winner of 2021, Mathieu van der Poel, who was absent last year, do line-up at the start in Siena.
Dirt roads and relentless climbs are emblematic of the Strade Bianche. The race is gaining prestige every year and it’s an important aim for a variety of riders from a broad church. Michal Kwiatkowski is the only active rider who won the Strade Bianche twice, but that is a while ago – in 2014 en 2017. The Mathieu van der Poel triumph was preceded by and Wout van Aert( 2020), Julian Alaphilippe (2019) and Tiesj Benoot (2018), while Zdenek Stybar was successful on the Piazza del Campo in a more distant past (2015). They all return to the Strade Bianche in a bid to reclaim their title.
While the Strade Bianche is famous for its gravel pitches, the finale in Siena is an attraction in its own right. The steep climb on paving slabs peaks out at 16%. Which is where Mathieu van der Poel left fellow attackers Julian Alaphilippe and Egan Bernal behind in 2021 to enter the Piazza del Campo solo. Van Aert didn’t wait that long in 2020. He attacked on the last climb, the short and steep ramp to El Tolfe, and rode to victory. The Belgian powerhouse will not rider the Strade Bianche either; he begins his road race this monday in the Tirreno-Adriatico.
Favourites 2023 Strade Bianche
**** Mathieu van der Poel, Tim Wellens, Julian Alaphilippe
*** Tom Pidcock, Pello Bilbao, Alberto Bettiol, Tiesj Benoot
** Quinn Simmons, Aleksandr Vlasov, Sergio Higuita, Thibaut Pinot
* Matej Mohoric, Davide Formolo, Alexey Lutsenko, Lennard Kämna