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Strade Bianche

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Strade Bianche
2024 Strade Bianche
Race details
DateEarly March
RegionTuscany, Italy
Nickname(s)Europe's southernmost northern classic[1]
CompetitionUCI World Tour
OrganiserRCS Sport
Race directorMauro Vegni
Web sitewww.strade-bianche.it Edit this at Wikidata
First edition2007 (2007)
Editions18 (as of 2024)
First winner Alexandr Kolobnev (RUS)
Most wins Fabian Cancellara (SUI) (3 wins)
Most recent Tadej Pogačar (SLO)

The Strade Bianche (pronounced [ˈstrade ˈbjaŋke]) is a road bicycle race in Tuscany, Central Italy, starting and finishing in Siena. First held in 2007, it is raced annually on the first or second Saturday of March. The name Strade Bianche (Italian for White Roads) stems from the historic white gravel roads in the Crete Senesi, which are a defining feature of the race. One-third of the total race distance is raced on dirt roads, covering 63 km (39 mi) of strade bianche, spread over 11 sectors.[2]

Despite its short history, the Strade Bianche has quickly gained prestige, and renewed interest in road racing on gravel and dirt roads as a specific skill and discipline.[3] The event is part of the UCI World Tour, cycling's highest level of professional road races.[4][5] It is organized by RCS SportLa Gazzetta dello Sport, and is held the weekend before Tirreno–Adriatico as an early spring precursor to the cobbled classics in April. Swiss Fabian Cancellara holds the record with three wins. Also a three-time winner over the pavé of Paris–Roubaix and the cobbled Hilligen of Tour of Flanders, Cancellara rejected comparisons between the races, believing the "white roads" of the Strade "deserved appreciation in their own right".[6][7] Thibaut Pinot described it as "the sixth Monument" of Classic road cycling because of its unique parcours, difficulty and prestige.[7]

Since 2015, there has been a women's race, the Strade Bianche Donne, serving as the opening event of the UCI Women's World Tour. It is held on the same day as the men's race, on the same roads but at a shorter distance. Both events start and finish in Siena.[8]


Monte Paschi Eroica[edit]

L'Eroica Strade Bianche ("Heroic race of the white roads") was created in 1997 as a granfondo (recreational bike race) for vintage bikes only, on the white gravel roads around Siena,[9] an event that is still held on the day after the professional race.[10] The concept was to recreate cycling's so-called "heroic era" from the first half of the 20th century, when most bike races were ridden on dirt or unpaved roads.[11]

Eroica 2008 Finish
Fabian Cancellara won the 2008 Monte Paschi Eroica in a two-man sprint with Alessandro Ballan in Siena.

In 2007, a professional race was spun off the event, inaugurally called Monte Paschi Eroica, won by Russian Alexandr Kolobnev. The race was held on 9 October; it started in Gaiole in Chianti and finished in Siena. Organizer RCS asked local cycling icons Fiorenzo Magni and Paolo Bettini to promote the maiden event.[12] Monte dei Paschi, the world's oldest still-existing bank with its headquarters in Siena, served as the race's title sponsor for the first four years.

In 2008 it moved to early March on the calendar, closer to the heart of the spring classics season.[13] Swiss Fabian Cancellara won the second edition. In 2009, organizers changed the name of the race to Strade Bianche – Eroica Toscana and in 2010 to Strade Bianche. The race was also lengthened 9 km (5.6 mi) and one more gravel sector was added, taking the total unsealed sections to 57 km (35 mi).[14]

Strade Bianche[edit]

In 2014, the start of the race moved to the hilly town of San Gimignano.[15] In 2015, its name officially changed to Strade Bianche – Eroica Pro after the creation of a women's version, and UCI upgraded the event to a 1.HC race of the UCI Europe Tour, the highest rating for a non-World Tour single-day cycling event. Since 2016, Siena has hosted both the start and finish of the Strade Bianche.[10] Due to the nature of the race and its place on the calendar, the field is usually made up of riders taking part in Tirreno–Adriatico and Milan–San Remo.

The peloton during the 2014 event, won by Michał Kwiatkowski.

Although a young event, the race gained the status of an "instant classic", garnering much media attention and soon becoming a desirable entry in classics riders' palmares.[3] Among the winners of the first ten editions feature Fabian Cancellara, Philippe Gilbert and Michał Kwiatkowski on a very international roll of honour. Moreno Moser became the first Italian winner of the Strade Bianche in the 2013 race. Classics specialist Cancellara won the tenth edition in 2016, becoming the first three-time winner of the race and earning a gravel sector named after him.[6]

World Tour race[edit]

In 2017, the Strade Bianche was included in the UCI World Tour, cycling's highest level of professional races.[4][5] Michał Kwiatkowski claimed his second victory, becoming the second rider with more than one win.[16]

The 2018 event was raced in abysmal weather.[17] Low temperatures and heavy rainfall had made the gravel roads exceptionally muddy and decimated the peloton in the early stages of the race. Belgian Tiesj Benoot claimed his first professional victory, after he bridged a gap to the race leaders and left them behind on the penultimate gravel sector of Colle Pinzuto.[18] Only 53 of 147 participants finished the race; 20 riders arrived outside of the time limit.[19] Second-place finisher Romain Bardet called the event a "Dante-esque contest".[20]

The 2020 event was postponed to August 1 from its usual March schedule due to the COVID-19 pandemic.[21][22]


The Piazza del Campo in Siena hosts the finish of the Strade Bianche.


The race starts and finishes in the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Siena.[10] The route consists of 184 km (114 mi) over hilly terrain crossing the Crete Senesi in the central Tuscan province of Siena, including 11 sectors of gravel roads, totaling 63 km (39 mi) of dirt roads.[23][2] The finish is on Siena's Piazza del Campo, after a steep and narrow climb on the roughly-paved Via Santa Caterina leading into the center of the medieval city.[24][25]

Gravel roads[edit]

The white gravel roads, characteristic of the Tuscan countryside, provide the unique character of the race. They are usually country lanes and farm tracks, called strade bianche or sterrati in Italian, twisting through the hills and vineyards of the Chianti region.[26] The longest and most arduous sectors are the ones in Lucignano d'Asso (9.5 km, 5.9 mi) and Asciano (11 km, 6.8 mi).[27] Some of the dirt roads are flat; other sections include steep climbs and winding descents, testing riders' climbing abilities and bike handling skills. Positioning and route knowledge often prove vital.

One of the strade bianche in the Crete Senesi, south of Siena, pictured during the "Eroica" granfondo in 2008.

Race organizers were inspired by the two most famous northern classics, uniting the peculiarities of the Tour of Flanders with its bergs (short stretches of steep hills), and Paris–Roubaix with its gruelling cobblestone sections.[28] It has been called Italy's answer to Flanders' famous one-day races, as reflected by the promotional slogan of the 2015 edition: La Classica del Nord più a sud d'Europa (Europe's most southern Northern Classic).[28]

Angelo Zomegnan, RCS events director, explained before the first edition in 2007: "Cycling needed something new and the riders need a motivation [...] This race is unique and special."[29] Likewise, Italian sprinter Daniele Bennati was equally enthusiastic about the race, stating: "It was a sensation of turning back in time. I did not think paths like these, where you only see a tractor every now and then, still existed [...] It will be an important race that could become an important classic. I can already imagine the atmosphere of the arrival in the Piazza del Palio."[29]

Starting and finishing in Siena, the race runs entirely in the province of Siena in central Tuscany. Gravel sectors are in green.
Sectors of strade bianche in the 2019 event
No. Name Distance from Length
1 Vidritta 17.6 160.3 2.1 *
2 Bagnaia 25 153.2 4.7 ****
3 Radi 36.9 142.7 4.4 **
4 La piana 47.6 130.9 5.5 *
5 Lucignano d'Asso 75.8 96.3 11.9 ***
6 Pieve a Salti 88.7 87.3 8.0 ****
7 San Martino in Grania 111.3 63.2 9.5 ***
8 Monte Sante Marie
(Settore Cancellara)
130 42.5 11.5 *****
9 Monteaperti 160 23.6 0.8 *
10 Colle Pinzuto 164.6 17 2.4 ****
11 Le Tolfe 171 11.9 1.1 ***


Fabian Cancellara (pictured at the 2012 edition) won the race in 2008, 2012 and 2016.
Year Country Rider Team
2007  Russia Alexandr Kolobnev Team CSC
2008   Switzerland Fabian Cancellara Team CSC
2009  Sweden Thomas Löfkvist Team Columbia–High Road
2010  Kazakhstan Maxim Iglinsky Astana
2011  Belgium Philippe Gilbert Omega Pharma–Lotto
2012   Switzerland Fabian Cancellara RadioShack–Nissan
2013  Italy Moreno Moser Cannondale
2014  Poland Michał Kwiatkowski Omega Pharma–Quick-Step
2015  Czech Republic Zdeněk Štybar Etixx–Quick-Step
2016   Switzerland Fabian Cancellara Trek–Segafredo
2017  Poland Michał Kwiatkowski Team Sky
2018  Belgium Tiesj Benoot Lotto–Soudal
2019  France Julian Alaphilippe Deceuninck–Quick-Step
2020  Belgium Wout Van Aert Team Jumbo–Visma
2021  Netherlands Mathieu van der Poel Alpecin–Fenix
2022  Slovenia Tadej Pogačar UAE Team Emirates
2023  United Kingdom Tom Pidcock Ineos Grenadiers
2024  Slovenia Tadej Pogačar UAE Team Emirates

Multiple winners[edit]

Wins Rider Editions
3  Fabian Cancellara (SUI) 2008, 2012, 2016
2  Michał Kwiatkowski (POL) 2014, 2017
2  Tadej Pogačar (SLO) 2022, 2024

Wins per country[edit]

Wins Country
3  Belgium
2  Poland
1  Czech Republic
 Great Britain


  • Riders who take three Strade Bianche titles have a sector of gravel road named after them.[30] Fabian Cancellara is the first rider with a stretch named in his honour: sector 8, an 11.5 km (7.1 mi) sector in Monte Sante Marie.[31][32][6][33][34]
  • The youngest winner was Moreno Moser in 2013 (22 years and 70 days).
  • The oldest winner was Fabian Cancellara in 2016 (34 years and 353 days).
  • Three riders – Alessandro Ballan, Peter Sagan and Greg Van Avermaet – finished second on two occasions. None of them have ever won the race.

Strade Bianche Donne[edit]

A women's race, the Strade Bianche Donne, was inaugurated in 2015. Part of the UCI Women's World Tour, it is held on the same day as the men's race, on the same roads but at a shorter distance. The women's race is run over 136 km (85 mi), containing 30 km (19 mi) of gravel roads spread over eight sectors.[8] American Megan Guarnier won the inaugural event in 2015,[35] and Dutch rider Annemiek van Vleuten has won the most editions, winning the 2019 and 2020 races.[36]


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  2. ^ a b "Pro peloton returns to Italy's dirt roads for Strade Bianche". VeloNews. 31 January 2018. Retrieved 8 March 2019.
  3. ^ a b "Almost as Good as Homemade". The Service Course. Retrieved 21 November 2015.
  4. ^ a b "UCI expands WorldTour to 37 events". Cycling News. Retrieved 2 October 2016.
  5. ^ a b "The UCI reveals expanded UCI WorldTour calendar for 2017". UCI. Retrieved 2 October 2016.
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  7. ^ a b Fabian Cancellara: 'Don't compare Strade Bianche with Paris-Roubaix' from Cycling Weekly.
  8. ^ a b Frattini, Kirsten (28 February 2018). "Longer, tougher Strade Bianche Women in 2018 - Preview". Cycling News. Retrieved 5 March 2019.
  9. ^ 2nd Edition Monte Paschi Eroica at the Daily Peloton - Pro Cycling News Retrieved on 2008-03-24.
  10. ^ a b c "Siena start for Strade Bianche in 2016". Cycling News. Retrieved 6 February 2016.
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  12. ^ "Bettini "padrino" della Monte Paschi Eroica". Gazzetta dello Sport (in Italian). 2 October 2007. Retrieved 29 November 2015.
  13. ^ Second Edition of Monte Paschi Eroica - Eroica's status grows with new springtime date Retrieved on 2008-03-24.
  14. ^ 3rd Montepaschi Strade Bianche - Eroica Toscana - 1.1 Retrieved on 2010-03-07.
  15. ^ Farrand, Stephen. "Strade Bianche Preview: Sagan, Cancellara, Wiggins and Valverde to clash on the dirt roads of Tuscany". CyclingNews. Retrieved 23 November 2015.
  16. ^ "Kwiatkowski gives Sky Strade Bianche tonic". Agence France-Presse. 4 March 2017. Retrieved 4 March 2017 – via VeloNews.
  17. ^ Bromhead, Nat. "2018 Strade Bianche: Mud, Rain, Sleet... And Epic Racing". bicyclingaustralia.com. Retrieved 8 March 2019.
  18. ^ Fletcher, Patrick. "Strade Bianche: Benoot crushes the gravel in emphatic solo victory". cyclingnews.com. Retrieved 8 March 2019.
  19. ^ "12th Strade Bianche (1.UWT)". ProCyclingStats. Retrieved 8 March 2019.
  20. ^ Kezzouf, Youmni. "Romain Bardet s'amuse et impressionne sur les "Strade Bianche" italiens". Le Monde (in French). Retrieved 12 March 2019.
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  23. ^ Strade Bianche Website Retrieved on 2014-06-30
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  30. ^ "Strade Bianche Eroica Pro: storia, curiosità, statistiche e pronostici". fantagazzetta.com (in Italian). Retrieved 5 March 2016.
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  36. ^ Knöfler, Lukas (2020-08-01). "Annemiek van Vleuten continues winning streak with Strade Bianche victory". cyclingnews.com. Retrieved 2023-03-05.

External links[edit]