|Local name(s)||Strade Bianche - Eroica Pro (Italian)|
|Competition||UCI Europe Tour 1.HC|
|Race director||Mauro Vegni|
|Editions||9 (as of 2015)|
|First winner||Alexandr Kolobnev (RUS)|
|Most wins||Fabian Cancellara (SUI) (2 wins)|
|Most recent||Zdeněk Štybar (CZE)|
The Strade Bianche, officially called Strade Bianche - Eroica Pro, is a road bicycle race in Tuscany, Central Italy, with a finish in Siena. It has been held annually since 2007, on the first or second Saturday of March. The name Strade Bianche (Italian for White Streets) stems from the historic white gravel roads that are a defining feature of the race. More than 50 km of the 200 km total are raced on dirt roads.
Despite its short history, the Strade Bianche has gained prestige fast. The race is part of the UCI Europe Tour as a 1.HC event on the professional cycling calendar. It is organized by RCS Sport - La Gazzetta dello Sport, and is held the weekend before Tirreno–Adriatico as an early spring precursor to the cobbled classics in April.
Since 2015, a women's event, the Strade Bianche Donne, is held on the same day as the men's race. It is raced at half the distance of the men's race, containing 17 km of gravel roads spread over five sectors.
Monte Paschi Eroica
The Eroica Strade Bianche ("Heroic race of the gravel roads") was created in 1997 as a granfondo, a recreational bike race for vintage bikes only, on the white gravel roads around Siena, an event that is still held annually the day after the professional race.
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. 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. 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 kilometres.
Strade Bianche - Eroica Pro
In 2014, the start of the race moved to the hill town of San Gimignano. 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 1.HC, the highest rating for a non-World Tour single-day cycling event. As from 2016, Siena hosts both the start and finish of the Strade Bianche. 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.
Although a young event, the race has gained the status of an instant classic, garnering lots of media attention and soon becoming a desirable entry in classics riders’ palmares. Among the winners of the first nine editions feature Fabian Cancellara, Philippe Gilbert and Michał Kwiatkowski on a very international prizelist. In 2013 Moreno Moser became only the first Italian winner of the Strade Bianche. Swiss classics specialist Cancellara is the only rider to have won the race two times.
The race starts and finishes in the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Siena. The route consists of 176 kilometres over hilly terrain crossing the southern Tuscan province of Siena, including nine sectors of gravel roads, totaling 52.8 km (32.8 mi) of dirt road. The finish is on Siena's illustrious Piazza del Campo, after a steep and narrow climb with a roughly paved surface leading into the heart of the medieval city. In 2014 Michał Kwiatkowski distanced Peter Sagan on the final stretches.
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. The longest and most arduous sectors are the ones in Lucignano d’Asso (9.5 km) and Asciano (11 km). 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.
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 grueling cobblestone sections. It has been called Italy's answer to Flanders' most iconic 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).
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." 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."
|2007||Kolobnev, AlexandrAlexandr Kolobnev (RUS)||Team CSC|
|2008||Cancellara, FabianFabian Cancellara (SUI)||Team CSC|
|2009||Lovkvist, ThomasThomas Lövkvist (SWE)||Team Columbia–High Road|
|2010||Iglinsky, MaximMaxim Iglinsky (KAZ)||Astana|
|2011||Gilbert, PhilippePhilippe Gilbert (BEL)||Omega Pharma–Lotto|
|2012||Cancellara, FabianFabian Cancellara (SUI)||RadioShack–Nissan|
|2013||Moser, MorenoMoreno Moser (ITA)||Cannondale|
|2014||Kwiatkowski, MichałMichał Kwiatkowski (POL)||Omega Pharma–Quick-Step|
|2015||Štybar, ZdeněkZdeněk Štybar (CZE)||Etixx–Quick-Step|
|2||Fabian Cancellara (SUI)||2008, 2012|
Wins per country
- "Almost as Good as Homemade". The Service Course. Retrieved 21 November 2015.
- Farrand, Stephen (16 January 2015). "Women's Strade Bianche race route revealed". cyclingnews.com. Retrieved 24 January 2015.
- 2nd Edition Monte Paschi Eroica at the Daily Peloton - Pro Cycling News Retrieved on 2008-03-24.
- "Siena start for Strade Bianche in 2016". Cycling News. Retrieved 6 February 2016.
- "Bettini "padrino" della Monte Paschi Eroica". Gazzetta dello Sport (in Italian). 2 October 2007. Retrieved 29 November 2015.
- Second Edition of Monte Paschi Eroica - Eroica's status grows with new springtime date Retrieved on 2008-03-24.
- 3rd Montepaschi Strade Bianche - Eroica Toscana - 1.1 Retrieved on 2010-03-07.
- Farrand, Stephen. "Strade Bianche Preview: Sagan, Cancellara, Wiggins and Valverde to clash on the dirt roads of Tuscany". CyclingNews. Retrieved 23 November 2015.
- Strade Bianche Website Retrieved on 2014-06-30
- Puddicombe, Stephen. "Strade Bianche 2015 preview". Cycling Weekly. Retrieved 29 November 2015.
- Brown, Gregor. "Preview: Strade Bianche promises to be a strongman’s race". Velo News. Retrieved 29 November 2015.
- Benson, Daniel. "Kwiatkowski wins Strade Bianche". CyclingNews. Retrieved 23 November 2015.
- Hunter, David. "Strade Bianche 2015 Preview". Ciclismo Internacional. Retrieved 29 November 2015.
- Farrand, Stephen. "Strade Bianche Preview: Cancellara faces Sagan, Nibali, Stybar and Valverde". CyclingNews. Retrieved 23 November 2015.
- Aiesi, Samuele. "Strade Bianche: storia, curiosità, statistiche e pronostici". Fantagazzetta. Redazione Scommesse Fantagazzetta. Retrieved 21 November 2015.
- Brown, Gregor. "First Monte Paschi Eroica presented". Cycling News. Retrieved 30 November 2015.
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