Strade Bianche Classic 2020

The Classics Have Finally Arrived - Strade Bianche 2022

Mar 02, 2022Dannielle Watkinson

At last! The Classics season has arrived and kicked off in glorious fashion, already bringing countless surprises to spectators.

The Strade Bianche continues to follow in the stride of modern-day equality, by holding both men’s and women’s races – things we love to see.

It’s not a race for the faint-hearted though, or at-least not most, unless you enjoy a good battering… although, we’re all slightly unhinged, to be putting our bodies through the strenuous training regime’s that we do.

Strade Bianche 2020

Let’s take a closer look into Strade Bianche 2022

Race Preview

Men’s – 184km loop | 11 challenging sectors

Women’s – 136km loop | 8 challenging sectors

Both Start and finish in Siena.

Good parts of the race to look out for

I mean let’s face it, the whole race is going to be a gruelling, yet exhilarating show for spectators, but of course the gravel sectors are likely to be the most interesting parts and likely where moves will be made.

The Strade Bianche official website (here) suggests there isn’t any long climbs, but the route is full of some punchy, leg snappers to aid in filling the pros with the dreaded lactate – can’t make it too easy right?

With roughly 63km of gravel roads for the men and 31.4km for the women, starting as early as 11km in, there is no end to opportunities for the brave to try some moves. The gravel sectors tend to be good places to try some team tactics, due to the pure challenge of just staying upright and getting over them, it means if someone is lucky to get a gap, they can often maintain it. As we saw in Paris-Roubaix last year, if the weather is also on top ‘wet’ form then it could cause serious problems for the peloton.

Once the pelotons have slogged their guts out for many, uncountable and possibly torturous kilometres, they hit some lovely gradients of up to 16%, on some wide roads, pleasantly connected by sweeping bends on their approach into Siena.

However, it gets tougher as they get closer to the finish line. Two kilometres out they hit a 900m incline of 9%, before sweeping past Fontebranda Gate to touch upon some bumpy paving slabs, with a cheeky 10% gradient, continuing until 500m from the finish line – not forgetting the enjoyable peak of 16%...

300m out they’ll still be climbing – more gradually, once entering Piazza del Campo they’ll have a mere 70m to go, but the final 30m is a 7% descent into a flat finish line.

Who could win Strade Bianche?

The options are never straight forward with cycling, some riders have higher early season form than others, some will be targeting the race and others will be doing it as training, then there are the endless, unfortunate events that can take place in a race, mechanicals, punctures, and accidents to name a few.

However, all that said and done, one rider who stands out for the men and would have been up there is Wout Van Aert, with his early season form that we were privileged enough to witness at Omloop Het Neiwsblad, but he has opted for Paris-Nice instead, leaving the door wide open.

Rumour has it, the three names expected to do big things are: Tom Pidcock – the young brit growing in strength at every race, Tadej Pogacar the young Slovenian making a solid name for himself and Julian Alaphilippe, a rider who still surprises spectators with his incredible talent.

For the women it’s much more open, with many teams having taken on new riders this year, young riders moving up the ranks and women growing in strength! However, previous years has seen the likes of Annemiek Van Vleuten, Anna Van der Breggen and Chantal van den Broek-Blaak take the win, so who will nab it this year?!

Well, we’ll see some firm favourites battling it out for a podium finish this year, Demi Vollering, Lizzie Deignan and Annemiek Van Vleuten, all incredibly strong riders, showing solid early season form, along with determination and sheer grit in the early races we’ve seen so far.

Why not gravel bikes?

With the race being mainly set on fast, open roads, it would be a disadvantage to race on gravel bikes, less aero, heavier, and often slower equipment on the builds.

Strade Bianche 2022

We see many riders on 32/33mm tyres on road bikes (most come with much more tyre clearance due to being disc brake) in races like this these days, the wider tyres see them safely across the cobbles and gravel sectors, while the aero and lightweight road bikes help them to attack and save a little extra on the roads.

These kinds of races were traditionally ridden on handmade tubulars, but with technology moving on, many pros opt for standardised tubeless tyres – often giving them the advantage of being able to continue riding if they pickup punctures along the way.

There is no doubt this is a race to watch, clear your diary, get your popcorn and beers in and give the live broadcast some love.

Happy supporting CE legends! 

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