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Epic solo ride earns Tadej Pogačar second Strade Bianche title

Epic solo ride earns Tadej Pogačar second Strade Bianche title

Tadej Pogačar continues to amaze the cycling world. At Saturday’s 18th Strade Bianche on a longer, tougher course in Tuscany, Italy, the Slovenian started his 2024 campaign with an epic, 81-km solo win. He called the attack before the race. It was his second white roads victory. Pogačar’s final 2023 race was his natural hat trick of Il Lombardia triumphs.

Pogacar attacks on wet Monte Sante Marie sector with 81 km to go.

The Course

There were 71 km of gravel roads across 15 sectors on the 215-km route. Hard and hilly Sectors 5 (11.9 km) and 6 (8 km) only had 1 km of tarmac between them. Long Sector 7 of San Martino in Grania (9.5 km) is characterized by constant ups and downs in the first part and ends with a twisting climb. Sector 8 Monte Sante Marie was the hardest of the race, 11.5 km of mostly tough hills. In Siena, with 900 metres to the finish line, the race route passed beneath Fontebranda Gate where the road surface turned to cobbles. The gradient kicked up to 10 percent until 500 metres from the line, with a maximum gradient of 16 percent along Via Santa Caterina.

The last five winners were a who’s-who of Twenties greats: Julian Alaphilippe, Wout van Aert, Mathieu van der Poel, Pogačar and Tom Pidcock. Van Aert and van der Poel weren’t in Siena.

Two breakaways failed in the first 20 km but the second sector in Bagnaia split the peloton, Astana powering the lead group. The split was mended between the Radi and La Plana sectors, prompting another breakaway quintet, which bounced along the white roads losing riders to flats until the peloton reeled it in before San Martino in Grania.

UAE-Emirates’ 20-year-old Mexican sensation Isaac del Toro pulled onto the final long sector of Monte Sante Marie at the 131 km mark. By then, Julian Alaphilippe had crashed out. Quinn Simmons, earlier thwarted in a breakaway, attacked in the pouring rain.

Pidcock’s Ineos chases Quinn Simmons in the rain.

On Monte Sante Marie, Pogačar sent Tim Wellens to the front. With 8.5 km left on the sector and 81 km remaining in the race, Pogačar made his decisive move. Two kilometers later, he had 23 seconds on a muddy chase group of 20. His team marked any attempts to bridge. By the end of the sector, 72.5 km still to race,…

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