The handful of riders who chased Tom Pidcock in the final 17 km of Saturday’s 17th Strade Bianche will rue their dithering, with only podium spots their reward. Pidcock took a big solo victory on the white gravel roads of Tuscany, Italy, the first for a Brit at the Italian classic.
There were 63 km of gravel roads on the 184-km route across 11 sectors. Hard and hilly Sectors 5 (11.9 km) and 6 (8 km) only had 1 km of tarmac in between. Long Sector 7 of San Martino in Grania (9.5 km) was characterized by constant ups and downs in the first part and ended with a twisting climb. Sector 8 Ponte del Garbo (Asciano) was the hardest of the race, 11.5 km of mostly tough hills, the most important being those close to Monte Sante Marie. 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.
La Strade Bianche @CA_Ita promette di essere incerta e spettacolare. Ecco l’altimetria.
Strade Bianche @CA_Ita promises to be tough and spectacular. Check out the race profile in detail.#StradeBianche pic.twitter.com/ar49f2hTuS
— Strade Bianche (@StradeBianche) March 4, 2023
The Canadian contingent was Israel-Premier Tech’s Derek Gee, who finished outside the time limit.
By the midway point a trio of fugitives had a 5:00 gap with Groupama-FDJ chasing. On five-star Sector 7, Ineos’ Carlos Rodriguez crashed. With 64 km remaining, the intrepid threesome still had a 3:30 lead, Trek-Segafredo assuming chase duties.
race is on now. pic.twitter.com/6jJm7DBeBW
— BORA – hansgrohe (@BORAhansgrohe) March 4, 2023
Soudal-QuickStep poured it on into the dust of Sector 7. The peloton was still largely intact. The next five-star sector of Monte Sante Marie loomed. There, pink-clad Alberto Bettiol made a thrust and Pidcock found his wheel. Peter Sagan dropped out the back of the field.
Pidcock made the junction with the fugitives, replacing one rider that had fallen off the pace. The peloton was close behind with Pello Bilbao in a three-man chase in between. Back in the pack, Bettiol unfortunately crashed out.
Pre-race favourite Mathieu van der Poel lost contact with 37 km remaining, as the white gravel continued to take its toll. There were…
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