March 5, 2022
Strade Bianche 2022 – Siena – Siena : 184 km
Fans have been calling for this one-day classic to be made a Monument ever since it first aired on our television screens in 2007.
March 5, 2022
Strade Bianche 2022 – Siena – Siena : 184 km
Fans have been calling for this one-day classic to be made a Monument ever since it first aired on our television screens in 2007. It’s no surprise either, with the rolling Tuscan surrounds, the rough white gravel and the uphill finish into the Piazza del Campo it’s almost impossible to take your attention away from this race – like the white gravel that litters its route, it grips you from the very beginning. Come rain or shine, this race suits those riders with a powerful punch and the courage to attack from afar. Starting and finishing in the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Siena, Strade-Bianche tackles the same iconic route through the rolling hills of Tuscany every year. Over the ~190km-long route there are 11 gruelling gravel sectors for the riders to conquer, each of which are assigned a rating from one to five stars depending on their difficulty. These Strade Bianche, or ‘White Roads’, regularly make up around 63km of the entire route and serve as ideal launchpads for riders to attack from. As well as being strewn with dusty white stones, these gravel sectors also contain a number of short sharp climbs – several of which boast leg-breaking 20% gradients. If these gravelled roads and excruciating ramps aren’t enough to decide a winner, then the final climb into the centre of Siena certainly is. The last kilometre of this race is one of the most iconic in cycling, not to mention one of the most difficult, and regularly creates one of the most spectacular and jaw-dropping ends to a bicycle race that you’ll see all year.
Tadej Pogačar (UAE Team Emirates) made the latest addition to his palmarès on Saturday with victory at Strade Bianche, and he did it in style, in the form of a 50km solo exhibition.
The Tour de France champion, who also won Liège-Bastogne-Liège and Il Lombardia last year, once again stunned the cycling world with this latest exploit, which saw him single-handedly bury an entire field.
The 23-year-old hit the front on the long Monte Sante Marie sector with just over 50km to go and subtly prized open a gap over a peloton that had reformed after huge crash caused by the wind with 100km to go. With the back of his jersey dusted up and his left elbow bloodied, Pogačar himself had clearly hit the deck, but he showed absolutely no sign of damage.
He teased open the gap as the favourites came to the fore, and stamped on the pedals on the steep gradients on the latter part of the sector to hammer open his advantage. Remarkably, he kept gaining and gaining, even back on the tarmac and even into a headwind.
He carved out a lead of a whopping 1:40 as the other favourites, almost not knowing what had hit them, settled into a larger chase group, with Carlos Rodriguez (Ineos Grenadiers) stuck in between for a while but unable to get across.
Pogačar lost some of his lead as his rivals started to hit out not he final three steep sectors, but still came through with a minute in hand and carried it into Siena, where he was high-fiving fans as he made his way up the Via Santa Caterina and down into the Piazza del Campo.
Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) claimed second place, having dropped Kasper Asgreen (QuickStep-AlphaVinyl) on the Santa Caterina. Asgreen himself had assumed team leadership after Julian Alaphilippe was blown off the road in the mass crash, and went clear on the final sectors before being joined by Valverde for the run-in.
Attila Valter (Groupama-FDJ) and Pello Bilbao (Bahrain Victorious) rounded out the top five after coming back to the group of Jhonatan Narvaez (Ineos Grenadiers), Quinn Simmons (Trek-Segafredo), and Tim Wellens (Lotto Soudal), who’d gone clear with Asgreen and Valverde but lost contact on the penultimate sector.
Simone Petilli (Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux) and Sergio Higuita (Bora-Hansgrohe) rounded out the top 10 but they were almost in another race to Pogačar.
“This is an amazing win, incredible. I’m super happy to pull it off,” he said.
“Normally there’s a moment where the race goes, and this time I tried to do my best effort on the Sante Marie climb and no one followed. In the end I was alone. I had to be fully committed. I was all the time looking back – where is everybody? It was really tense. My energy was going lower and lower, but I managed to survive until the end.”
How it unfolded
The riders gathered in the Siena Fortezza for the start of 16th edition, warmed by a timid Tuscan spring sun but concerned about the strong winds blowing from the east and so across the race route.
The early kilometres of the route dropped down from Siena and the wind was a stiff tailwind. That helped the early break to form quickly.
Marco Brenner and Leon Heinschke (Team DSM), Lilian Calmejane (AG2R Citroën), Davide Martinelli (Astana Qazaqstan), Taco van der Hoorn (Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux), Simone Bevilacqua (Eolo-Kometa) and Edoardo Zardini (Drone Hopper-Androni Giocattoli) chasing early glory. They were soon joined by Samuele Zoccarato (Bardiani-CSF) and Sergio García (Eolo-Kometa).
The peloton let them go and their gap was up to 5:30 as they hit the first sector of gravel roads after 25km.
QuickStep-AlphaVinyl, Movistar, and UAE Team Emirates were prominent at the head of the peloton, protecting their leaders and keeping the break under control. The break was at 3:30 after 65km as they reached the climb to Montalcino, the turning point of the race route.
Soon after the rider began the 11.9km fifth sector of gravel roads, up to Lucignano d’Asso and across the exposed and barren Crete Senese hills.
The race seemed settled with still 97km to go but suddenly a gust of wind changed everything. Alaphilippe was near the front on the edge of the road. He lost his balance due to a strong gust and unclipped his right leg to find his balance. At the same moment an Alpecin-Fenix rider was blown across the road and Alaphilippe had nowhere to go. He crashed, flipped over his bars and flew into the ploughed field. Behind him other riders tumbled and panicked.
Alaphilippe eventually got up and got going but other riders were in pain and soon abandoned, including Michael Matthews (BikeExchange-Jayco), 2018 winner Tiesj Benoot (Jumbo-Visma) Matej Mohorič (Bahrain Victorious), Michael Gogl (Alpecin-Fenix). Lotto Soudal lost Victor Campenaerts and Brent Van Moer, while Ineos Grenadiers reported the abandon of Salvatore Puccio after suffering “lacerations” in the crash.
Pogačar narrowly avoided the crash and briefly slipped clear in a small group that clipped off the front as the chaos unfurled behind. Later he stopped for a moment but was quickly back in the pack.
They were caught by a larger group to form a reduced bunch, while the Alaphilippe group eventually got back with 75 kilometres to go after 25 kilometres of hard chasing.
Upfront the breakaway, down to Brenner, Calmejane, Van der Hoorn, Heinschke, Zoccarato, entered the Pieve a Salti sector six of the 11, with 95km to race. The break lead the reduced peloton by 50 seconds, with the Alaphilippe chase group timed at 1:50.
The head wind slowed everyone and allowed Alaphilippe, teammates Mikkel Honore’ and Mauro Schmid, and others to get back to the peloton. The world champion had used up vital energy but seemed determined to race on, moving quickly to the head of the race.
QuickStep even took control of the race on the seventh San Martino in Grania sector, with Kasper Asgreen riding on the front in pursuit of the break.
With 65km to race, Heinschke was dropped from the break as Zoccarato forced the issue on the sterrato, leaving four left upfront. However with 52km to go even they were swept up, the wind making for a hard race for anyone out front.
Soon after Alaphilippe accelerated as the 11.5km Monte Sante Marie gravel sector started in earnest. It was a playful move, perhaps to tease out his rivals and he was soon joined by Simon Clarke (Israel-Premier Tech), Quinn Simmons (Trek-Segafredo) and Pogačar, with Tim Wellens (Lotto Soudal) bringing up a group of chasers and accelerating too.
However on a fast gravel descent ,Pogačar decided it was time to make his move. He put his cards on the table, took huge risks and dived down the gravel descent. Everyone struggled to follow and he soon opened a gap. He was away alone, turning Strade Bianche into a time trial, a race against himself and his limits on the gravel roads.
Carlos Rodriquez (Ineos Grenadiers) tried a brave lone chase but dropped his chain on a gravel descent and with 42km to go, he was timed at 30 seconds.
QuickStep-AlphaVinyl lead the chasing group with Asgreen but the 20 or so chasers were soon one minute down as the long Monte Sante Marie gravel road sector ended. In just a few kilometres, Pogačar had turned the race upside down and his way, just as he had done in other shows of dominance.
On the ride towards Siena and the three short final gravel sectors, the chase group became much bigger and more organised with Trek-Segafredo, Movistar and QuickStep, providing manpower and a determined chase. However, Pogačar time trialed alone on the asphalt roads regardless. With 30km to go, Rodriguez stayed in limbo at 50 seconds with the chasers at 1:30.
1 Tadej Pogačar (Slo) UAE Team Emirates 4:47:49
2 Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar Team 0:00:37
3 Kasper Asgreen (Den) Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl Team 0:00:46
4 Attila Valter (Hun) Groupama-FDJ 0:01:07
5 Pello Bilbao Lopez De Armentia (Spa) Bahrain Victorious 0:01:09
6 Jhonatan Narvaez Prado (Ecu) Ineos Grenadiers
7 Quinn Simmons (USA) Trek-Segafredo 0:01:21
8 Tim Wellens (Bel) Lotto Soudal 0:01:25
9 Simone Petilli (Ita) Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux 0:01:35
10 Sergio Higuita Garcia (Col) Bora-Hansgrohe 0:01:53
11 Michael Valgren (Den) EF Education-EasyPost 0:01:56
12 Floris De Tier (Bel) Alpecin-Fenix 0:01:57
13 Lorenzo Rota (Ita) Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux
14 Sébastien Reichenbach (Swi) Groupama-FDJ
15 Ruben Antonio Almeida
16 Toms Skujins (Lat) Trek-Segafredo 0:02:00
17 Andrea Vendrame (Ita) AG2R Citroen Team 0:02:02
18 Jai Hindley (Aus) Bora-Hansgrohe 0:02:03
19 Filippo Zana (Ita) Bardiani CSF Faizane’ 0:02:05
20 Carlos Rodriguez Cano (Spa) Ineos Grenadiers 0:02:07
21 Simone Velasco (Ita) Astana Qazaqstan Team
22 Xandro Meurisse (Bel) Alpecin-Fenix 0:02:09
23 Diego Ulissi (Ita) UAE Team Emirates 0:02:14
24 Andreas Kron (Den) Lotto Soudal 0:02:18
25 Vincenzo Albanese (Ita) Eolo-Kometa Cycling Team 0:02:23
26 Simon Clarke (Aus) Israel-Premier Tech 0:02:29
27 Warren Barguil (Fra) Arkea-Samsic 0:04:05
28 Alessandro Covi (Ita) UAE Team Emirates
29 Benoit Cosnefroy (Fra) AG2R Citroen Team
30 Richard Carapaz (Ecu) Ineos Grenadiers
31 Sepp Kuss (USA) Jumbo-Visma 0:04:11
32 Edoardo Zambanini (Ita) Bahrain Victorious 0:04:13
33 Nelson Oliveira (Por) Movistar Team 0:04:19
34 Anthony Delaplace (Fra) Arkea-Samsic 0:04:23
35 Lewis Askey (GBr) Groupama-FDJ 0:05:19
36 Jakob Fuglsang (Den) Israel-Premier Tech
37 Jan Tratnik (Slo) Bahrain Victorious 0:06:50
38 Alexander Kamp (Den) Trek-Segafredo 0:08:14
39 Joris Nieuwenhuis (Ned) Team DSM
40 Pieter Serry (Bel) Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl Team
41 Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) AG2R Citroen Team
42 Lilian Calmejane (Fra) AG2R Citroen Team
43 Ben Zwiehoff (Ger) Bora-Hansgrohe
44 Scott Thwaites (GBr) Alpecin-Fenix
45 Koen Bouwman (Ned) Jumbo-Visma
46 Hermann Pernsteiner (Aut) Bahrain Victorious
47 Erik Fetter (Hun) Eolo-Kometa Cycling Team
48 Gonzalo Serrano Rodriguez (Spa) Movistar Team
49 Thibaut Pinot (Fra) Groupama-FDJ
50 Milan Vader (Ned) Jumbo-Visma 0:08:23
51 Robert Stannard (Aus) Alpecin-Fenix 0:08:25
52 Samuele Zoccarato (Ita) Bardiani CSF Faizane’
53 Maxim Van Gils (Bel) Lotto Soudal
54 Quinten Hermans (Bel) Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux
55 Jonathan Caicedo (Ecu) EF Education-EasyPost 0:08:27
56 Dario Cataldo (Ita) Trek-Segafredo 0:08:33
57 Krists Neilands (Lat) Israel-Premier Tech 0:08:35
58 Julian Alaphilippe (Fra) Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl Team 0:08:36
59 Roger Kluge (Ger) Lotto Soudal 0:12:00
60 Tobias Ludvigsson (Swe) Groupama-FDJ 0:13:29
61 Romain Combaud (Fra) Team DSM
62 Mattia Bais (Ita) Drone Hopper-Androni Giocattoli
63 Fabian Lienhard (Swi) Groupama-FDJ
64 Diego Pablo Sevilla Lopez (Spa) Eolo-Kometa Cycling Team
65 Jhonatan Restrepo Valencia (Col) Drone Hopper-Androni Giocattoli
66 Michael Schär (Swi) AG2R Citroen Team
67 Mikkel Honoré (Den) Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl Team
68 Robert Gesink (Ned) Jumbo-Visma
69 Patrick Gamper (Aut) Bora-Hansgrohe
70 Davide Gabburo (Ita) Bardiani CSF Faizane’
71 Antonio Tiberi (Ita) Trek-Segafredo
72 Timo Roosen (Ned) Jumbo-Visma
73 Clément Russo (Fra) Arkea-Samsic
74 Kevin Colleoni (Ita) BikeExchange-Jayco
75 Mathias Norsgaard (Den) Movistar Team
76 Clément Berthet (Fra) AG2R Citroen Team
77 Alexander Cataford (Can) Israel-Premier Tech 0:13:36
78 Tom Scully (NZl) EF Education-EasyPost 0:13:37
79 Marc Soler (Spa) UAE Team Emirates 0:13:44
80 Taco van der Hoorn (Ned) Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux 0:13:46
81 Ben Turner (GBr) Ineos Grenadiers 0:13:51
82 Alan Riou (Fra) Arkea-Samsic
83 Ide Schelling (Ned) Bora-Hansgrohe 0:13:54
84 Edward Theuns (Bel) Trek-Segafredo 0:14:48
85 Miguel Eduardo Florez Lopez (Col) Arkea-Samsic 0:15:15
86 Samuele Rivi (Ita) Eolo-Kometa Cycling Team 0:15:23
87 Marijn van den Berg (Ned) EF Education-EasyPost 0:18:31
OTL Sergio Garcia Gonzalez (Spa) Eolo-Kometa Cycling Team
OTL Harry Sweeny (Aus) Lotto Soudal
OTL Romain Hardy (Fra) Arkea-Samsic
DNF Dries Devenyns (Bel) Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl Team
DNF Mauro Schmid (Swi) Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl Team
DNF Louis Vervaeke (Bel) Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl Team
DNF Clement Venturini (Fra) AG2R Citroen Team
DNF Michael Gogl (Aut) Alpecin-Fenix
DNF Stefano Oldani (Ita) Alpecin-Fenix
DNF Gianni Vermeersch (Bel) Alpecin-Fenix
DNF Gianni Moscon (Ita) Astana Qazaqstan Team
DNF Leonardo Basso (Ita) Astana Qazaqstan Team
DNF Manuele Boaro (Ita) Astana Qazaqstan Team
DNF Michele Gazzoli (Ita) Astana Qazaqstan Team
DNF Miguel Angel Lopez Moreno (Col) Astana Qazaqstan Team
DNF Davide Martinelli (Ita) Astana Qazaqstan Team
DNF Matej Mohoric (Slo) Bahrain Victorious
DNF Heinrich Haussler (Aus) Bahrain Victorious
DNF Giovanni Visconti (Ita) Bardiani CSF Faizane’
DNF Johnatan Cañaveral Vargas (Col) Bardiani CSF Faizane’
DNF Filippo Fiorelli (Ita) Bardiani CSF Faizane’
DNF Alex Tolio (Ita) Bardiani CSF Faizane’
DNF Cesare Benedetti (Pol) Bora-Hansgrohe
DNF Patrick Konrad (Aut) Bora-Hansgrohe
DNF Juan Diego Alba Bolivar (Col) Drone Hopper-Androni Giocattoli
DNF Umberto Marengo (Ita) Drone Hopper-Androni Giocattoli
DNF Gabriele Benedetti (Ita) Drone Hopper-Androni Giocattoli
DNF Edoardo Zardini (Ita) Drone Hopper-Androni Giocattoli
DNF Ben Healy (Irl) EF Education-EasyPost
DNF Simone Bevilacqua (Ita) Eolo-Kometa Cycling Team
DNF Márton Dina (Hun) Eolo-Kometa Cycling Team
DNF Antoine Duchesne (Can) Groupama-FDJ
DNF Salvatore Puccio (Ita) Ineos Grenadiers
DNF Ben Swift (GBr) Ineos Grenadiers
DNF Jan Bakelants (Bel) Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux
DNF Théo Delacroix (Fra) Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux
DNF Domenico Pozzovivo (Ita) Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux
DNF Matthias Brändle (Aut) Israel-Premier Tech
DNF Taj Jones (Aus) Israel-Premier Tech
DNF Guy Sagiv (Isr) Israel-Premier Tech
DNF Tiesj Benoot (Bel) Jumbo-Visma
DNF Victor Campenaerts (Bel) Lotto Soudal
DNF Brent Van Moer (Bel) Lotto Soudal
DNF Jorge Arcas (Spa) Movistar Team
DNF Luis Mas Bonet (Spa) Movistar Team
DNF Einer Rubio Reyes (Col) Movistar Team
DNF Elie Gesbert (Fra) Arkea-Samsic
DNF Michael Matthews (Aus) BikeExchange-Jayco
DNF Sam Bewley (NZl) BikeExchange-Jayco
DNF Tsgabu Grmay (Eth) BikeExchange-Jayco
DNF Alexander Konychev (Ita) BikeExchange-Jayco
DNF Matteo Sobrero (Ita) BikeExchange-Jayco
DNF Nikias Arndt (Ger) Team DSM
DNF Marco Brenner (Ger) Team DSM
DNF Christopher Hamilton (Aus) Team DSM
DNF Leon Heinschke (Ger) Team DSM
DNF Gianluca Brambilla (Ita) Trek-Segafredo
DNF Mikkel Bjerg (Den) UAE Team Emirates
DNF Maximiliano Richeze (Arg) UAE Team Emirates
DNF Vegard Stake Laengen (Nor) UAE Team Emirates
DNS Alejandro Osorio Carvajal (Col) Bahrain Victorious
DNS Simone Ravanelli (Ita) Drone Hopper-Androni Giocattoli