March 5, 2016
Strade Bianche 2016 – Siena – Siena : 176 km
Italy’s Strade Bianche has quickly become a Classic one-day race, with the hilly dirt roads of Tuscany selecting the strongest and bravest riders before the finale on the steep climb into historic Siena and then the finish in the Piazza del Campo that also hosts the summer Palio horse race.
March 5, 2016
Strade Bianche 2016 – Siena – Siena : 176 km
Italy’s Strade Bianche has quickly become a Classic one-day race, with the hilly dirt roads of Tuscany selecting the strongest and bravest riders before the finale on the steep climb into historic Siena and then the finish in the Piazza del Campo that also hosts the summer Palio horse race. The 2016 edition of the race again follows a now traditional route, with 176km of racing that includes nine sectors of dirt roads or strade bianche. Defending champion Zdenek Stybar (Etixx-Quickstep) will be back in 2016, but will have to face off against an on-form Fabian Cancellara (Trek-Segafredo), world champion Peter Sagan (Tinkoff) and last year’s runner-up Greg Van Avermaet (BMC). A total of 18 teams will be in action. The race begins and ends in Siena, with a 176km loop south mixed with a total of 52.8km off-road.
Fabian Cancellara won his third Strade Bianche on Saturday, edging out last year’s winner Zdenek Stybar (Etixx-QuickStep) in a thrilling finale on the tight streets of Siena.
Stybar’s teammate, Gianluca Brambilla came home in third having done his best to soften up the lead group that had formed on the penultimate sector of dirt track. The other member of that group was Peter Sagan (Tinkoff), who rolled in behind for fourth.
The Italian race, first run in 2007, has quickly established itself as a popular event in the course of the Spring Classics, and a firm favourite in the eyes of Cancellara, who has now written himself into Strade Bianche legend. The race organisers promised to name a sector of the iconic dirt track after him if he took his third win, and the jubilant Swiss rider raised three fingers as he crossed the line before celebrating wildly with his camp and lifting his bike above his head.
“This year I really want to go out with a bang,” Cancellara said. “I want to thank all my teammates for supporting me today, and all these years. This is just amazing!
“I knew that Stybar is a cyclo-cross guy, so I had to be careful for him. He won last year as well, and he is very good at this last climb. I am very, very happy. Third time…and now they will name a white gravel section after me, and that’s exciting.”
The 34-year-old was alive to the threat when Sagan attacked from a massively thinned-out bunch on the penultimate sector with just under 20km to go, forming the crucial selection. Sagan caught lone leader Brambilla, who had been in a four-man move in the second half of the race, Stybar joined, and Cancellara bridged across.
Etixx-QuickStep had the extra man but, unlike at the 2015 Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, they didn’t come away empty-handed through tactical shortcomings – but rather Cancellara’s superior strength and know-how.
As expected, Brambilla put in multiple attacks to soften up Sagan and Cancellara, and he actually managed to hold a lead from 5km to 500m to go. The Italian, however, buckled on the viciously steep climb up towards the Piazza del Campo and was cooked as he crested it. Cancellara and Stybar were soon round him and Cancellara, crucially, managed to lead through a sharp right-hand band with 100m to go. With the road heading downhill to the line, that was the moment he secured the victory, and Stybar was never going to get round.
“I made the pace on the final climb because I knew that Sagan would not do it because I saw him already in a little bit of difficulty. I knew that it was probably going to be Stybar and me, so I had to play like this,” Cancellara said.
“This is special. I had to play at the end, it was a lottery. I knew I had to risk. I had trust in myself; it was experience. I knew that Etixx was going to play the team game and I just had to make sure that Brambilla did not take too much time.
“The most decisive moment was when Peter made the acceleration and I managed to jump up to him and Stybar. It wasn’t a big collaboration between us because we are all big riders, plus Etixx had a team game to play. I think my work in the last 5 kilometers was risky, but it was the only way. It all worked out and I am proud.”
A group of other pre-race favourites, including Alejandro Valverde, Greg Van Avermaet, and Jakob Fuglsang, rolled across the line disjointedly around half a minute later after giving chase ever since Sagan’s acceleration. Vincenzo Nibali and Michal Kwiatkowski were initially part of that chase group but fell away with 10km remaining.
How it happened
At the start in Siena the riders looked worryingly at the grey clouds and trees moving in the wind, knowing the conditions would make for an extra hard edition of the Strade Bianche.
The riders were wrapped up against the cold, with many wearing leg warmers and gilets. Peter Sagan (Tinkoff) was called to the front but kept his white rainbow jersey covered up with a black jacket.
The race rolled out of Siena on time at 11:00am, with Adam Yates (Orica-GreenEdge) the only non-starter. The early break of the day formed quickly with eight riders in the move. They were Jesse Sergeant (AG2R-La Mondiale), Tom Van Asbroeck (LottoNL-Jumbo), Marcin Mrozek (CCC Sprandi Polkowice), Tiziano Dall’Antonia (Androni Giocattoli), Lorenzo Rota (Bardiani-CSF), Riccardo Stacchiotti (Nippo Vini Fantini), and the Lotto Soudal duo of Jens Debuscherre and Pim Ligthart.
All the big-name favourites preferred to stay in the peloton as the riders fought the stiff head wind and the early sectors of dirt roads helped the break open a lead of four minutes.
The third sector of dirt road lasted 11.9km and was the longest of the race. It sparked the first natural selection, with the peloton splitting into three groups after a surge by Etixx-QuickStep. The break was only a minute ahead but they were allowed more freedom as the peloton caught its breath behind. On the fifth and sixth sectors of dirt road the rolling hills and tough gradients took their toll, with Rota dropped from the break as the gap fell below a minute. The race returned to ‘gruppo compatto’ after 106km of racing.
Other riders immediately attacked and another move went away, with Gianluca Brambilla (Etixx – QuickStep), Andriy Grivko (Astana), Brent Bookwalter (BMC), Maxime Monfort (Lotto Soudal) and Salvatore Puccio (Team Sky) all ready to play a strategic role for their team leaders.
Damiano Cunego (Nippo- Vini Fantini) crashed hard on a sector of dirt road, reportedly fracturing his wrist. Other riders also crashed or suffered punctures, quickly taking them out of the race. Only 60 or so riders remained in the peloton as the crosswinds also shredded the peloton.
Upfront, as the 11.5km-long sector six began to bite, first Grivko lost contact and then Puccio had a mechanical problem, seemingly dropping his chain. He dropped out of the break and was swept up by the remains of the peloton. Another problem unfortunately lost him his place in the peloton but as the gap closed, his teammate Lars Petter Nordhaug tried to jump across to the break. He got to within 20 seconds but eventually sat up.
Only the strongest teams had several riders I the front group at this point, with 35km to go, with Sagan surprisingly lacking support in numbers. Bookwalter, Brambilla, Monfort and Grivko – who had managed to got back on – were left to hang out front but their lead was down to 40 seconds as the road headed back towards Siena on normal roads. It was a moment of hesitation before the decisive final three sectors of dirt roads on nasty climbs.
On the Monteaparti sector of dirt roads – number 7 – Brambilla attacked to split the break and eventually distance Bookwalter to power on alone to be up front to help Stybar. It was a perfect move.
Behind, with 19km to go, as the riders tasted the dirt of sector 8, the race exploded when Sagan attacked from the chase group. He blew the group apart and put his cards on the table. Only Stybar and eventually Cancellara managed to get up to him, as the others struggled behind.
The four worked together with Brambilla giving his all. Behind Fuglsang tried to jump across from an eight-rider group but was marked by a Cancellara’s teammate Jasper Stuyven. With 14.4km to go Cancellara surged clear but was quickly chased down by Stybar with Sagan and Brambilla on his wheel.
Cancellara chased down when Brambilla threw in his first softener, but when the Italian went away he was allowed to go clear, and held a lead of around 5-10 seconds all the way to the town centre under the flame rouge. Cancellara and Stybar gapped Sagan on the sharp climb in the final 800 metres and, once past the ailing Brambilla, the man they call ‘Spartacus’ used his know-how and positioning to get the edge on his rival, and prevent him from equaling his win tally in the race.
1 Fabian Cancellara (Swi) Trek-Segafredo 4:39:35
2 Zdenek Stybar (Cze) Etixx – Quick-Step
3 Gianluca Brambilla (Ita) Etixx – Quick-Step 0:00:04
4 Peter Sagan (Svk) Tinkoff Team 0:00:13
5 Petr Vakoc (Cze) Etixx – Quick-Step 0:00:34
6 Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) BMC Racing Team 0:00:37
7 Diego Ulissi (Ita) Lampre – Merida 0:00:41
8 Tiesj Benoot (Bel) Lotto Soudal
9 Lars Petter Nordhaug (Nor) Team Sky
10 Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar Team 0:00:50
11 Jakob Fuglsang (Den) Astana Pro Team 0:00:52
12 Brent Bookwalter (USA) BMC Racing Team 0:01:53
13 Jay McCarthy (Aus) Tinkoff Team 0:02:02
14 Daniel Oss (Ita) BMC Racing Team
15 Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Astana Pro Team
16 Giovanni Visconti (Ita) Movistar Team 0:02:22
17 Bob Jungels (Lux) Etixx – Quick-Step 0:02:24
18 Gianni Moscon (Ita) Team Sky 0:02:25
19 Matteo Trentin (Ita) Etixx – Quick-Step
20 Michal Kwiatkowski (Pol) Team Sky
21 Andriy Grivko (Ukr) Astana Pro Team 0:02:26
22 Robert Gesink (Ned) Team LottoNl-Jumbo
23 Grega Bole (Slo) Nippo – Vini Fantini 0:02:41
24 Davide Rebellin (Ita) CCC Sprandi Polkowice 0:05:15
25 Tomasz Marczynski (Pol) Lotto Soudal
26 Jasper Stuyven (Bel) Trek-Segafredo 0:05:18
27 Julien Vermote (Bel) Etixx – Quick-Step
28 Bart De Clercq (Bel) Lotto Soudal 0:05:25
29 Jan Bakelants (Bel) AG2R La Mondiale 0:05:27
30 Matteo Busato (Ita) Southeast – Venezuela 0:05:30
31 Luke Durbridge (Aus) Orica-GreenEdge
32 Sonny Colbrelli (Ita) Bardiani CSF 0:05:35
33 Sébastien Turgot (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale 0:05:37
34 Manuele Boaro (Ita) Tinkoff Team 0:05:45
35 Jens Keukeleire (Bel) Orica-GreenEdge 0:05:48
36 Gatis Smukulis (Lat) Astana Pro Team 0:07:55
37 Bakhtiyar Kozhatayev (Kaz) Astana Pro Team
38 Maxime Monfort (Bel) Lotto Soudal
39 Davide Vigano (Ita) Androni Giocattoli – Sidermec
40 Michal Golas (Pol) Team Sky
41 Simone Ponzi (Ita) CCC Sprandi Polkowice 0:08:01
42 Andrey Amador (CRc) Movistar Team 0:12:18
43 Salvatore Puccio (Ita) Team Sky 0:12:58
44 Maciej Bodnar (Pol) Tinkoff Team 0:13:00
45 Jurgen Roelandts (Bel) Lotto Soudal 0:13:01
46 Alessandro De Marchi (Ita) BMC Racing Team
47 Damiano Caruso (Ita) BMC Racing Team 0:16:02
48 Pim Ligthart (Ned) Lotto Soudal
49 Bertjan Lindeman (Ned) Team LottoNl-Jumbo 0:16:04
50 Dayer Quintana (Col) Movistar Team
51 Sébastien Minard (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale
52 Jean-Pierre Drucker (Lux) BMC Racing Team
53 Eduard Michael Grosu (Rom) Nippo – Vini Fantini
54 Daniele Bennati (Ita) Tinkoff Team
55 Jasha Sütterlin (Ger) Movistar Team 0:19:43
56 Hugo Houle (Can) AG2R La Mondiale 0:21:20
57 Timo Roosen (Ned) Team LottoNl-Jumbo
58 Guillaume Bonnafond (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale
59 Kiel Reijnen (USA) Trek-Segafredo
60 Jack Haig (Aus) Orica-GreenEdge
61 Marcin Mrozek (Pol) CCC Sprandi Polkowice 0:21:23
62 Jesse Sergent (NZl) AG2R La Mondiale
63 Filippo Pozzato (Ita) Southeast – Venezuela 0:24:15
64 Przemyslaw Niemiec (Pol) Lampre – Merida
65 Charles Planet (Fra) Team Novo Nordisk
66 Mirko Selvaggi (Ita) Androni Giocattoli – Sidermec
67 Tiziano Dall’Antonia (Ita) Androni Giocattoli – Sidermec
68 Federico Zurlo (Ita) Lampre – Merida
69 Martijn Verschoor (Ned) Team Novo Nordisk
70 Eros Capecchi (Ita) Astana Pro Team
71 Tom Van Asbroeck (Bel) Team LottoNl-Jumbo
72 Mike Teunissen (Ned) Team LottoNl-Jumbo
73 Daniel Martínez (Col) Southeast – Venezuela
74 Primoz Roglic (Slo) Team LottoNl-Jumbo
75 Lukasz Owsian (Pol) CCC Sprandi Polkowice
76 Taylor Phinney (USA) BMC Racing Team
77 Tony Martin (Ger) Etixx – Quick-Step
78 Christian Knees (Ger) Team Sky
79 Marco Bandiera (Ita) Androni Giocattoli – Sidermec
80 Marco Frapporti (Ita) Androni Giocattoli – Sidermec
81 Oscar Gatto (Ita) Tinkoff Team
82 Alessandro Tonelli (Ita) Bardiani CSF 0:30:37
83 Giorgio Cecchinel (Ita) Androni Giocattoli – Sidermec
84 Marco Coledan (Ita) Trek-Segafredo 0:30:40
85 Eugert Zhupa (Alb) Southeast – Venezuela 0:31:43
OTL Przemyslaw Niemiec (Pol) Lampre – Merida
OTL Charles Planet (Fra) Team Novo Nordisk
OTL Mirko Selvaggi (Ita) Androni Giocattoli – Sidermec
OTL Tiziano Dall’Antonia (Ita) Androni Giocattoli – Sidermec
OTL Federico Zurlo (Ita) Lampre – Merida
OTL Martijn Verschoor (Ned) Team Novo Nordisk
OTL Andriy Grivko (Ukr) Astana Pro Team
OTL Tom Van Asbroeck (Bel) Team LottoNl-Jumbo
OTL Mike Teunissen (Ned) Team LottoNl-Jumbo
OTL Daniel Martínez (Col) Southeast – Venezuela
OTL Primoz Roglic (Slo) Team LottoNl-Jumbo
OTL Lukasz Owsian (Pol) CCC Sprandi Polkowice
OTL Taylor Phinney (USA) BMC Racing Team
OTL Tony Martin (Ger) Etixx – Quick-Step
OTL Christian Knees (Ger) Team Sky
OTL Marco Bandiera (Ita) Androni Giocattoli – Sidermec
OTL Marco Frapporti (Ita) Androni Giocattoli – Sidermec
OTL Oscar Gatto (Ita) Tinkoff Team
OTL Alessandro Tonelli (Ita) Bardiani CSF
OTL Giorgio Cecchinel (Ita) Androni Giocattoli – Sidermec
OTL Marco Coledan (Ita) Trek-Segafredo
OTL Eugert Zhupa (Alb) Southeast – Venezuela
DNF Yves Lampaert (Bel) Etixx – Quick-Step
DNF Hubert Dupont (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale
DNF Matteo Montaguti (Ita) AG2R La Mondiale
DNF Daniele Ratto (Ita) Androni Giocattoli – Sidermec
DNF Serghei Tvetcov (Rom) Androni Giocattoli – Sidermec
DNF Valerio Agnoli (Ita) Astana Pro Team
DNF Michele Scarponi (Ita) Astana Pro Team
DNF Simone Andreetta (Ita) Bardiani CSF
DNF Enrico Barbin (Ita) Bardiani CSF
DNF Nicola Boem (Ita) Bardiani CSF
DNF Stefano Pirazzi (Ita) Bardiani CSF
DNF Lorenzo Rota (Ita) Bardiani CSF
DNF Luca Sterbini (Ita) Bardiani CSF
DNF Manuel Quinziato (Ita) BMC Racing Team
DNF Victor De La Parte (Spa) CCC Sprandi Polkowice
DNF Felix Grosschartner (Aut) CCC Sprandi Polkowice
DNF Nikolay Mihaylov (Bul) CCC Sprandi Polkowice
DNF Maciej Paterski (Pol) CCC Sprandi Polkowice
DNF Mattia Cattaneo (Ita) Lampre – Merida
DNF Roberto Ferrari (Ita) Lampre – Merida
DNF Sacha Modolo (Ita) Lampre – Merida
DNF Manuele Mori (Ita) Lampre – Merida
DNF Xu Gang (Tpe) Lampre – Merida
DNF Jens Debusschere (Bel) Lotto Soudal
DNF Rafael Valls Ferri (Spa) Lotto Soudal
DNF Jorge Arcas Pena (Spa) Movistar Team
DNF Marc Soler (Spa) Movistar Team
DNF Francisco Ventoso (Spa) Movistar Team
DNF Alessandro Bisolti (Ita) Nippo – Vini Fantini
DNF Damiano Cunego (Ita) Nippo – Vini Fantini
DNF Pier Paolo De Negri (Ita) Nippo – Vini Fantini
DNF Iuri Filosi (Ita) Nippo – Vini Fantini
DNF Antonio Nibali (Ita) Nippo – Vini Fantini
DNF Riccardo Stacchiotti (Ita) Nippo – Vini Fantini
DNF Alexander Edmondson (Aus) Orica-GreenEdge
DNF Damien Howson (Aus) Orica-GreenEdge
DNF Christopher Juul Jensen (Den) Orica-GreenEdge
DNF Christian Meier (Can) Orica-GreenEdge
DNF Manuel Belletti (Ita) Southeast – Venezuela
DNF Enrique Sanz (Spa) Southeast – Venezuela
DNF Mirko Tedeschi (Ita) Southeast – Venezuela
DNF Mirko Trosino (Ita) Southeast – Venezuela
DNF Enrico Battaglin (Ita) Team LottoNl-Jumbo
DNF Thomas Leezer (Ned) Team LottoNl-Jumbo
DNF Kevin De Mesmaeker (Bel) Team Novo Nordisk
DNF Joonas Henttala (Fin) Team Novo Nordisk
DNF Brian Kamstra (Ned) Team Novo Nordisk
DNF David Lozano Riba (Spa) Team Novo Nordisk
DNF Javier Megias (Spa) Team Novo Nordisk
DNF Stephen Clancy (Irl) Team Novo Nordisk
DNF Andrew Fenn (GBr) Team Sky
DNF Peter Kennaugh (GBr) Team Sky
DNF Adam Blythe (GBr) Tinkoff Team
DNF Nikolay Trusov (Rus) Tinkoff Team
DNF Stijn Devolder (Bel) Trek-Segafredo
DNF Markel Irizar (Spa) Trek-Segafredo
DNF Julien Bernard (Fra) Trek-Segafredo
DNF Yaroslav Popovych (Ukr) Trek-Segafredo
DNF Filippo Pozzato (Ita) Southeast – Venezuela