Tiesj Benoot (Lotto-Soudal) wins a Brutal Mud Infested Strade Bianche
Weather conditions for Strade Bianche were difficult to say the least, after heavy snow followed by heavy rain, it turned the Strade Bianche from white to dirty brown
After the second sector of gravel, Bagnaia, the peloton split into two with leading group of riders with 30s on the main peloton.
After 50km, the gap between the large leading group of 70 riders widened to 2m 30s in front of the rest of the peloton.
Due to the weather and race radio, it wasn't until 116 kms to go that the 10 riders in the breakaway were being confirmed; Edvald Boasson Hagen (Dimension Data), Mark Padun (Bahrain-Merida), Sepp Kuss (Lotto Nl-Jumbo), Valentin Madouas (FDJ), Victor Campenaerts (Lotto-Soudal), and 5 other riders with a lead of 5 mins over the peloton.
It was at this point that Team Sky lead the peloton, and the gap to the break has come down to a more manageable 3m 30s.
Meanwhile in the women's race Anna van der Breggen had the last gravel section to ride and was set on course for victory in Siena, the men still had exactly 100 kilometers to go. Van der Breggen took an incredible victory. Niewiadoma finished second, 49 seconds down, and Longo Borghini third, a further 10 seconds back.
Team Sky kept reeling the breakway back, its down to 1m 20 secs before the 7th sector of the day, San Martino in Grania with around 70 kms to go.
8 of the 10 riders in the breakaway were; Pierre Latour, Quentin Jauregui (AG2R La Mondiale), Edvald Boasson Hagen (Dimension Data), Truls Korsaeth (Astana), Mark Padun (Bahrain-Merida), Valentin Madouas (FDJ), Victor Campenaerts (Lotto Soudal), Sepp Kuss (LottoNL-Jumbo)
Into the final 75km of racing and the breakaway were are at 1m 25s ahead of a chasing peloton reduced to around 30 riders
Oss, Küng, Latour, Power, Kragh Andersen, Madouas, Rojas, Kwiatkowski, Valverde and Van Aert were in the second group, it was still more than 53 kilometers to the finish. 2nd group contained Stybar, Vanmarcke, Benoot and Sagan. Van Avermaet was nowhere to be seen.
With 44kms to go Van Aert (Veranda's Willems) and Bardet (Ag2r La Mondiale) attacked and rode away Serry (Quick Step Floors) and Benoot (Lotto-Soudal) and Moscon and Puccio (Sky), Latour (AG2r La Mondiale), Visconti (Bahrain-Merida), Kung (BMC), Madouas (FDJ), Amador (Movistar), Muhlberger (Bora-hansgrohe) chasing.
After the penultimate strade bianche sector 10, the Colle Pinzuto, Teisj Benoot (Lotto-Soudal) attacked Serry and to chased down the two leaders Bardet and and Van Aert. Benoot joins leaders Van Aert and Bardet, with 15 kms to go.
With 12 kms to go, Teisj Benoot (Lotto-Soudal) attacked the duo on the Colle Pinzuto dropping Bardet and Van Aert and solo'd to the line.
Tiesj Benoot said afterwards “After the break with Victor Campenaerts had been caught, Victor did a lot of pulling. When there was no cooperation in the group anymore, both sports director Bart Leysen and I thought it would be best to attack. That turned out to be the right decision. The same scenario got repeated when Bardet and Van Aert rode together at the front. I felt my legs were good and that I had to try something, because there was no team left that would close the gap. Serry was the perfect companion, he immediately helped chasing. I noticed that I was better than him though and that’s why I decided to leave him behind. I knew the part where I accelerated from the past two years and I knew that it would be possible to still close the gap. I succeeded in closing the gap pretty smoothly and then I realized I was the strongest at the front. I attacked on the last gravel sector and immediately had a nice lead. Then it was a matter of not crashing and having no flat tyre. When the team car rode behind me, I was less worried. I didn’t want to let my first pro victory slip through my fingers!”
Tiesj Benoot: “I had a super day. It was cold and it rained, but I never had problems with that kind of weather. The Strade Bianche is one of my favourite races and one of the races that suits me best. Only strong riders have won this race and it’s wonderful to see my name among them! The altitude training camp at Sierra Nevada clearly was the perfect preparation. If this first pro victory adds any pressure? The expectations have always been high since I got fifth at Ronde van Vlaanderen 2015 as a neo-pro. I can cope with that really well. I always kept believing in myself and I knew this victory would come one day.”???????
VIDEO: 2018 Strade Bianche Men's Race Highlights
2018 Strade Bianche Men's Race Top 10
1 Tiesj Benoot (Bel) Lotto Soudal 5:03:33
2 Romain Bardet (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale 0:00:39
3 Wout Van Aert (Bel) Veranda's Willems Crelan 0:00:58
4 Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar Team 0:01:25
5 Giovanni Visconti (Ita) Bahrain-Merida 0:01:27
6 Robert Power (Aus) Mitchelton-Scott 0:01:29
7 Zdenek Stybar (Cze) Quick-Step Floors 0:01:42
8 Peter Sagan (Svk) Bora-Hansgrohe 0:02:08
9 Pieter Serry (Bel) Quick-Step Floors 0:02:11
10 Gregor Mühlberger (Aut) Bora-Hansgrohe 0:02:16
11 Matej Mohoric (Slo) Bahrain-Merida
VIDEO: 2018 Strade Bianche Women's Race Highlights
2018 Strade Bianche Women's Race Top 10
1 Anna van der Breggen (Ned) Boels Dolmans Cyclingteam 4:10:48
2 Katarzyna Niewiadoma (Pol) Canyon-SRAM Racing 0:00:49
3 Elisa Longo Borghini (Ita) Wiggle High5 0:00:59
4 Chantal Blaak (Ned) Boels Dolmans Cyclingteam 0:01:32
5 Lucy Kennedy (Aus) Mitchelton Scott Women
6 Janneke Ensing (Ned) Ale Cipollini 0:01:37
7 Amanda Spratt (Aus) Mitchelton Scott Women 0:01:41
8 Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio (RSA) Cervelo - Bigla Pro Cycling Team 0:02:25
9 Ellen van Dijk (Ned) Team Sunweb Women 0:02:36
10 Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig (Den) Cervelo - Bigla Pro Cycling Team 0:02:50