Peter Sagan is back this weekend on the White Roads of Tuscany at Strade Bianche
The Strade Bianche (White Roads) is Italy’s version of Paris-Roubaix and held on the dirt roads of Tuscany with the finish in Siena.
Without having raced since the Tour Down Under in January, the leader of his Bora-Hansgrohe team, the triple world champion will be keen to win this prestigious Italian classic. One of Sagan’s big aims for the season is to add to his one day palmarés as he hopes to add to his monuments cycling tally that currently only holds his Tour of Flanders victory in 2016. Having raced in every edition since 2012, Sagan’s best result has seen him fall just short taking second place in both 2013 and 2014.
The world champion was a notable absence at Omloop Het Nieuwsblad and Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne, the latter being a race he actually won in 2017. Instead the Slovakian had opted to take to the high Sierra Nevada’s for a altitude training camp instead of battling it out in the lowlands.
When asked about his main goals and future plans, Sagan said that he would love to win Paris-Roubaix and Milan San Remo “For sure I’ll be in Italy for Strade Bianche and Tirreno-Adriatico before Milan-San Remo.”
He’ll be hoping that the time spent on the high roads of the Sierra Nevadas, will give him the edge he needs to take victory at the race.
“Strade Bianche is a race that is pretty honest, so I am looking forward too. It is one of my favorite races in the year, and I hope the weather is okay because I do not love the cold that much, or the rain. We will see how it goes, but I am feeling motivated again. Last year, I was second, and I have been on the podium a few times already so hopefully this year I can win,” Van Avermaet said. Next to him a real superteam - Alberto Bettiol (ITA), Damiano Caruso (ITA), Stefan Küng (SUI), Michael Schär (SUI), Francisco Ventoso (ESP) and Loïc Vliegen (BEL) - selected by diesse Valerio Piva.
"The Strade Bianche is a race that Greg loves , he has touched the win a couple of times and will be our leader. You can count a good team, I expect a lot from Alberto Bettiol , because for him it is the home race for him, together with Damiano Caruso and Stefan Küngthat in the end they must be with Greg. Obviously we have to be careful in every stage of the race, but I am convinced that we will have a good race. We also have strong guys like Francisco Ventoso, Michael Schär and Loïc Vliegen who will help Greg. The weather forecast is not good , we know, but we are ready to give our best, " explained Piva.
Unfortunately for Van Avermaet a huge cold snap has hit many parts of Europe and forecasts predict sub zero and windy conditions.
Jasper Stuyven is to lead Trek-Segafredo, the Belgian, fnished in fourth place on the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad last weekend is looking for a podium place. Indeed Trek has a string lineup including Jasper Stuyven . Unlike the Belgian, Fabio Felline has already achieved a top 10 in this classic, while Gianluca Brambilla was on the podium in 3rd in 2016.
The name Strade Bianche (Italian for White Streets) stems from the historic white gravel roads that are a defining feature of the race. More than 50 km of the total distance are raced on dirt roads. Despite its relatively short history, the Strade Bianche has quickly gained prestige. As from 2017, the event will be included in the UCI World Tour, cycling's highest level of professional road races. It is organized by RCS Sport - La Gazzetta dello Sport, and is held the weekend before Tirreno–Adriatico as an early spring precursor to the cobbled classics in April. Swiss Fabian Cancellara holds the record with three wins.
Since 2015, a women's event, the Strade Bianche Donne, is held on the same day as the men's race. The event is part of the UCI Women's World Tour and is raced at approximately half the distance of the men's race, containing 17 km of gravel roads spread over five sectors.