Pro's prepare for battle on the White Roads of Tuscany at Strade Bianche
With its gravel roads and punchy climbs, Strade Bianche has always suited the Classics specialists
The most successful rider ever at Strade Bianche is Fabian Cancellara with three victories in 2008, 2012 and 2016. Tadej Pogacar won covincingly last year. He attacked 50km out and soloed to the win on Siena’s Piazza del Campo, 37 seconds ahead of Alejandro Valverde and 46 over Kasper Asgreen.
The Strade Bianche women’s race on the same day covers 136km, as against the men’s 184km, and includes eight strada bianca sections rather than the 11 sections in the men’s race.
Last year, Lotte Kopecky of SD Worx matched Annemiek van Vleuten on the Via Santa Caterina and powered round the final bends to take a stunning victory. That denied Van Vleuten a third win, after 2019 and 2020, something that she’s sure to want to rectify in 2023, her final season before retirement.
Taking place on Saturday 4th March, Strade Bianche is the third major one-day road race of the season, coming the weekend after the season-opening double of Omloop Het Nieuwsblad and Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne.
Now well settled into its route, the men’s 2023 Strade Bianche will be 184km long, tackling 11 sections of the ‘strade bianche’ (white roads) through the rolling hills of Tuscany on its out and back loop from Siena.
The 11 sections of gravel road constitute 63km of the race, with sections lasting from as little as 800m up to the more challenging distance of 11.5km and 11.9km.
These two lengthy segments bookend further 8km and 9.5km sections, helping make the middle part of the race the most challenging and exciting.
The 11.5km section of gravel, Monte Sante Marie, is usually deemed the most difficult section, not only for that fact it takes the peloton on the unstable gravel road but that it is also predominantly uphill.
The gravel is not the only challenge for the peloton.
The climb towards Colle Pinzuto with lessthan 20km to go, features gradients up to 16% and the last section has a sequence of demanding descents followed by the brutal climb into Siena up Via Santa Caterina with a max gradient of 18% before coming back into Piazza del Campo to finish the race.
This climb has been the deciding factor in who has won the race on many occasions and has seen exhausted riders having to walk.
The 2023 Strade Bianche women’s race tackles eight sections of gravel roads totalling 31.6km out of the 136km route, with the race also starting and finishing in Siena. While the women’s peloton will not tackle the two 11km sections of gravel, it will take on the 9.5km uphill section of San Martino in Grania which will be the toughest part of the course. The women’s race also features the Colle Pinzuto climb and the demanding uphill finish taking it back into Siena.
Two-time Tour de France champion Tadej Pogacar has confirmed he will miss Strade-Bianche, so he can compete at Paris-Nice, where the UAE Emirates rider will meet Jonas Vingegaard. Pogacar and Vingegaard have only met once since their epic battle at last year’s Tour de France.
2023 Men's Strade Bianche Profile
2023 Men's Strade Bianche Map