Wout van Aert (Team Jumbo Visma) today won the fourteenth edition of the Strade Bianche, arriving alone at the Piazza del Campo in Siena to finally take the victory having finished in 3rd place the past two years.
A leading group of six riders Simon Pellaud and Nicola Bagioli (Androni Giocattoli-Sidermec), Corné Van Kessel (Circus-Wanty Gobert), Iuri Filosi (Bardiani-CSF-Faizanè), Quentin Pacher (B&B Hotels-Vital Concept) and Benjamin Declercq (Arkéa-Samsic) opened up a gap at the beginning of the race with their lead extending to 3’30”.
The high temperatures combined with the challenging gravel sectors made for a very tough 184 kilometres parcours and a number of the favourites struggled. Mathieu van der Poel (Alpecin-Fenix) and Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck-QuickStep) punctured and Vincenzo Nibali (Trek-Segafredo) was caught up in a crash.
With 100 kilometres remaining, all but Pellaud, had been reeled in by the bunch and the Frenchman was caught soon after as the big names came to the front.
A small group formed with 50 kilometres remaining consisting of Van Aert, Jakob Fuglsang (Astana), Alberto Bettiol (EF Pro Cycling), Greg Van Avermaet (CCC Team), Davide Formolo (UAE Team Emirates) and Maximilian Schachmann (Bora-Hansgrohe).
Van Avermaet was the first to get dropped and he was caught by a chasing group, leaving just five riders in front. On the last sector of the day, Van Aert attacked on the steep ramp and Formolo and Schachmann fought to reel in the Belgian.
However, Van Aert extended his lead on the descent to Siena and on the final climb to the finish to win comfortably with Formolo in second and Schachmann third.
“It was extremely exhausting”, Van Aert said. “I was the strongest in the last part of the race. Everyone in the leading group had good legs. I always believed in myself and in my plan. On the last sector I went full throttle and my technique worked to my advantage. It was an all-or-nothing attempt. Fortunately, it worked out very well.”
It is the ninth pro win for Van Aert. Amongst his previous wins were a stage of the Tour de France and two stages of the Critérium du Dauphiné.
“It was a goal to win this race sometime in my career. The fact that I have already succeeded makes me very proud. I live for these races. After a period of a lot of training, this naturally feels fantastic.”