All is set for Saturday 4 March, when the women’s and the men’s professional races will take place
‘Europe’s most southern northern classic’, organized by RCS Sport, is drawing close and today the 17th Strade Bianche Crédit Agricole provisional entry list was officially confirmed.
Click here to see the list of participants.
The big names at the start of the men’s race include the former winners Mathieu Van der Poel (2021), Julian Alaphilippe (2019), Tiesj Benoot (2018), Zdenek Stybar (2015) and Michal Kwiatkowski (2014, 2017). In case of a third victory, the 2014 Ponferrada World Champion would join Fabian Cancellara in having a gravel road sector named after him. Other top riders will be Thomas Pidcock, Matej Mohoric, Peter Sagan, Alberto Bettiol and Tim Wellens.
The route of the Strade Bianche Crédit Agricole
184km, 11 sectors and 63km on gravel roads.
The course is twisty and undulating, with no extended climbs but with quite a few punchy bits, especially on the unpaved sections of the route. There are roughly 63 km of gravel roads, across 11 sectors, eight of which are shared with the Women Elite course.
The race starts near the Stadium/Fortezza Medicea in Siena. The first undulating kilometers on tarmac lead to the 2.1 km-long gravel sector 1 at km 18, which is perfectly straight and slightly downhill. Sector 2 (5.8 km) is just a few kilometers away; this will be the first tricky bit of the race, with a short descent followed by a long climb featuring sections over 10%. Upon reaching Radi, the route takes in the third gravel sector (4.4 km long; namely the second part of the first gravel road stretch of the race’s first edition) shortly followed by sector 4 – named “La Piana” – one of the race's classic gravel sectors (5.5 km in length, and featured in the course ever since the first edition) with no significant gradient, leading to Buonconvento.
The Montalcino climb, the second ascent of the day (4km at 5%), is just a few kilometers away. Sectors 5 (11.9 km) and 6 (8 km) begin just past Torrenieri, with only 1 km of tarmac in between. Both are hard, hilly and very punchy, with many challenging bends, climbs and descents. After the second pass through Buonconvento, the riders will reach the feed zone, located around Ponte d’Arbia. Shortly after, the route reaches Monteroni d’Arbia, which marks the beginning of sector 7 of San Martino in Grania (9.5 km) in the middle of the Crete Senesi. It’s a long sector marked by a sequence of gentle undulations in the first part, and ending with a twisting climb that leads back to paved road.
Sector 8 begins in Ponte del Garbo (Asciano). At 11.5 km, it’s the hardest of the race, mostly uphill and marked by major slopes, especially near Monte Sante Marie, with steep gradients on both climbs and descents over short distances. Past Castelnuovo Berardenga there’s a very short, flat unpaved section (300 m) followed by the ninth dirt road sector, after Monteaperti. At only 800 m in length, it greets the riders with double-digit gradients. The route goes back on tarmac in Vico d’Arbia and then to paved road through Pieve a Bozzone.
The penultimate gravel section (sector 10, 2.4 km) comes next, on the climb toward Colle Pinzuto, with gradients peaking as high as 15%. After a few kilometers, the route features the eleventh and last gravel sector 11 (1.1 km), marked by a fast-running descent followed by a very punchy climb (with a maximum gradient of 18%) that ends at the Tolfe. From here, the finish in Piazza del Campo, Siena, is a little more than 12 km away.
The demanding final kilometers, with gradients up to 16%, approach the city of Siena along wide and straight roads, connected by sweeping curves, initially downhill, and further on slightly uphill. With 2 km to go to the finish, the route takes the Via Esterna di Fontebranda; here the gradient touches 9%.
The stone pavement begins 900 m before the finish line, just past the Fontebranda Gate. The gradient is over 10% until 500 m from the finish, reaching its steepest gradient of 16% along Via Santa Caterina. A sharp right-hand turn leads to Via delle Terme, and then to Via Banchi di Sotto. Starting 300 m to the finish onwards, the road is a slight, continuous ascent. With 150 m to go, a right turn leads into Via Rinaldini. The route enters the Piazza del Campo just 70 m from the finish line. The final 30 m descend at a gradient of 7% to the finish line, which is on level road.