Julian Alaphilippe of Deceunick-Quick Step became the first Frenchman to win the Strade Bianche in 13 editions of the race partly contested on gravel roads in Tuscany. He outclassed his last breakaway companion Jakob Fuglsang from Astana Pro Team in the narrow, uphill San Caterina street before reaching the magnificent Piazza del Campo in Siena. Just like one year ago, cyclo-cross star Wout van Aert, now racing for Team Jumbo-Visma, took third place.
STATISTIC OF THE DAY
Julian Alaphilippe is the first Frenchman on the record books of Strade Bianche. This is his first victory on Italian soil.
STRADE BIANCHE NAMEDSPORT FINAL RESULT
1 – Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck – Quick-Step) 184km in 4h47’14”, average speed 38.435km/h
2 – Jakob Fuglsang (Astana Pro Team) at 2”
3 – Wout Van Aert (Team Jumbo – Visma) at 27”
Annemiek van Vleuten returned to top form in time to claim her first Strade Bianche victory after she sustained a serious injury last year. The Dutch star rode away solo from the group of all the favorites with 12km to go while Danish rookie Annika Langvad created a surprise by finishing second. The Pole Katarzyna Niewiadoma made the podium once again!
STRADE BIANCHE WOMEN ELITE NAMEDSPORT FINAL RESULT
1 – Annemiek van Vleuten (Mitchelton – Scott) 136km in 3h48’49”, average speed 34.875km/h
2 – Annika Langvad (Boels Dolmans Cycling Team) at 37”
3 – Katarzyna Niewiadoma (Canyon // SRAM Racing) at 40”
The winner of Strade Bianche, Julian Alaphilippe, said in the press conference: “Strade Bianche was my first big goal of the season. I started pretty well in South America but I wanted to win here. I was very motivated with a strong team. It wasn’t easy to be the favorite of a race I never took part in previously but I’m quite used to the pressure now and I handle the situation pretty well. I felt heavy legs in the finale and Jakob Fuglsang was fresher than me. I had to arrive with him at the bottom of the San Caterina. I’m super happy that I made it. A cycling season is not only about the Flèche Wallonne and the Tour de France for me. I needed something new to motivate me, and that was Strade Bianche.”
Second placed Jakob Fuglsang said: “I’m happy to be on the podium of such a nice race but I felt really strong today and I wanted to win. I rode well but I lost so it’s a little bittersweet. I was thinking about how to beat Julian Alaphilippe but he was not so keen on working too hard so I knew that I had to somehow try to surprise him or to drop him in the last part of the last climb here before the finish. In a sprint finish, he was always going to be stronger than me. I tried a few times but nothing worked out.”
Third placed Wout van Aert, said: “The suffering was quite the same as last year when I did this race for the first time. In the last half hour of the race, I was in pain. I just lost the connection with Julian [Alaphilippe] and Jakob [Fuglsang] in the second last section. From then on, it was a long way of suffering. I’m happy that I survived and remained able to make the podium once again. Third place was definitely the highest possible for me today. When I came across to them, I was already on the limit and all I had in mind was to keep my pace to prevent anyone taking the third place from me. I never thought I could win. But I’ll definitely come back for winning Strade Bianche. This is my second podium in two participations. I hope one day everything will come together. This is a race where you get the reward when you dare to attack. That’s what I did for the second time in a row. I’m happy with the podium place I got but I want the top spot in the future.”
Annemiek van Vleuten, winner of Strade Bianche Women Elite, said in the Press Conference: “This victory at Strade Bianche stands in the top five of all the races I’ve won in my career. The finish in Siena is beautiful. I like to race in Italy but it’s really special to win on the Piazza del Campo at the end of a hectic and very hard race. After my crash last year, I thought it would be difficult to get back into the level I had last year and I usually struggle to get into shape in Spring. I was not supposed to race Het Nieuwsblad and Strade Bianche but those two races were added to my calendar after I realized I was at a higher level than I had thought. I’m very happy with this victory. It gives me the confidence that I can be in good shape in Spring also. The Ardennes classics are my next big target and later, the Giro d’Italia.”
Second placed Annika Langvad said: “I’m in shock. This is my first ever race on this level except for the World Championship I did last year. I can’t believe it. It’s just insane. It was such a tough race. At the gravelled Sector 4, I was wondering how I would make it till the end. I have very little experience with this. But I started to try and ride smarter and save myself. In the end, my teammates just worked like heroes. They sacrificed themselves for me. I felt it was such a big responsibility on my shoulders for my first road race with the team. When I went up the last climb neck to neck with Katia [Niewiadoma], I thought of all the work my teammates produced to put me up there, so I just gave everything and I’m so happy!”
Third placed Katarzyna Niewiadoma said: “I’m both happy and frustrated with being on the podium of Strade Bianche once again. I’m happy because I know that I gave everything. I’m frustrated because I didn’t win. But Annemiek [van Vleuten] was extremely strong and she’s a well-deserved winner. I wasn’t surprised when she attacked. The last 25km were very brutal. There were plenty of different attacks. Her move was definitely the strongest. I was going very deep. I just couldn’t hold her way up.”
TOMORROW – THE GRAN FONDO
Tomorrow, over the very same course as the women’s pro race today, the Gran Fondo will see 5,000 sportive riders taking on the Strade Bianche of the Terre di Siena.