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Pogačar, Pidcock and many more, the Strade Bianche 2024 is a parade of stars


Anyone can win the Strade Bianche. In 17 editions we have seen all kinds of heavyweights fighting for glory, and it is no surprise that the 2024 start list looks once again extremely varied, featuring both classics hunters and Grand Tour riders.

It is only fair begin with the last two winners of the Sienese race, who will grace us with their presence once again. Tadej Pogačar (UAE Team Emirates) will kick start his ambitious season right here, before focusing on the legendary Giro d’Italia – Tour de France combo. Pogačar is a favourite in any race he presents, and we all know that if the Slovenian is in the bunch, his goal is not just winning, but doing so by putting on a show. Interesting statistic: since 2020, he has always won the first race of his season, be it a classic or a stage race. In 2022 he was the protagonist of a triumphant solo ride of over 50km, just as Tom Pidcock (Ineos Grenadiers) – arriving after the mud of cyclocross – did last year. Both will have real battleships doing the dirty work for them: the Slovenian will count on Marc Hirschi, who has always felt at ease on Italian roads, Tim Wellens and the young Mexican talent Isaac Del Toro, while the Briton will rely on the experience of Michal Kwiatkowski, winner in Piazza del Campo in 2014 and 2017, Geraint Thomas and the youth of Magnus Sheffield.

Special attention will have to be paid to EF Education-EasyPost, which is lining up a pretty impressive trio, with Ben Healy, Alberto Bettiol and Richard Carapaz, a dynamic trio who can do very well on a tough course like the Strade Bianche. The same goes for Team Visma|Lease a Bike, with European champion Christophe Laporte, Vuelta a España winner Sepp Kuss, and the always solid Attila Valter, already in the Top 5 in the last two editions. He never found his best day at the Strade Bianche, but world gravel champion Matej Mohorič (Bahrain Victorious) is certainly suited to the dust and technical complexities of this race, as are Mauro Schmid (Jayco AlUla), winner of the gravel stage at the Giro d’Italia 2021, arriving in Montalcino, a cyclo-cross rider like Quinten Hermans (Alpecin-Deceuninck), second at the Liège-Bastogne-Liège in 2022, and teammate and former gravel world champion Gianni Vermeersch.

With the route change, the interpretation of the race will have to be different than in recent years. Several riders will therefore try to join the fight for success and among them are certainly Julian Alaphilippe, winner in 2019, and Kasper Asgreen (Soudal-QuickStep), third in 2022, as well as Romain Bardet (dsm-firmenich PostNL), second in 2018, Davide Formolo (Movistar), second in 2020, Gianluca Brambilla (Q36. 5), third in 2016, and Valentin Madouas (Groupama-FDJ), second last year, all riders who have already stood on the podium in Siena.

Reported to be in great form is Toms Skujiņš, who was on fire at the Flemish opening weekend and who will captain Lidl-Trek together with Andrea Bagioli, while Decathlon AG2R La Mondiale, which will be betting on Benoît Cosnefroy, Andrea Vendrame and Bastien Tronchon, has also shown good signs at the start of the season.

Those hoping for a tough race right from the get-go are certainly riders like Filippo Zana (Jayco AlUla), Daniel Martinez, who held off Evenepoel in the Algarve, and Sergio Higuita, Lennard Kämna (Bora-hansgrohe), Guillaume Martin (Cofidis), the young Romain Grégoire and Lenny Martinez (Groupama-FDJ), winner of the Trofeo Laigueglia a few days ago, Maxim Van Gils and Lennert Van Eetvelt (Lotto Dstny), winner in style of the UAE Tour.

The outsiders include Italian champion Simone Velasco (Astana Qazaqstan), Lorenzo Rota and Francesco Busatto (Intermarché-Wanty), Vincenzo Albanese and Kévin Vauquelin (Arkéa-B&B Hotels), Krists Neilands and Dylan Teuns (Israel-PremierTech), Andreas Kron (Lotto Dstny), Iván García Cortina (Movistar), Warren Barguil (dsm-firmenich PostNL), rising star and biker Paul Magnier (Soudal-QuickStep) and Magnus Cort Nielsen (Uno-X Mobility).

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