On Saturday 4 March, the men’s and women’s professional races will take place on the traditional route, starting from the Fortezza Medicea and finishing in the iconic Piazza del Campo.
“Europe’s most southern northern classic”, organized by RCS Sport, is drawing close and today, with less than one month to Saturday 4 March, the routes of the 17th Strade Bianche Crédit Agricole e of the 9th Strade Bianche Women Elite Crédit Agricole have been officially confirmed. The two races, as per recent tradition, will start from the Fortezza Medicea in Siena and finish in the unique setting of Piazza del Campo in Siena, after 184km and 136km of riding for the male and female competitors respectively.
The route of the Strade Bianche Crédit Agricole
The Strade Bianche Crédit Agricole has become one of the most awaited races of the UCI World Tour calendar. The last rider to win in Piazza del Campo was the Slovenian Tadej Pogacar.
The course is twisty and undulating, with no extended climbs but with a quite few punchy bits, especially on the unpaved sections of the route. There are roughly 63km of gravel roads, across 11 sectors, eight of which are shared with the Women Elite course.
The race starts near the Stadium/Fortezza Medicean in Siena. The first undulating kilometers on tarmac lead to the 2.1km-long gravel Sector 1 at km 18, which is perfectly straight and slightly downhill. Sector 2 (5.8km) 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 (4.4km 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” – and one of the race’s classic gravel sectors (5.5km in length, and featured in the course ever since the first edition) with no significant gradient, leading to Buonconvento.
The Montalcino ascent, the second climb of the day (4km at 5%), is just few kilometres away. Sectors 5 (11.9km) and 6 (8km) begin just past Torrenieri with only 1km of tarmac in between. Both are hard, hilly and very punchy, with many challenging bends, climbs and descents. After the second passage 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 (9.5km) 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 11.5km 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 (300m) followed by the ninth dirt road sector, after Monteaperti. It’s only 800m in lenght, 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, 2.4km) 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 (1.1km) 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, 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, initially downhill, and further on and slightly uphill climbs. With 2km to go, 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 500m 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 300m to the finish onwards, the road is a slight, continous ascent. WIth 150mto go, a right turn leads into Via Rinaldini. The route enters the Piazza del Campo just 70m from the finish line. The final 30m descends at a gradient of 7% to the finish line, which is on level road.