7th STRADE BIANCHE WOMEN ELITE Eolo – 136km, eight sectors and 31.4km on gravel roads (23.1% of the course).
THE ROUTE OF STRADE BIANCHE EOLO
It’s a twisty and undulating course, with no long climbs but punchy hills, most significantly 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’s elite course.
Starting from Siena, the initial undulating kilometers are on asphalt before reaching the 2.1km-long gravel Sector 1 at km 18, which is perfectly straight and slightly downhill. After a few kilometers the riders then face Sector 2 (5.8km), the first real challenge with a short descent followed by a long climb with sections of over 10% gradient. The course then goes through Radi, where gravel Sector 3 starts (4.4km long; the second part of what was gravel Sector 1 in 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.
A few kilometers later, the second climb of the day begins: the Montalcino (4km at 5%). Following Torrenieri the riders face Sectors 5 (11.9km) and 6 (8km) 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 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 with continuous ups and downs in the first part, culminating with a twisting climb before meeting the tarmac once again.
In Ponte del Garbo (Asciano) gravel Sector 8 begins. At 11.5km it’s the hardest of the race, mostly uphill and characterised by tough hills, the most important being those close to Monte Sante Marie where there are steep gradients on both climbs and descents over short distances. After Castelnuovo Berardenga there’s a very short, flat section of gravel (300m) before facing, after Monteaperti, Sector 9 – it’s only 800m long, but greets the riders with a double-digit gradient ramp before they rejoin the tarmac in Vico d’Arbia and then a paved road through Pieve a Bozzone.
Next comes the penultimate section of gravel (Sector 10, 2.4km) on the climb toward Colle Pinzuto, with gradients of up to 15%. After a few kilometers, the riders then face the last gravel section (Sector 11, 1.1km), which features a sequence of demanding descents followed by a very punchy climb (with a maximum gradient of 18%) that ends at the Tolfe. From there, only 12km separate the riders from the finish in Piazza del Campo, Siena.
The demanding final kilometers, with gradients up to 16%, approach the city of Siena along broad, straight sections of road, connected by sweeping curves, first descents and then slight climbs. At 2km from the finish line, the route joins Via Esterna di Fontebranda; here the gradient touches 9%.
With 900m to go to the finish line, the race route passes beneath Fontebranda Gate where the road surface becomes paving slabs. The gradient then exceeds 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 Via Banchi di Sotto. With 300m to go, the road continues to climb slightly then, 150m from the line, 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 itself, which is flat.
Strade Bianche Eolo International TV Schedule available here.