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Strade Bianche Women, land of Dutch conquest


The only nation to have won the Strade Bianche Women more than once is the Netherlands. In the nine editions that have been held since the race was created (back in 2015), the orange girls have won it five times, while Italy, Great Britain, Belgium and the United States are still tied at just one victory.

This comes as no real surprise, as the Netherlands has been by far the leading nation for women’s cycling in the last decade, having won on all the most prestigious international stages, but it is undeniable that the Dutch have a special feeling with the Strade Bianche. The five victories, moreover, came with four different athletes, confirming an overall strength that goes well beyond individual talents, representing an entire movement that has been at the top of the world ranking for years.

And to think that in the first three editions (won by Megan Guarnier, Lizzie Deignan and Elisa Longo Borghini) no Dutchwoman had even managed to get on the podium. Things began to change in 2018, when Anna Van der Breggen won the wettest and muddiest edition in the history of this race with a solo performance that was the prelude to an extraordinary season for her, with victories also at the Tour of Flanders, Fleche Wallonne, Liège-Bastogne-Liège and the Innsbruck World Championships.

2019 was the turn of Annemiek Van Vleuten, on the first of her two victories in Piazza del Campo. The experienced athlete of the then Mitchelton-Scott attacked on the gravel section of Le Tolfe, about 12 km from the finish, breaking away from all her rivals and heading solo towards Siena. Same outcome the following year, in the historic summer edition of the Strade Bianche, which had been postponed due to the Covid pandemic. Van Vleuten, in the rainbow jersey of world champion, launched herself into a crazy comeback against Mavi Garcia, who was caught in the finale and then dropped on the wall of Via Santa Caterina.

2021 was the most tactical edition of all, with a dozen riders still all together after the gravel sections and SD Worx taking advantage of their numerical superiority. In the end it was Longo Borghini and Chantal Van den Broek-Blaak who managed to gain a small margin at the gates of Siena, with the latter eventually pulling away from the Italian on the way up towards Piazza del Campo. In 2022, the Orange supremacy was momentarily interrupted by the victory of Belgian Lotte Kopecky, after a good head-to-head with Van Vleuten, who was denied the hat-trick just a few metres from Piazza del Campo.

It is the cruelty and magic of cycling: a gruelling race from the first to the last kilometre can be won or lost in the final kilometres. Sometimes, as last year, even in the last few centimetres. Kopecky was once again a key protagonist, but this time she was outsprinted by her own teammate Demi Vollering in a photo-finish in a finale. An incredible and unprecedented finale, as this Classic had never been decided so narrowly.

Four Dutch victories in the last five years. Pure domination! And we are confident that the orange girls will turn up at the starting line still very hungry. Will anyone manage to stop them?

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