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The great Strade Bianche weekend

30/01/2024

The great Strade Bianche weekend, which will open the season of the Italian UCI World Tour and UCI Women’s World Tour races organised by RCS Sport on 2 March, is approaching with some important changes. “Europe’s most southern northern classic” will be renewed by increasing the mileage and sectors of gravel roads both in the women’s version (137 km with 12 sectors, totalling 40 km of Strade Bianche) and in the men’s version (215 km with 15 sectors, totalling 71 km of Strade Bianche) thanks to the addition of a final circuit to be repeated twice that will allow the fans to see more of both races. On

Sunday, 3 March, the amateur cyclists will take to the streets, challenging themselves on the Crete Senesi raced by the Pros the day before. One of the most eagerly awaited events of the year for the category, the Gran Fondo Strade Bianche Enel already has more than 7,000 registered participants.

Quotes

Paolo Bellino, CEO and Managing Director at RCS Sport: “We confirmed the programme of a weekend that has become a traditional event despite the recent history. This is a winning format, as demonstrated by the ever-growing numbers generated. Every year, Siena and its territories are flooded with fans from all over the world, who are fascinated by the images of these places that are widely broadcasted. Saturday’s races see the big stars of women’s and men’s cycling at the start, with startlists that are just as good as the ones of Monument Classics. Two-wheel aces are increasingly targeting this race as one of their seasonal goals, and we can only be happy about this. On Sunday, more than 7,000 amateurs will take part in a competition that has already become an unmissable event for the category”.

Mauro Vegni, Cycling Area Director at RCS Sport: “This year we wanted to make some changes to the route, and so we created this double circuit, which will increase the difficulty and mileage of both races, as well as give the fans at the roadside the chance to enjoy the show multiple times. As a result of this decision, for the first time the men’s race will be longer than 200 km. We will see how the race will develop. Every year, this event gives us strong emotions and great cycling moments such as in 2023 the photo-finish victory of the women’s race by Demi Vollering, or the winning attack by Thomas Pidcock in the men’s race”.

Nicoletta Fabio, Mayor of Siena: “Siena at the centre of the sporting world: Strade Bianche will once again offer spectacle, entertainment, sport of the highest level, a combination of emotions that also includes culture and attractiveness for our territory and our city. A unique race for the route and the finish in Piazza del Campo, which manages to express all the passion that those who love two wheels can savour. Strade Bianche is by now an unmissable event, not only for professionals, but also for all cycling fans, amateurs, and enthusiasts with the Sunday Gran Fondo. Siena will be the capital of sports tourism, in that combination of sport and promotion that finds its perfect sublimation in this territory, perfect for rediscovering artistic and natural beauty”.

Lorenzo Lorè, Councillor for sports of the Municipality of Siena: “It is with great emotion that we greet the return of the two-day Strade Bianche in Siena, this year also linked to a whole series of events that will accompany us to the March weekend. Many novelties, curated by RCS Sport, that will involve the city more and more and transport us to the men’s and women’s professional race and then to the amateurs’ race. I would also like to emphasise the record-breaking numbers of the Gran Fondo, this year reaching seven thousand participants: a great success, as well as a great organisational effort, for which I would certainly like to thank RCS, but also the municipal machine and all the offices that are already working to ensure that everything goes well and that it is the second great day of sport for the entire territory”.

Moreno Moser, 2013 Strade Bianche winner: “I am particularly happy and excited to be back here where I achieved the most beautiful victory of my career. These are beautiful places, both in terms of landscape and art. Over the years the way of interpreting the race has changed a lot, there is selection from further away. With this new circuit there can be even more selection”.

Marta Bastianelli, 2007 World Champion: “The Strade Bianche is a world-class classic, both in terms of participants and spectators. I particularly appreciate the novelty of the double passage on the gravel roads, which also involves women, unlike in races like the Tour of Flanders. Whoever wins a selective race like this will be a protagonist throughout the season”.

Daniele Bennati, Head Coach of the Italian National Team: “I’m happy with this new route, which has even higher mileage and more opportunities for selection. It will be an important test bench for the Italian athletes in view of the many international appointments of the season and I hope they will be able to be protagonists”.

Alessandro Fabbrini, President of Sei Toscana: “We are proud to be the green partner of this prestigious event that gives international visibility to Siena and its unique and precious territory. Being able to measure the impact of the event in terms of waste management and separate waste collection, and consequently finding and applying emission offsetting systems, is the best way to ensure that this project becomes increasingly virtuous and concretely sustainable. Once again, we will provide all the necessary support, from collection services to the many environmental awareness and education activities aimed at adults and children”.

The Route of Strade Bianche

The course is twisty and undulating, with no extended climbs but with quite a few punchy bits, especially on the unpaved sections of the route. There are roughly 71 km of gravel roads, across 15 sectors, twelve of which are shared with the Women Elite course. The race starts near the Stadium/Fortezza Medicea in Siena. The first undulating kilometers on tarmac lead to the 2.1 km-long gravel sector 1 at km 18, which is perfectly straight and slightly downhill. Sector 2 (5.8 km) 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 (4.4 km 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” – one of the race’s classic gravel sectors (5.5 km in length, and featured in the course ever since the first edition) with no significant gradient, leading to Buonconvento. The Montalcino climb, the second ascent of the day (4 km at 5%), is just a few kilometers away. Sectors 5 (11.9 km) and 6 (8 km) begin just past Torrenieri, with only 1 km of tarmac in between. Both are hard, hilly and very punchy, with many challenging bends, climbs and descents. After the second pass 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 (9.5 km) 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 11.5 km, 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 (300 m) followed by the ninth dirt road sector, after Monteaperti. At only 800 m in length, it greets the riders with double-digit gradients. The route goes back on tarmac in Vico d’Arbia where the 30 km circuit begins. Past Pieve a Bozzone, sector 10 (2.4 km) comes next, on the climb toward Colle Pinzuto, with gradients peaking as high as 15%. After a few kilometers, the route features the eleventh sector, Le Tolfe, (1.1 km), marked by a fast-running descent followed by a very punchy climb (with a maximum gradient of 18%). Shortly after Le Tolfe, upon the first passage, the route takes a first-ever ride on the Strada del Castagno (12th sector, 1.3 km), which leads to some challenging passes on tarmac all the way to Pontignano, Ponte a Bozzone and San Giovanni a Cerreto, where we enter the 13th sector (Montechiaro 3.3 km), which was covered in the first editions of the race. The circuit ends at the end of this sector, in Vico d’Arbia. The sectors of Colle Pinzuto (14th) and Le Tolfe (15th) will be repeated before the route turns towards Siena with a little over 10 km left to the finish.

Final kilometers

The demanding final kilometers approach the city of Siena along wide and straight roads, connected by sweeping curves, initially downhill, and further on slightly uphill. With 2 km to go to the finish, 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 500 m 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 300 m to the finish onwards, the road is a slight, continuous ascent. With 150 m to go, a right turn leads into Via Rinaldini. The route enters the Piazza del Campo just 70 m from the finish line. The final 30 m descend at a gradient of 7% to the finish line, which is on level road.

Further details about the route of Strade Bianche here

The Route of Strade Bianche Women Elite

The course is twisty and undulating, with no extended climbs but with quite a few punchy bits, especially on the unpaved parts. There are more than 40 km of gravel roads across twelve sectors (all shared with the Men’s course). The race starts near the Stadium/Fortezza Medicea in Siena. The first undulating kilometers on tarmac lead to the 2.1 km-long gravel sector 1 at km 18, which is perfectly straight and slightly downhill. Sector 2 (5.8 km) is just a few kilometres 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 (4.4 km), shortly followed by sector 4 – named “La Piana” – that will lead the riders to Ponte d’Arbia. Shortly after, the route reaches Monteroni d’Arbia, which marks the beginning of sector 5 of San Martino in Grania (9.5 km) 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. The sixth dirt road sector, Montaperti, is only 800 m in length, but it greets the riders with double-digit gradients. The route goes back on tarmac in Vico d’Arbia where the 30 km circuit will begin.

Final kilometers

The final kilometers are the same as the men’s course.

Further details about the route of Strade Bianche Women Elite here.

The Route of the Gran Fondo Strade Bianche

The race largely shares the route with the Women Elite event, with no extended climbs but with quite a few punchy bits, especially on the unpaved parts. It is very twisty and undulating in terms of both course and profile. There are approximately 42 km of gravel roads (30.2% of the route) appearing in 9 sectors (some of which are ‘new’ to both the men’s and women’s races) featuring a well-maintained roadbed, and on well-packed ground. The 5th sector, which is 9.3 km long to Monteroni d’Arbia, is the only one not in common with the pro and women’s races. The finish follows the route taken by the pros the previous day.

Further details about the Gran Fondo Strade Bianche here.

Ride Green Strade Bianche

For this 2024 edition of the Strade Bianche Crédit Agricole, RCS Sport and Sei Toscana are confirming the Ride Green Strade Bianche project (for both the Pro race and the Gran Fondo), based on separate waste collection, which aims at making the race increasingly sustainable, environmentally and territorially aware, in line with the objectives of 2030 Agenda. This initiative is linked to the Giro d’Italia project called Ride Green, which starts in May. Being able to measure the impact of the event in environmental terms and, consequently, devising and implementing compensation systems for the CO2 emissions produced, is one of the best ways to make this green project virtuous and effectively sustainable.

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