This photograph was taken 49 km before the finish, on Monte Sante Marie, the eighth dirt track.
It portrays Alaphilippe in the lead, with van Aert just behind him, followed by Simmons and van der Poel. Pogacar peeps out from under van Aert’s arm. Bernal, Pidcock and Gogl are barely visible at the back of the peloton. The ‘magnificent eight’ of the Strade Bianche.
A little further behind, Fuglsang, van Avermaet and others are now hopelessly adrift.
Let us get back to the ‘magnificent eight’ and go over their names again. We have classic hunters, grand tour winners, road and cyclo cross World Champions, all together, all jostling for victory. Maybe that’s why, as many argue, this is the most beautiful race in the world.
What is, in your opinion, the secret that makes Strade Bianche so fascinating?