The Strade Bianche is, according to riders and fans alike, nothing short of a perfect race. Just check out the forums, social media or interviews! We dare you to find someone who doesn’t like this competition. The gravel roads that snake across the countryside, the stunning city of Siena, the breathtaking charm of Tuscany, and the champions who have animated it in recent years have managed to turn a rather young race (inaugural edition dating back to 2007) into one of the most sought-after Classics on the entire WorldTour calendar.
Yet, at some point, it is only fair to ask: “Have we reached the top? Or can we go even higher?“. In other words: is there still room for improvement? 2024 will try to answer that question by introducing some solid changes in the route. All the iconic features of this amazing race will obviously be retained – including the legendary gravel sections and the Piazza del Campo arrival via the Santa Caterina wall – but this edition will offer riders and spectators a whole new approach to this unique Classic. After all, one must always keep up, innovate and evolve, and that is exactly what the Strade Bianche is doing.
Two main changes are going to be introduced in the men’s race: the overall length of the route, which increases from 184 km to 215, and the number of gravel sections, which increase from 11 to 15, thus making the race tougher and probably more selective. The first 175 km will remain unchanged, but if until last year Le Tolfe was the last unpaved stretch of the race before heading for Siena, this year will instead feature a 30 km circuit loop, with the first-ever ride on the Strada del Castagno sector (12th sector, 1.3 km long) leading to some challenging passes on paved roads in Pontignano, Ponte a Bozzone and San Giovanni a Cerreto. At that point, the riders will face the 13th dirt section (Montechiaro, 3.3 km long), which was tackled in the very first edition of the race back in 2007. The circuit ends in Vico d’Arbia. The famous sectors of Colle Pinzuto (14th) and Le Tolfe (15th) are then covered a second time, before finally heading back to Siena for the grand finale on the punishing climb of Via Santa Caterina and the arrival in Piazza del Campo.
Recent years have shown how selective the Strade Bianche can be and, thanks to the increased length and difficulty, it is destined to become even more so. These changes could also lead to a different tactical interpretation of the race, always rather unpredictable especially in the last 50-60 km. The fans lined up at Colle Pinzuto and Le Tolfe will have the chance to enjoy the world’s best riders not once but twice. Fun and entertainment assured!