We have chosen to end our tale of the 2021 Strade Bianche with a shot from the podium in Piazza del Campo. The three riders in this photograph say it all about the quality of this race.
Egan Bernal, the winner of the Giro d’Italia, in third. Julian Alaphilippe, the world champion, in second. And Mathieu van der Poel, the Dutch national road champion (and cyclocross world champion), on the top step.
Until the last gravel section, they were riding in a group that included champs like van Aert, Pidcock and Pogačar, and everyone was looking forward to one of the most thrilling and unpredictable endings in the history of this race, which is inherently thrilling and unpredictable already. Our expectations were not disappointed.
Van der Poel attacked fiercely along the last ramp of Le Tolfe, and Alaphilippe and Bernal were the only ones to follow. It all came down to a final shoot-out on the steep Via Santa Caterina. How did that turn out? If you still don’t know, well, the photo above speaks for itself.
We will remember this picture for a long time, as sum and substance of a memorable race, one of the best of the season, in which the strongest classic hunters and Grand Tour specialists did battle along the roads of Siena. What a feast for the eyes!