Paris-Roubaix has its cobblestones, Strade Bianche has its sterrati. Also in Strade Bianche 2021, the heroic white ground roads flanked by olive trees and cypresses will be the setting of the already legendary race in Tuscany: the Strade Bianche. Strade Bianche 2021 is “only” up to edition 15, it is already an epic WorldTour race.
More than 60 kilometers of sterrati, countless hills along the way and a masterful and famous grande finale with arrival at the breathtaking Piazza del Campo in medieval Siena. Only great men conquer in La Classica del Nord più a sud d’Europa. Who will be crowned vincitore della Strade Bianche 2021?
When is Strade Bianche 2021?
Strade Bianche 2021 will be held on Saturday, March 6, 2021. Where last year by the Strade Bianche on August 1, 2020 was again the first UCI WorldTour race after a coronabreak of 5 months, in 2021 the classic will be back at its regular place on the calendar: the first Saturday of the month of March. So one week after The Opening Weekend (with the Omloop het Nieuwsblad 2021 and Kuurne Brussel Kuurne 2021) and two weeks before La Primavera.
Preview Strade Bianche 2021
A few days before the Strade Bianche 2021 we present you here an extensive preview of the cycling race on the “white roads”. With an analysis of the race route, an overview of the key moments and slopes and of course an overview of the favorites of the Strade Bianche 2021. Also, Voorjaarsklassiekers.be will again provide a star distribution, where the three top favorites will be tipped. As in 2020, we will also once again highlight a joker. The joker will be a dark horse rather than top favorite, but in our eyes a golden tip for your Scorito pool or spring classics pronostic with your group of friends or neighbourhood pub.
The characteristic gravel roads on which the riders thunder, the picturesque villages through which they cycle, the rolling hills flanked by olive trees and cypresses. Benvenuti in Toscana! Riding in Strade Bianche will be a true experience for every rider. However, in the middle of Siena, in the splendor of art and history, it will be hard work for the average spring specialist. Twists and turns, heavy hills and more than 60 kilometers of sterrati. Just think about it. Fabian Cancellara, Philippe Gilbert, Zdeněk Štybar, Julian Alaphilippe, Wout van Aert. Not the least names. No, we wrote it already: you don’t win Strade Bianche just like that. Who can crown himself Campione di Campo?
Strade Bianche 2021 race route
Strade Bianche is a course that captures the imagination. The 15th edition of The Sixth Monument is only 184 kilometers long but is served on a twisty and undulating course. With no long climbs but with punchy inclines, especially on the 11 iconic, unpaved gravel strips or “Settore Sterrato”.
The start of the race is Saturday, March 6, 2021 at 11:40 a.m. on the Piazzale delle Liberta in Siena to finish around 4:30 p.m. on the Piazza del Campo in Siena. A total of 184 kilometers, including 63 km on unpaved gravel roads in 11 iconic sectors and 3,000 altimeters are on the menu.
Unpaved roads of Strade Bianche 2021
Settore Sterrato 1: Vidritta (2.1 kilometers long) – after 17.6 km
Settore Sterrato 2: Bagnaia (5.8 kilometers long) – after 25 km
Settore Sterrato 3: Radi (4.4 kilometers long) – after 36.9 km
Settore Sterrato 4: La Piana (5.5 kilometers long) – after 47.6 km
Settore Sterrato 5: Lucignano d’Asso (11.9 kilometers long) – after 75.8 km
Settore Sterrato 6: Pieve a Santi (8 kilometers long) – after 88.7 km
Settore Sterrato 7: San Martino in Grania (9.5 kilometers) – after 111.7 km
Settore Sterrato 8: Monte Sante Marie (11.5 kilometers long) – after 130 km
Settore Sterrato 9: Monteaperti (0.8 kilometers long) – after 160 km
Settore Sterrato 10: Colle Pinzuto (2.4 kilometers long) – after 164.6 km
Settore Sterrato 11: Le Tolfe (1,1 kilometers long) – after 171 km
Total: 63 kilometers
Strade Bianche last year
Distanze, per favore! Strade Bianche 2020 was the first race after a five-month break. Five months of no course. It was as if we had to wait years for another race. But with the Sixth Monument, which Strade Bianche really has become in our eyes, being the first race since the 2020 season restart, it was an instant feast. It was scorching hot. It was dusty. Only 2 euros and 10 cents were given back on each euro you invested with the bookmakers on Mathieu van der Poel. But it was his rival in the field, Wout van Aert, who laid everyone on the line. He attacked at a strategic moment, on the rising gravel strip La Tolfe he rode away to then also stay away and arrive solo at the Piazza del Campo. Italian Davide Formolo and German Maximilian Schachmann finished second and third. Molto bene, Wout!
Results Strade Bianche 2020
1. Wout van Aert Team Jumbo-Visma 4:58:56
2. Davide Formolo UAE-Team Emirates 0:30
3. Maximilian Schachmann BORA – hansgrohe 0:32
4. Alberto Bettiol EF Pro Cycling 1:31
5. Jakob Fuglsang Astana Pro Team 2:55
6. Zdeněk Štybar Deceuninck – Quick Step 3:59
7. Brent Bookwalter Mitchelton-Scott 4:25
8. Greg Van Avermaet CCC Team 4:27
9. Michael Gogl NTT Pro Cycling 6:47
10. Diego Rosa Team Arkéa Samsic 7:45
Last ten winners Strade Bianche
2020: Wout van Aert
2019: Julian Alaphilippe
2018: Tiesj Benoot
2017: Michał Kwiatkowski
2016: Fabian Cancellara
2015: Zdeněk Štybar
2014: Michał Kwiatkowski
2013: Moreno Moser
2012: Fabian Cancellara
2011: Philippe Gilbert
Favourites Strade Bianche 2021
What did we learn this Opening Weekend? That an attack by world champion Julian Alaphilippe is an extremely tactical move. If they don’t get him, he wins. If they do, then fast man Davide Ballerini is played. It’s all right with the tactical ingenuity at the Wolfpack, especially because of the many trump cards they have in hand. What else do we learn? That Mathieu van der Poel is in the mood and that Wout van Aert drove all Strava records out of the books on El Teide in Tenerife. And then we have a fourth crosser who stuck his nose in the window. Tom Pidcock is ready for the Strade Bianche 2021. Who are the favourites?
***** Mathieu van der Poel
For extra race stimulation and race hardness, he added Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne and Le Samyn to his program, to get optimally ready for the Strade Bianche. And that he immediately showed his mettle, we can say. And how. On Sunday Mathieu van der Poel thought it was enough. The race wasn’t hard enough for him and in terms of training technique, he decided to throw a spanner in the works. It didn’t result in a victory, but thanks to Matje many a cycling fan was on the edge of his seat early last Sunday. Afterwards he thought his debut was “rather fun”. Two days later in Le Samyn, he also made the race. In the end, a broken handlebar didn’t result in the desired result, but he saw his teammate Tim Merlier win so the effort wasn’t for nothing. The world champion of cyclo-cross and road-racing in one is our favourite for Saturday.
**** Julian Alaphilippe
Whereas Van der Poel colored the race on Sunday, Julian Alaphilippe was the big tastemaker in Saturday’s Omloop. The Frenchman unleashed his devils on the Berendries and with his fierce effort he rode away from Greg van Avermaet, Sep Vanmarcke and Tom Pidcock and seemed to ride solo to Ninove. The fact that he later fell through the ice and even started peddling at the front was unworthy of many world champions. However, as in the case of Van der Poel, it was a matter of gaining race experience. To be there when it really matters. And if it’s up to Juju, that will be the case on Saturday in Tuscany. He wants to revenge himself for the debacle of the previous edition. Not the extreme heat or his legs. No, equipment failure prevented him from winning the title. The world champion later said “out of respect for this race” he continued to the finish and will be the spearhead of Deceuninck-Quick Step on Saturday.
*** Wout van Aert
We give Wout van Aert three out of five stars, but we might as well have given Julian Alaphilippe, Mathieu van der Poel and Wout van Aert all three 5 stars and not awarded the 4 and 3 stars. It is, and probably more often this spring, The Big Three who are the biggest favorites here next Saturday in the 15th edition of the Strade Bianche. And you can bet that Wout van Aert will be on his toes again. The Belgian prepared himself for the classics at a training camp on Tenerife in the past three weeks, where he rode one KOM (King of the Mountain, or best time on a segment or climb) to the next. His team boss Merijn Zeeman tempered the expectations a bit, saying Van Aert will use the Strade Bianche to really be there two weeks later in San Remo and the Flemish classics. But well, numbers don’t lie. And take the weather and the previous performance of Van Aert in Tuscany and count your profit.
** Tom Pidcock
Behind The Big Three, we see in Tom Pidcock the fourth favorite. And what do Van der Poel, Alaphilippe and Van Aert have in common? They come from the cross country! Been living under a rock or missed “one of the revelations of the Opening Weekend”? With 21 years very young, but oh so talented. Multi-talented that too. Because both in the field, on the road and on the MTB, the Brit stands his ground. He broke through as a junior in 2016 at the European Cyclocross Championships where he won. He later did the same at the World Championships. To as a pledge in year 2017-2018 also continue where he ended in 2016: winning. On the road, it went the same way. He won the junior version of Paris-Roubaix in 2017 and in 2019 he did the same in the Paris Roubaix under 23. Since 2021 has been riding for INEOS-Grenadiers and in the Opening Weekend Pidcock immediately gave home. He was in the lead in the Omloop and even rode to a third – and thus – podium place in Kuurne. What can the Brit do in Tuscany on Saturday?
* Jakob Fuglsang
Yet another person in our favorites row who in his youth excelled in a different cycling discipline. Jakob Fuglsang earned numerous places of honor in the youth categories in both the Danish and European championships … mountain biking. The Dane, who is actually more of a rounder than a classics specialist, may be able to put his mountain biking skills to good use in Saturday’s Strade Bianche. When the white roads in Tuscany have changed from bone-dry, dusty to a heavy mud puddle, a rider like Jakob Fuglsang thrives on that. With Alex Aranburu and Fabio Felline, the Astana Premier Tech rider has two shadow favorites on his team, but will also want to go for a good result himself.
Dark horse: Romain Bardet
Then the dark horse. Perhaps some clarification is needed. Because although we also spoke of a joker – with the dark horse we mean a golden surprise. Not someone who is high on the bookmakers. Who just behind Van der Poel, Alaphilippe, Van Aert, Pidcock and Fuglsang is a big favorite. So no Bauke Mollema. Or Tadej Pogačar. No, the dark horse is someone you won’t find in the top ten at the bookies, but someone who in our eyes can definitely ride high. Didn’t we already predict that correctly with Heinrich Haussler in the Omloop? Anyway. The dark horse of Strade Bianche is Romain Bardet.
What is a Frenchman who has already finished second (in 2016) and third (in 2017) in the final classification of the Tour de France doing in a line of favorites of a spring classic, we hear you think? Rightful question. Were it not for the fact that Romain Bardet has undergone a true transformation. And no, it’s not that Bardet will only ride cobbled races from 2021 onwards. It certainly isn’t. Although he made a very strong debut last Saturday in the Omloop, he will be Team DSM’s front man next Saturday in the Strade Bianche. Where former winner Tiesj Benoot will ride Paris-Nice, Bardet is the man to do it for DSM. In the 2018 edition, which was won by Benoot in extremely tough conditions, he already finished second in the Strade Bianche and with cyclo-cross rider Joris Nieuwenhuis and former mountain biker Chris Hamilton at his side, this could just be your golden tip for your prognostications!
Favourites and star distribution Strade Bianche 2021
***** Mathieu van der Poel
**** Julian Alaphilippe
*** Wout van Aert
** Tom Pidcock
* Jakob Fugslang
Dark horse: Romain Bardet