Tom Pidcock's epic victory in Strade Bianche

Road 04/03/23 14:14 Migue A.

The British rider of INEOS Grenadiers managed to finish a 50-kilometer breakaway that, like Pogacar last year, was forged on the ramps of Mount Santa Maria where he showed his excellent technique on the bike. An exciting finish, just like in the women's race, where Demi Vollering and Lotte Kopecki finished an exciting chase for the SD Worx double.

Tom Pidcock conquers the sterrato

If one thing is certain, it is that the Strade Bianche never disappoints. It may not have the kilometers of other great classics, but it makes up for it with genuinely exciting moments and a course that lends itself to distant attacks, even in years like this one where the mild weather makes the broken course through the beautiful scenery of Tuscany a bit tougher.

The start of the race was marked by a breakaway of the day, which took a long time to form and which ended up integrating the Intermarché-Circus-Wanty rider Sven Erik Bystrøm, Alessandro de Marchi and the promising Movistar Team signing Ivan Romeo, who managed to open a 4' lead over the peloton that they would maintain until the now mythical stretch and land of Monte Santa Maria.

The peloton was calm until the arrival at the first of the decisive sections, San Martino in Grania, where the tension to get the best position left Carlos Rodríguez out of the race and he suffered a crash, apparently without consequences, but which ended his chances of repeating last year's great performance.

However, it was not until the next dirt sector, the always decisive Monte Santa Maria, that the first real moves for the race arrived. It was Alberto Bettiol who broke the dynamics of the group, a move that Tim Wellens tried to follow, unsuccessfully, but Andrea Bagioli managed to stick to his wheel and, with a little delay, Tom Pidcock, who also pushed to join them, saw the move.

Passivity in the peloton before this early movement that allowed them to quickly reach an advantage of about twenty seconds while men like Alaphilippe or Mathieu Van der Poel did not show. In fact, it was Pello Bilbao who was at the front of the group trying to reduce the gap.

In one of the short but steep descents that interrupt the ascent to Monte Santa Maria, Pidcock, showing his fantastic technique, managed, almost unintentionally, to open a few seconds with his companions. Without hesitation he decided to go for the adventure and accelerate in pursuit of the escapees, who had already been left in two units after Iván Romeo gave in at the beginning of the section, managing to catch them before crowning, taking advantage again of another couple of descents to cut the gap.

Behind, the pace was lively but without agreement to close the gap. At the top, Mathieu Van der Poel showed himself in a timid movement, with more will than legs and that only served to select the group.

An intense chase began, with a willing Pello Bilbao leaving some strength that he would later miss and Van der Poel having to accept that it was not his day.

In the next sector, Monteaperti, Pidcock was left alone, after De Marchi, the last survivor of the breakaway, gave up. Meanwhile, behind, the arrival of Mohoric put Bahrain-Victorious in a good race situation, as did Jumbo-Visma with Tiesj and Attila Valter in the group.

It would not be until the penultimate stretch, Colle Pinzuto, where the group of the pursuers would be selected, with Attila Valter, Tiejs Tiesj, Rui Costa, Valentin Madouas and Matej Mohoric, whose momentum left in just 20 seconds the advantage of Pidcock, who suffered to infinity not to be defeated.

They reached the very hard ramp of Le Tolfe, which Pidcock climbed knowing that he had to manage every ounce of strength while, behind, his pursuers attacked each other with more fireworks than effectiveness. Attacks that would continue until the very entrance to Siena and that, surely, were the ones that gave Pidcock enough air. In fact, with 4 kilometers to go, after a hard breakaway by Tiesj, he was practically caught, just 5 seconds behind, but they couldn't agree on how to close the gap.

Fortunately for Pidcock, the end of this race is tricky and again his skill on the bike was the key to optimize his already scarce strength and reach the foot of the Via Santa Caterina with more than 20 seconds of advantage, enough to know he was the winner and be able to enjoy the mass bath through the beautiful streets of the old town of Siena.

A few victories for Pidcock in road cycling, just the fourth, but all of them of very high quality, let's remember: Flèche Brabanzona in 2021, Tour stage at Alpe d'Huez last year, the 4th stage of Volta ao Algarve a few weeks ago with finish at the top of Malhao and this Strade Bianche.

The podium was completed by Valentin Madouas and Tiej Tiesj.

Classification Strade Bianche - Men

  1. Thomas Pidcock (INEOS Grenadiers) 4h31'41''
  2. Valentin Madouas (Groupama-FDJ) +20''
  3. Tiesj Benoot (Jumbo-Visma) +22''
  4. Rui Costa (Intermarché-Circus-Wanty) +23''
  5. Attila Valter (Jumbo-Visma) +23''
  6. Matej Mohoric (Bahrain-Victorious) +34''
  7. Pello Bilbao (Bahrain-Victorious) +1'04''
  8. Romain Grégoire (Groupama-FDJ) +1'18''
  9. Davide Formolo (UAE-Team Emirates) +1'23''
  10. Andreas Kron (Lotto-Dstny) +1'35''

Demi Vollering wins the SD Worx battle

Spectacular outcome of the women's race, with the Dutch team SD Worx finishing off an excellent reading of the race in which they moved their pieces at the right time to impose themselves on their rivals.

The race went relatively smoothly. Just a few small attempts at the beginning but that were quickly neutralized by a peloton that with a continuous and crushing pace managed to stay compact but losing units by the mere natural selection that caused the passage of the various stretches of land.

It was not until 46 km to go when the Jumbo-Visma rider Karlijn Swinkels tried to look for adventure and was ahead of the peloton in a transition section that led to the last three and final sectors of sterrato. She would be joined by Jayco-alUla rider Kristen Faulkner, who would impose her great riding skills, releasing the Dutch rider from the wheel and opening a gap that would reach about two minutes while the peloton stayed loose.

It was not until just over 30 kilometers to go when Movistar decided to start shaking the tree, sending ahead Paula Patiño who dragged with her six other riders, achieving just a few seconds of advantage over the large group that, little by little, was accelerating the pace with the approach to the Monteaperti stretch.

A section that would serve to make a first selection based on high pace and at the end of which tried to surprise a rookie, on the road, Puck Pieterse, but was quickly neutralized. It would be in the next dirt section, Colle Pinzuto, where the race would definitely break. Annemiek Van Vleuten was the first to try to open a gap, but without the strength of other occasions. A move to which Pieterse responded and that only served as a launching pad for a hard attack by Demi Vollering, who quickly managed to open a gap thanks to the phenomenal work of her teammate, and top favorite for today Lotte Kopecky.

She quickly began to close the gap with Kristen Faulkner who, despite the two dirt sections, had managed to maintain a remarkable advantage of around one minute and 45 seconds. However, Vollering's progress was abruptly interrupted by the appearance of a runaway horse in the middle of the race that forced her to stop, which gave Faulkner the wings to dream of victory.

Thus came the last stretch of land, Le Tolfe and its very hard ramp of 18% that has decided this test and on several occasions. Arriving at the hardest section, Vollering, unable to cut advantage with the American, was yielding to almost be hunted by the favorites. Lotte Kopecky took advantage of this moment to launch her offensive and reach her wheel. Neither Annemiek Van Vleuten nor Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig, nor Puck Pieterse, whose previous efforts are taking their toll.

Then began an exciting chase of the two Dutch riders against a Kristen Faulkner who would sell very expensive her defeat. In fact, it was not until the very ramps of the Via Santa Caterina, when she would be caught, leaving the victory secured for SD Worx. We would still have emotions in the last 500 m because, as opposed to what is usual in these cases, with riders of the same team entering hand in hand to celebrate a common victory, it became a hard fight for position in each of the curves along the old town of Siena that ended with a very close sprint in which Demi Vollering was imposed on his teammate Kopecky by just a dozen centimeters.

Completing the podium with a bittersweet third place, Kristen Faulkner, who had it really close. Behind, Uttrup Ludwig, Van Vleuten and Pieterse would be passing through the finish line aware of the superiority shown today by SD Worx.

Classification Strade Bianche - Women

  1. Demi Vollering (Team SD Worx) 3h50’35’’
  2. Lotte Kopecky (Team SD Worx) 3h50’35’’
  3. Kristen Faulkner (Team Jayco AlUla) +18’’
  4. Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig (FDJ – Suez) +2’01’’
  5. Annemiek Van Vleuten (Movistar Team)+2’01’’
  6. Puck Pieterse (Fenix-Deceuninck) +2’15’’
  7. Katarzyna Niewiadoma (Canyon//SRAM Raacing) +2’16’’
  8. Liane Lippert (Movistar Team) +2’27’’
  9. Riejanne Markus (Jumbo-Vismaa) +2’36’’
  10. Pfiffer Georgi (Team DSM) +2’39’’



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Épica victoria de Tom Pidcock en Strade Bianche