Bettiol fourth at Strade Bianche

Strade Bianche gave the fans the drama they’ve waited for.

“Today, the team did a really amazing job. We were focused from kilometer zero. Everybody did what they were supposed to do and we raced as a team.”

– Alberto Bettiol

 

 

As the World Tour restarted again today after its 2020 hiatus, the scorching Tuscan hills left the peloton in pieces as it battled its way to Siena’s Piazza del Campo. By the time the riders took to the start line, the mercury was already touching close to 40°C with a menu of leg breaking climbs and dust for the day.

 

Right from the start, the team helped control the race with Sean Bennett, Magnus Cort, Mike Woods and Mitch Docker playing an active part in helping control and set up for the final. At 78 km to go, Lawson Craddock (EF Pro Cycling), Bob Jungels (Deceuninck-QuickStep) and Marcus Burghardt (Bora-Hansgrohe) made a move attacking off the front that was soon caught by the bunch. When the race hit sector eight, Monte Santa Marie loomed with a painfully sharp gradient and Simon Clarke (EF Pro Cycling) attacked, quickly leaving chasers behind. 

 

On the descent, it was Alberto Bettiol’s turn to make sure he was up at the front, putting himself in contention to take the win. As a small bunch formed, it was clear that this group containing Alberto Bettiol (EF Pro Cycling), Davide Formolo (UAE Team Emirates), Jakob Fuglsang (Astana), Wout Van Aert (Jumbo-Visma), Greg Van Avermaet (CCC Team), Max Schachmann (Bora-Hansgrohe) had the strength to stay away until the finish. A strong attack from Bettiol at 20 km to go unfortunately didn’t last, and it was Van Aert’s with less than 10 km to go who reduced the group down even further. Bettiol eventually lost contact with Formolo and Schachmann on the final climbs into Siena. 

 

As predicted, this race was a beautiful mix of chaos and few riders actually made it to the finish, providing fans with the racing drama we’ve all missed over the last five months. As far as curtain raisers go, this Tuscan season restart act will be a tough one to follow.   

Here’s what the team had to say

 

 

Fabrizio Guidi, Sport Director 

 

The 4th place… 

 

“It’s not all about the top four result, it’s about the race and the team. We were more and less perfect as a team. In the final we were missing just a little something with Alberto. But the first race is never easy and I’m really happy about Alberto’s form. He tried to win and took some risks and he paid for it in the final, but if you never try, you never win. 

 

The tactics…

 

“We controlled the first part with Mitch, and Sean. And then in the middle of the race we made some moves with Lawson, Simon and Alberto. The goal for this race is never to try to anticipate and be behind. It’s about being in front and doing the work and the team executed exactly how we wanted them to. Alberto was in front during the hardest parts of the race and he probably thought that he was stronger than expected and he might have made his move a little early, but I am really happy with his performance. You never know in the final stages of a race what could happen. We can always discuss tactics and how to deal with the legs in the closing stages of the race, but it’s never easy to hit the target immediately. Personally, I am really happy with the performance of the team.” 

 

The chaos… 

 

“It was really chaotic. There were many crashes, there were many flat tires, and we were really lucky to have really great equipment. Our sponsors really pulled through and we only experienced a few mechanical issues out on the road. We were probably the best team out there today in terms of dealing with equipment. No crashes and few flat tires even though it was a very nervous and hard race, as expected. We dealt with everything in a good way and the riders remained calm from the start. They executed perfectly and at the end of the day there’s only one winner and we just weren’t that team today. Onto the next one!”

Mike Woods, rider

 

The first timer… 

 

Today went pretty well for me. My legs felt really good but obviously it was a bit nervous initially in the peloton. This race was just crazy from the get go. The fight for position, the crashes, the dust, the visibility, all of it. I had a flat tire at one point and ended up in the cars and couldn’t see anything. So for me, just getting over, getting through that and finishing was a big accomplishment considering I broke my femur five months ago. I think this will probably be the scariest race all season for me and to get through it with no problems and to feel confident in my bike handling skills gives me confidence for the races to come. 

Alberto Bettiol, rider 

 

The fourth place finisher… 

 

“Today, the team did a really amazing job. We were focused from kilometer zero. Everybody did what they were supposed to do and we raced as a team. Simon, Magnus and Woods didn’t have the best days out there, but they were still helping me by keeping me covered and anticipating moves that were coming. We all did our best which is the most important. For me, I tried to play my card in the final and tried to anticipate the moves and attack. It was really special for me because I was in front of my fans and racing in my region so I had a lot of people supporting me. At the end I got dropped by climbers on a climb so I have no regrets and I did my best. In the end this fourth place finish is great to restart the race season with.” 

 

“After Sante Marie there were only six of us in front and we didn’t talk but it was clear that we had to work together to grow the gap because there were some chasers behind. In the final, Greg Van Avermaet got dropped and then Fuglsang got dropped. I tried to catch Van Aert but he was really strong and was the strongest out there. This race is won by the strongest rider, and he was the strongest out there today. Schachmann and Formolo dropped me and maybe I paid for my previous efforts but for me I have no regrets because I tried to win this race. Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose. We all did a really great job today.” 

 

Finally…should the race stick to August next year?

 

“After today’s result, I think it’s better it stays on the 1st August.”