Strade Bianche has earned a reputation on our team and among the WorldTour peloton. It’s a beautiful yet demanding course and is one of the few races a year that features gravel roads. Last year’s edition was made even more strenuous thanks to the Italian August heat, and while the race has returned back to its traditional date, the weather will still be a significant factor at the event. The peloton will likely face a wintery mix this Saturday en route to Siena. From the scorching Tuscan sun in 2020 to a light snow on the Tuscan hillsides in 2021.
The Italian races typically have a cinematic flair to them — and Strade Bianche always delivers. Perhaps that’s also because races in Italy — while epic — are few and far between. That’s why our Italian pro Alberto Bettiol, who finished 4th at last year’s Strade, cherishes them so deeply. “I always want to get there prepared to do a good race and do the best I can. I don’t race a lot in Italy, so doing well at home is really important,” said Bettiol.
Bettiol will be joined by two riders from last year’s roster: Mitchell Docker and Lawson Craddock. These three will be at it again and joined by vets like Alex Howes, Julius van den Berg, and Sebastian Langeveld. These seasoned pros can surely provide plenty of guidance to the last man who makes up our impressive lineup: Simon Carr.
The 22-year-old is new to the WorldTour stage and has already proven himself to be a great talent on the team, especially to road captain Docker who was impressed by his skills at the Tour de Alpes. “You forget how young Carr is being it’s his first year as a WorldTour pro. He’s already really stepped up to the plate,” said Docker. This will be Docker’s third race of the year and his second time on the famous white roads. His words for the first time he took to the historic gravel? “Pretty bloody tough, but good fun.”
And what is it that makes Strade Bianche so famously difficult besides 63 kilometers of white gravel? It’s unique route requires a lot of grit and bike handling skills on its tricky gravel ascents and descents. “The race itself isn’t very long but it’s really difficult. The peloton is racing full on from really early in the race. I would say, from the Montalcino climb on we are racing full on and then it’s during the Sante Marie climb that the first selections are made,” said Bettiol.
The ride is filled with plenty of short, steep hills and dirt roads throughout the 184 kilometers. The team will ride for approximately five hours in the saddle as they make their way to the finish in Piazza del Campo, the historic center of Siena. It’s one of Europe’s greatest medieval squares and widely known as one of the most beautiful squares in all of Italy. Given what they’ll have to endure to get there, it’s only fair for that to be the final stop on the journey.
“Strade Bianche counts as an alternative race, right?” asked Alex Howes.
Not quite, Howes. But pretty close.
Our roster for Strade Bianche:
- Mitchell Docker
- Simon Carr
- Alberto Bettiol
- Sebastian Langeveld
- Alex Howes
- Lawson Craddock
- Julius Van Den Berg