The first weekend of March schedules the 16th edition of Strade Bianche, whose white roads caked in dust and dirt have made for some vintage racing in the years that have passed since the race was created. Our team triumphed in Siena’s stunning Piazza del Campo on three occasions, most recently in 2019, when Julian Alaphilippe took the spoils after a great ride.
Strade Bianche: Asgreen third after phenomenal effort
Kasper Asgreen racked up his fourth podium in a World Tour one-day race with a strong ride at Strade Bianche, a race which was turned on its head 100 kilometers from home, when the wind changed the usual scenario. Julian Alaphilippe was the only former winner at the start of the 17th edition, but his plans of going for a double were hampered when a strong gust wreaked havoc in the bunch. Dozens of riders went down, including the World Champion, who was well-placed at the front of the peloton, in the wheel of Dries Devenyns.
After picking himself off the ground, Alaphilippe got a new bike and began what looked to be mission impossible – bridging across the group of favourites, two minutes clear at that moment. Fortunately for him, the Frenchman had Mikkel Honoré and Mauro Schmid for company, who buried themselves for the rainbow jersey and brought him back to the group after an insane and truly extraordinary 20km chase.
Following this regrouping, things calmed down until Monte Sante Marie, the longest and toughest sector of the race, featuring steep gradients and tricky descents. It was there that Julian made his move, thinning out the peloton and taking with him only a handful of riders. But the effort he had put in chasing the peloton took its toll with 50 kilometers remaining, when he drifted towards the back as the slopes began to bite.
Despite this, Alaphilippe remained prominent and took over the reins at the front of the elite group, keeping it together for Kasper Asgreen. One of the few riders in history to have won E3 Harelbeke and Ronde van Vlaanderen in the same season, the 26-year-old Dane impressively made it over the toughest parts of the 184km race before ferociously accelerating and splitting the field. Only four men stayed with him, but soon Kasper made another move, this time on Colle Pinzuto, and rode everyone else off his wheel.
Joined by Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) in the chase of sole leader Tadej Pogacar (UAE Team Emirates), Asgreen continued to give everything and believe in his chances, churning through the white roads despite trailing by 50 seconds. Even though he was dropped on the gruelling Via Santa Caterina, he still had enough to take a deserved third in Piazza del Campo – Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl’s seventh podium at Strade Bianche in nine years.
“Our plans changed after Julian’s crash, which came at a bad moment. He came back, but to do that used a lot of energy which he didn’t have in the final part of the race. Even in these conditions, he worked hard and kept the pressure on, which later played into my favour. The way we worked as a team today was truly impressive, all the guys were great and did a fantastic job, and for that they deserve credit.”
“When I got over the first steep ramps of Sante Marie I began thinking I could get something out of the race. I jumped from the chasing group at what I felt was the right moment, and kept going. It was hard, but I believed in myself and had a lot of motivation to show that I can perform at my third participation here. I am happy I could crack the podium and with how my shape is evolving. Now I’m looking forward to Tirreno-Adriatico and the Classics season.”
Photo credit: ©Tim De Waele / Getty Images