Maxim Iglinskiy (Astana) won a three-up sprint into the historic Piazza del Campo in Sienna to take Saturday’s Montepaschi Strade Bianche race across the gravel roads of Tuscany.
The 28-year-old Kazakh outsmarted last year’s winner Thomas Lovkvist (Team Sky) and Michael Rogers (HTC-Columbia), recent winner of the Ruta del Sol, to claim victory in the fourth edition of what’s quickly becoming a fan favorite.
Ryder Hesjedal (Garmin-Transitions) joined the decisive breakaway late in the race and ended up with his third consecutive top-10 with fifth. Filippo Pozzato (Katusha) came through fourth.
“This is the first time I’ve raced on the ‘white roads’ and I knew you had to be at the front of the race, especially in the finale,” Iglinskiy told reporters after the race. “When Lovkvist, Rogers and Hesjedal went, I was the last rider to join them.”
Fine spring weather welcomed some 110 riders from 15 riders lined up for the ever-popular “Strade Bianche,” held over white, gravel roads across the heart of Italy’s Tuscany.
This year’s 190km route featured eight sectors of the loose gravel roads, the longest of which is 13.5km, for a total of 57.2km. In terms of scenery and history, the race is hard to beat. The course started in Gaiole in Chianti and ended in Siena’s famous Piazza del Campo.
Things were hot from the beginning, with three riders attacking early, with Bernard Eisel (HTC-Columbia), Pavel Brutt (Katusha) and Diego Caccia (ISD-Neri) forcing the action. More trailed out, prompting Saxo Bank and Team Sky to open up the chase.
Rogers was part of a decisive counterattack also featuring Stefano Garzelli (Acqua e Sapone), Vicenzo Nibali (Liquigas), Simon Spilak (Lampre) and Francesco Ginanni (Androni).
The winning move came late in the race, with Rogers, Lovkvist and Hesjedal taking control of the race. Iglinskiy saw it taking shape, grabbed the wheel and ended with the most important win of his career.
“I knew it would be decisive to be at the front (in the finale), so I was there on the climb,” said Lovkvist, who won last year. “Igliskiy cut me a little, but races are like that.”
Up next in Italy is Tirreno-Adriatico (March 10-16).