Pro peloton returns to Italy’s dirt roads for Strade Bianche
Roubaix has cobblestones, De Ronde has bergs, and Strade Bianche has Tuscany’s white dirt roads.
Organizer RCS sport will host a 136km Women’s WorldTour race and a 184km men’s WorldTour one-day on March 3 and 4, respectively. The men’s route holds 63 kilometers of dirt roads, while the women will face 31.4km of the rough terrain.
Elisa Longo Borghini (Wiggle-High5) won the 2017 edition of the women’s race. Assuming she’ll return to defend her title, the Italian will face a slightly longer route in 2018 — about 12km more last year’s. However, the eight dirt sectors will be nearly the same. Notably, the long, 9.5km sector at the halfway point remains. Known as San Martino in Grania, this stretch of dirt undulates before finishing with a tough climb back to the paved road.
Women’s Strade Bianche profile
The men’s route is also slightly longer for 2018, nine kilometers more than 2017. As was the case last season, the route includes 11 dirt sectors. The biggest change is found in the second dirt sector, which is now 5.8km, 1.1km longer than in 2017. The peloton will ride all of the Bagnaia climb on dirt. To do so, the race reverses direction on the first part, called Vidritta.
Sky’s Michal Kwiatkowski is the defending champion in the men’s race after riding alone into Piazza del Campo, atop a hill in Siena, Italy. In the race’s 11-year history, no man has won two consecutive editions.