This year’s Strade Bianche did not go well for a lot of riders. World champion Julian Alaphilippe (Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl) was caught in a spectacular crash along with Tiesj Benoot. Both were previous winners here on this epic race over the white gravel roads of Italy’s Tuscany, but they were far from the only riders to see their day prematurely compromised.
But one rider, Tadej Pogačar, simply rode flawlessly, riding at the front all day with his UAE Emirates team and then soloing away from the pack with nearly 50 kilometers to go, for a stunning victory in one of the world’s greatest one-day races. Pogačar seemingly floated over these gravel roads.
And the victory of the 23-year-old phenom once again begged the question: what can’t Tadej do? After all, the two-time Tour de France winner has already won monuments like Liège-Bastogne-Liège and the Il Lombardia and now he has added this highly technical gravel-packed race.
Already on the first gravel section, the early-morning break had gained over three minutes.
The peloton hits the second gravel section framed in the typical Tuscan landscape.
Quick-Step, Movistar and UAE took to the front early to control the break.
And already Pogačar could be seen riding comfortably at the front.
Pogačar was never far from the front.
The break forges over the Lucignano d’Assos gravel section, one of the longest and most brutal of the entire race.
Julian Alaphilippe, who crashed heavily, was well off the pace at the Lucignano d’Assos section. And while he battled back to catch the leaders, the crash obviously took its toll in the closing kilometers.
The peloton cuts its way through the dusty Martino in Grania section, one of the most spectacular.
And finally with 50 kilometers remaining, the 23-year-old simply blasted away from the field.
With Alaphilippe fading for Quick-Step, his teammate Kasper Asgreen took up the chase. And while he too managed to break free, he had little chance of catching Pogačar and finally finished third.
With more than a minute’s lead as he entered Siena, Pogačar knew that victory was his.
Powering up the grueling Via Santa Caterina climb in the final kilometer.
Cresting Via Santa Caterina, Pogačar can finally savor a victory well-earned.
And virtually every rider who finished this year’s Strade Bianche had reason to be happy.