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Strade Bianche 2021 returns to ‘traditional route’

Racers will tackle the iconic white roads, with the familiar leg-busting finale, in early March.

The Strade Bianche will return to its traditional route for 2021.

Currently on the WorldTour calendar for March 6, both the men’s and women’s peloton will take on the distinctive white gravel roads in a return-to-normal Italian classic.

Wout van Aert plans a title defense, after some downtime following the current cyclocross season.

“After the Cyclocross World Championships I’ve taken a short break and since then I have started my preparations for the new season. In the beginning, my main focus will be on the one-day races. I’m very much looking forward to my Italian block. Not only because of Strade Bianche, but this time also because of Tirreno-Adriatico,” van Aert said.

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The 184km men’s race will cover 11 sectors totaling 63km of gravel. The 136km women’s race will traverse 8 sectors of gravel for a total of 31.4km on the white roads.

“Today’s announcement for Strade Bianche and Strade Bianche Women Elite consolidates a route that has, over the years, made ‘Europe’s most southern northern classic’ a reference point among the great races on the international racing calendar,” said CEO and general manager of RCS Sport Paolo Bellino.

Immediately after the coronavirus racing restart, the 2020 edition unfolded on August 1st. Wout van Aert of Jumbo-Visma was the men’s champion last year, while Annemiek van Vleuten scored her second consecutive win.

With temperatures in the mid-90s Fahrenheit, nearly 50 percent of the respective race fields to abandon before the finish. Julian Alaphilippe, Mathieu van der Poel, and Michal Kwiatkowski were among some of the mid-race abandons in the men’s event.

The women’s event did not have as much attrition.

“There were a lot of emotions,” said the 2020 winner Van Vleuten. “The Piazza del Campo is the most beautiful finish for me to win. A lot of emotions. I didn’t think I would catch Mavi Garcia and I believe the whole scenario has made it a very spectacular race.”

Annemiek van Vleuten wo the 2020 Strade Bianche women’s race. Photo: Gian Mattia D’Alberto – LaPresse

2021 Strade Bianche route

Of note for the traditional route in 2021, the final kilometers have sections pitched 16 percent as the route approaches Siena. At 2km to go, the route joins Via Esterna di Fontebranda, with an upward slope of 9 percent. Just inside of the flame rouge, the route passes beneath Fontebranda Gate where the road surface becomes paving slabs, and continues to tilt upwards. At 500m road gradient is sustained 16 percent, along the Via Santa Caterina. The road climbs for another 250m or so, before turning right at 150m from the line onto Via Rinaldini. The final 30m of each race is a 7 percent drop to the finish line on flat roads.

2021 Strade Bianche men’s race final kilometer.
2021 Strade Bianche women’s race final kilometer.
2021 Strade Bianche men’s route.
2021 Strade Bianche women’s route.