Monte Paschi Strade Bianche Eroica photo gallery, by Graham Watson>>

Sweden?s Thomas Lovkvist of Team Columbia outwitted a double attack from Milram to win the Monte Paschi Strade Bianche Eroica race on the dirt roads of Tuscany.

The lanky rider is better known as a stage race rider but was one of the strongest on the roller coaster rider through the Chianti vineyards. Linus Gerdemann attacked five kilometres from the finish but faded on the steep climb to the centre of Siena.

He was caught and passed by Lovkvist on the climb and then he powered up the steepled cobbled street. Fabian Wegmann (Milram) tried to go after him and the front group of riders split.

However Lovkvist was the first to enter the spectacular Piazza del Campo in the heart of Siena and crossed the line 4 seconds ahead of Wegmann. Martin Elmiger (Ag2r) at six seconds and Edvald Boasson Hagen (Columbia) was fourth at eight seconds.

?I really like this race. I did it last year and this is a beautiful victory,? Lovkvist said.

?This is probably the best win of my career. It?s the first one-day I?ve ever won. I?ve won stages in races but this is a special race. It?s different to many other races with the dirt roads. The region is very nice and the finish in the centre of Siena is very beautiful. I really like racing in Italy.

Lovkvist is still only 24 but has been a professional since 2003. He has won seven other races including the Circuit Sarthe in 2004.

?I?ve been progressing slowly in the last few years. I had 25 top ten finish last year but was just missing that little bit to get a win. I?ve you go close many times you finally win one.?

?My goal now is to get a good result at Tirreno-Adriatico. This win a bonus and gives me the peace of mind to know that the form is there and that I have the legs to win races.?

LLOYD ON A GOOD RIDE

Dan Lloyd (Cervelo) finished ninth at 19 seconds and team mate Roger Hammond was 14th at 34 seconds.

Lloyd was part of the decisive selection that formed on the final three section of dirt road but lost contact on the final steep climb.

?I was on a good ride but on the last dirt section at about 12km to go, an LPR guy swung over and I had to completely stop. I had to do a race final effort just to get back on and then I was cramping up on the last climb,? he told Cycling Weekly, disappointed by what happened but happy with his form.

Both Lloyd and Hammond will stay in Tuscany until the start of Tirreno-Adriatico on Wednesday. They plan to ride through the Tuscan hills to the start on the coast on Sunday, before resting up for the weeklong stage race.

Mark Cavendish also impressed. The constant climbing in the hills hurt most riders’ legs but Cavendish dug deep and finished 24th, in the main bunch at 1-41. Of the 112 starters only 72 finished but Cavendish was up there, finishing ahead of the likes of Filippo Pozzato (Katusha) and Stuart O’Grady (Saxo Bank).

Montepasche Strade Bianche: Results

1. Thomas Lovkvist (Sweden) Team Columbia 190km in 4-59-0

2. Fabian Wegmann (Milram) at four secs

3. Martin Elmiger (Ag2r) at six secs

4. Evdald Boasson Hagen (Columbia) at eight secs

5. Linus Gerdemann (Milram) at 12 secs

6. Giovanni Visconti (ISD) at 14secs

7. Peter Velits (Milram) at same time

8. Andy Schleck (Saxo Bank) at 16 secs

9. Dan Lloyd (Cervelo) at 19 secs

10. Ryder Hesjedal (Garmin) at 22secs

Other British

14. Roger Hammond (Cervelo) at 34 secs

24. Mark Cavendish (Columbia) at 1-41

64. Ben Swift (Katusha) 12-27.

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