Defending Strade Bianche champion Michal Kwiatkowski dispels the notion that you need to adapt your bike to tackle the mud and gravel roads of the Tuscan race on Saturday

Team Sky’s Michal Kwiatkowski says that special equipment is unnecessary to win on the muddy, gravel roads of Strade Bianche on Saturday.

He is aiming for a third title when he lines up for the 184-kilometre race to add to his wins in 2014 and 2017. The riders race 63 kilometres on Tuscany’s famous white gravel roads, which were covered in snow a few days ago, but have now changed to mud with rising temperatures.

“You feel that you might need [MTB] SPD more than the road pedals, but I’m hoping to do a good race, I hope to not clip out,” Kwiatkowski told Cycling Weekly.

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“Apart from different tubes, I don’t have any special equipment, it’s kind of the combination when you are on those gravel roads with a steep climb in the end. Any advantage you can get on the Santa Maria [gravel sector], you can lose it in the end, so you have to find a special balance.

“I believe my normal Pinarello F10 race bike and normal Roubaix 25 Contis is the best I can have. Castelli will provide us some great gloves and equipment to not overheat but keep yourself warm.”

Many teams will use disc brakes as they already do in normal road races. Kwiatkowski says its unnecessary.

“We don’t have any crazy long descents and I find that normal brakes on the Pinarello with Shimano are great and it performs well. I’ll race that way, we’ll see if the others have advantages, but I don’t think so. You have to believe in your bike.”

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Strade Bianche first ran in 2007 based on the popular Eroica sportive and quickly gained its place as one of the most popular races thanks to the gravel roads and stunning Tuscan scenery. Fabian Cancellara won the race three times and earned a milestone marker with his name on one of the gravel sectors. Kwiatkowski would get the same if he wins it for a third time on Saturday.

“This race is special for everyone, one of those races where you are 100 per cent sure that the strongest guys are the winner. There’s no playing games,” Kwiatkowski added.

“And sometimes you see brutal fights from the start, and that’s a pity the race is not on TV then. It’s a great race, early in the season, a week after the opening weekend and well placed on the calendar. It’s going to have a great history.”