Prior to the start of the 2016 edition of the race, organiser RCS Sport said that if Cancellara claimed a third edition, they would name a sector of the iconic white gravel roads used in the race after the Swiss star.
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Cancellara duly delivered, adding the 2016 win to his previous victories in 2008 and 2012. It was his final outing in the race before retiring at the end of the season.
On Friday, on the eve of the 2017 race, a permanent milestone was unveiled on the Monte Sante Marie in Asciano, dedicating it to Cancellara.
“It’s a great honour and a great pleasure for me to receive this recognition because this is a very important race,” said Cancellara.
“We’ve seen how fast it developed worldwide in the past few years. I’m proud to have won it three times. It’ll remain in the history of this beautiful event.”
With Cancellara now retired, there’s a chance for another rider to add their name to the list of winners. Cancellara is picking in-form riders world champion Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) and Olympic champion Greg Van Avermaet (BMC) to fight it out for the win.
“For tomorrow I pick Sagan and Van Avermaet who have already showed in Belgium that they are very strong but I wouldn’t disregard [Zdenek] Stybar and [Fabio] Felline either – I’ve seen them in good shape at the last races.”
In addition to the milestone, Cancellara also received a key to the nearby City of Asciano.
Previously, RCS Sport has said that any other rider that manages to win Strade Bianche on three occasions will also have a sector of gravel road named after them. Cancellara is so far the only rider to have won more than one edition since it started in 2007.
The 2017 Strade Bianche comprises both women’s and men’s events, taking place on Saturday, March 4.