Fabian Cancellara (Trek-Segafredo) may have crossed the line first in another scintillating, beautiful and gruelling edition of Strade Bianche on Saturday, but it’s Greg Van Avermaet that came away from the Italian race with the bragging rights on Strava. And we all know that’s what really matters*.
Cancellara was part of a lead group of four riders that also comprised defending champion Zdenek Stybar (Etixx-QuickStep), world champion Peter Sagan (Tinkoff) and all-day-escapee Gianluca Brambilla (Etixx-QuickStep).
Sadly, none of the top four uploaded their ride to Strava, and therefore missing out on the chance of getting some little yellow crowns.
Van Avermaet was in a chase group around 40 seconds behind the lead quartet and finished sixth.
The 30-year-old’s Strava stats for the latter part of the 176-kilometre race are impressive as he covered the final 25.7km (16 miles) in 41 minutes and 43 seconds: an average speed of 37.1kmh (23.1mph). That includes the viciously leg-sapping final climb up and into the Piazza del Campo in Siena.
Not only was Van Avermaet quickest (on Strava) over the final 25km this year, but he was the fastest in the race’s 10-year history, beating the previous best mark held by Sky’s Salvatore Puccio, set in 2014.
Van Avermaet also posted the fastest times on the key Strava segments on the final paved climb in Siena.
Special mention must be made to non-pro Italian Giordano Mattioli, who managed to set the third fastest time on the final climb behind Van Avermaet and Lotto-Soudal pro Tiesj Benoot during Sunday’s Gran Fondo Strade Bianche.
Van Avermaet starts Tirreno-Adriatico in Italy on Wednesday, March 9, in support of team-mate Tejay van Garderen and will then go into the remaining cobbled classics in northern Europe as one of the leading favourites.
“It was good training for the other Classics and for Tirreno-Adriatico,” said Van Avermaet of his Strade Bianche ride. “I’m looking forward to with the team time trial and a few good stages for me, as well as the GC for Tejay van Garderen”