Fears had grown since the cancellation of the UAE Tour and subsequent quarantine of the riders and teams as to the fate of Italy’s March races.
All three of Strade Bianche, Tirreno-Adriatico and Milan – San Remo have now been called off as Italian authorities seek to contain the coronavirus outbreak and teams look to limit any negative impact they may cause to these efforts. But with Strade Bianche cancelled only 48 hours before riders were set to take to the start line, many had already found themselves in Siena in preparation for the one-day race.
So, why waste the beautiful white gravel roads of Tuscany? This was the thinking of a number of riders as they kitted up to continue building form ahead of the Belgian Classics next month, riding the course as a special training day – or as one very prepared rider jokingly put it – a recon of Strade Bianche 2021.
Michał Kwiatkowski travelled with Ineos before the team called a halt to all their racing until the Volta a Catalunya in late March. It appears the former world champion rode the entire course of Strade Bianche, completing the 184km (and a little bit extra) course in just under six hours. The Polish rider rode at an average of 31.8km/h, burning 5,455 calories as he accumulated a total elevation of 3,531m.
Although race organisers RCS Sport say they have asked the UCI to help reschedule Strade Bianche at a later date in the cycling calendar, CCC’s Simon Geschke is thinking further ahead, jokingly labelling his ride on Strava as a recon of the course ahead of the 2021 edition, looking to get an early one-up on his rivals.
The German didn’t ride the whole route like Kwiatkowski did, instead seeming to have stuck to the first half of the course in the east. He completed his 127km ride in just over four hours, taking in 2,484m of elevation averaging 29.5km/h.
Bora-Hansgrohe travelled to Italy looking to better Peter Sagan’s runner-up podium spots at the 2013 and 2014 editions of the race, before the cancellation forced the team to change tact and include the Slovak in their Paris-Nice line-up.
A number of his team-mates decided to incorporate some of the route into a training ride with Marcus Burghardt deciding to see the lighter side of the circumstances they found themselves in, posting his ride with the comment: “Smile and keep moving. Cycling is healthy.”
Bora-Hansgrohe went on a shorter, 80km ride, for two and three-quarter hours where the former German national road race champion took a number of KOMs along the way.
With Milan – San Remo cancelled further ahead of schedule than Strade Bianche was, it’s unlikely we’ll see riders pointlessly recceing the Poggio, although how many would be able to resist heading out onto the cobbles of Paris-Roubaix anyway even if the coronavirus impedes the Belgian Classics in April?