At 9.05am on Saturday morning the peloton will roll out of Siena for the start of the women’s Strade Bianche (with the men following 90 minutes later), but with less than 24 hours to go until the race, parts of the route are still covered in snow and ice.
The problems appear to be most severe on the second section of gravel roads, a 5.8km sector to Ville di Corsano which is at the 25km mark in both the men’s and women’s races.
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Wiggle High5 rider Emilia Fahin, who yesterday was forced to push her team car after it became stranded on an icy hill, posted a video of the condition of the road, which Coreen Mazzocchi, the team’s videographer, described as “solid ice”.
Other riders, including Quick-Step Floors‘ Pieter Serry, decided not to risk the bike and complete their recons in the team cars, while others nervously posted photos of the snowy conditions from the warmth of their hotel rooms.
The good news is that although the cold and snowy weather in Tuscany has lasted for longer than had originally been forecast, the temperature is now rising with rain falling to help to melt the snow and ice.
Race organisers have also sent gritters out onto the route, to make sure there is no risk of icy conditions disrupting the race.
Thankfully not all teams were affected by the cold conditions, with some parts of the route escaping the worst of the snow as BMC Racing riders got out in the rain to get a taste of some of the gravel.
More rains is expected overnight and during the races on Saturday, raising the possibility that the white gravel roads could turn into brown gravel roads.
This will be the 12th edition of the men’s Strade Bianche and the fourth edition of the women’s race. Michal Kwiatkowski (Team Sky) and Elisa Longo Borghini (Wiggle High5) are the defending champions, with both returning to defend their titles.