The Strade Bianche‘s history may be short, but it is a race which regularly creates some great early-season Classics racing. The landscape and scenery of the Tuscany region lend themselves beautifully to cycling, with the challenging, dusty parcours juxtaposing with the camera shots of the rolling countryside.
Setting off from San Gimignano, the race, which only debuted in 2007, winds for 176km through the Siena region, finishing with a tough climb in the city of Siena itself.
There have been several remarkable finishes in the race’s history, and here are a few of our favourites.
2016: Fabian Cancellara
It looked like the perfect start to a fairytale final season for Fabian Cancellara when he beat Zdenek Stybar to the line at the 2016 Strade Bianche.
Stybar’s Etixx team had played it perfectly having had Gianluca Brambilla in the front group and attack to put Cancellara and Peter Sagan under pressure, but it wasn’t enough to secure Stybar a second victory in the race.
Instead, Cancellara was able to show some of the old grit and power to push ahead of the Czech and take an historic third victory in the race in his final year as a pro.
2015: Zdenek Stybar
The 2015 edition of Strade Bianche confirmed why the event has rapidly become an early-season highlight: beautiful sun-drenched scenery and fantastic racing.
Stybar was in a four-man group in the final 20km with Alejandro Valverde, Sep Vanmarcke and Greg Van Avermaet – the quartet having dropped dangermen Fabian Cancellara and Peter Sagan earlier on.
As Vanmarcke cracked, the scene was set for a final climb showdown between Valverde, Van Avermaet and Stybar. Van Avermaet put in a huge acceleration causing Valverde to fade, but Stybar caught and then passed his rival to take an emotional victory.
2014: Michal Kwiatkowski
The race in 2014 may have provided the best finish in the race’s short history, and it was somewhat of an upset. In a two-horse race involving Peter Sagan, many people would put their house, their car and even their kids on the Slovakian bringing home the bacon.
2011: Philippe Gilbert
So often it’s the rider who reaches the top of the Via Santa Caterina first goes on to win the race, and Philippe Gilbert was no exception. But the Belgian had company in the form of BMC’s Alessandro Ballan and Lampre’s Damiano Cunego.
Ballan was neck-and-neck with Gilbert as they rounded the final few bends, but the Lotto rider took a better line through the final bend to launch himself into the downhill finish.
2012: Fabian Cancellara
It’s not often a Classics win by Fabian Cancellara doesn’t come first in a list of ‘best wins’, especially with this Spartan effort in 2012.
The Swiss rider kept his cool when BMC’s Greg van Avermaet tried to go off the front, eventually launching his own attack with 12km to go.
Cue a shot of the BMC team car, with the sporting directors cursing Cancellara’s power and admitting defeat as Spartacus took another solo win.