Eight riders to watch in the men's Strade Bianche 2023

Wout van Aert sits out due to illness, opening the door for a potentially new winner in the Piazza del Campo

Tom Pidcock
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Many of the greatest male Spring Classics contenders will be heading to Italy in the coming days ahead of Strade Bianche on Saturday. All eyes will be on the likes of 2021 champion Mathieu van der Poel (Alpecin-Deceuninck) and Tom Pidcock (Ineos Grenadiers), two of the biggest favourites in the absence of Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma) who is sitting out the race due to illness and defending champion Tadej Pogačar. 

Van Aert was originally due to start his 2023 season at Strade Bianche, but will now delay entering the fray until Tirreno-Adriatico which begins a few days later. Tadej Pogačar (UAE Team Emirates), the defending champion after his 2022 victory, also won’t be present this year due to racing Paris-Nice which also begins in early March.

Strade Bianche is famous for its 11 gravel sectors, or sterrato, which make for 63 kilometres of spectacular racing in the 184 kilometre long event. During the last few years the race has been packed full of drama sparked by stunning and brutal attacks from both Van der Poel and Pogačar on the way to both of their wins.

Along with the gravel, the riders face a series of short, steep hills through the breathtaking scenery featuring rolling fields and vineyards meaning the course suits puncheur style riders who have the explosiveness to launch attacks across the varying terrain, and the power to make them last. 

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Tom joined Cycling Weekly in early 2022 and his news stories, rider interviews and features appear both online and in the magazine. 

He has reported from some of professional cycling's biggest races and events including the Tour de France and the recent Glasgow World Championships. He has also covered races elsewhere across the world and interviewed some of the sport's top riders. 

When not writing news scoops from the WorldTour, or covering stories from elsewhere in the domestic professional scene, he reports on goings on at bike shops up and down the UK, where he is based when not out on the road at races. He has also appeared on the Radio Cycling podcast.