KWIATKOWSKI IST ZURÜCK! Elisa Longo Borghini mit einem klassischen Sieg auf der Crete Senesi

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Siena, 4 March 2017 – Today Michał Kwiatkowski made it two as by winning the Strade Bianche NamedSport for the second time adding to his first victory in 2014, the year he became the first Pole to win the Elite world championship for road racing. He rode away solo with 15km to go from a group of top contenders including Ždenek Štybar and Greg Van Avermaet. The reigning World Champion, Peter Sagan, was forced to pull out due to illness after 114km of the race.

1 – Michał Kwiatkowski (Team Sky) 175km in 4h 42 ’42”, average speed 37.141km/h
2 – Greg Van Avermaet (BMC Racing Team) at 15″
3 – Tim Wellens (Lotto Soudal) at 17″

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Italy’s Elisa Longo Borghini of Wiggle High5 achieved one of the best results of her career as she claimed the third edition of the Strade Bianche – and the opening event of the 2017 Women’s WorldTour – on the prestigious Piazza del Campo in Siena, Tuscany. Poland’s Katarzyna Niewiadoma was the runner up for the second straight year and defending champion Elizabeth Deignan took the final podium placing.

1 – Elisa Longo Borghini (Wiggle High5) 127km in 3h 44’ 45”, average speed 33.904km/h
2 – Katarzyna Niewiadoma (WM3 Pro Cycling Team) at 2″
3 – Elizabeth Deignan (Boels Dolmans Cycling Team) at 5″

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The winner of Strade Bianche, Michał Kwiatkowski, said in the press conference: „I became sure I’d win when I reached the top of the last climb before the piazza [del Campo]. My sport director said through the radio that the gap was growing but he didn’t say how much it was; he encouraged me to keep going. It was good because I wanted to push myself to the limit. I didn’t celebrate before the last hill especially because, on wet roads, it can be dangerous till the end and I tried to stay focused. Victory was maybe important for my team and my fans but for myself, I was already happy with the start to the season I’ve had at the Vuelta Valenciana and the Volta ao Algarve. It wasn’t all or nothing for me today. I had a very difficult season last year but I’m happy with my current situation – I can have some fun riding my bike again. I knew from the past editions that the Sante Marie sector is far from the finish. I had difficulties there when Van Avermaet, Wellens and Štybar pushed hard but they actually got rid of their own team-mates, not me. I think I went solo at the right moment. It’s great to have won this race twice. It’s also a great idea from the organizers to name a gravelled sector after triple winners. I haven’t thought of which sector I’d like to have but I’m jealous of Fabian Cancellara who chose the Sante Marie. I don’t know if I’ll win three but I’m already looking forward to coming back.“

Second placed Greg Van Avermaet, said: “I’d have loved to win here today because it’s such a nice race but at the end, I have to be happy to just finish safe. It was such a hard race from very early on, because of the rain and the crashes. If something worse happened to me, I could not have finished second. I’m happy with form and satisfied with my place today. When Kwiatkowski attacked, everybody wanted to go but he was the first one to make a gap. It was very hard to close on him because everyone was looking at each other. Finally we rode away with Tim [Wellens] and [Ždenek] Štybar behind him. Only then we could start working and try to bring him back but he was the strongest because we couldn’t come close enough to him. He deserves the win today. I hope I’ll win this race one day. Every year I come with the expectation of winning but I’m getting older. Everything has to come together. I’ll come back and try to win.”

Third placed Tim Wellens, said: “Seeing the two other names on the podium, Kwiatkowski and Van Avermaet, I can be happy with finishing third. We took the race under control after 60km with the team. We made it very hard. I had good legs. I was a bit surprised that Kwiatkowski went solo from far out but he was very strong and he held it till the end. He really deserved to win. I was already close to winning a classic last year as I finished third at Il Lombardia. I need a bit more luck and a better day. For today, I’m happy with third.”

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Elisa Longo Borghini, winner of Strade Bianche Women Elite, said in the Press Conference: „It’s been a spectacular race for the public to watch but also for us to contest it. I crashed at the entrance to the longest gravelled road section when Chloe Hoskings went down. I had no way to avoid her. My team-mate Audrey Cordon gave me her bike and once I had a quiet moment in the race I took my spare bike from the team car. We were prepared for an mechanical like that but it was still amazing to see my teammates sacrificing themselves for me. I was never afraid that Shara Gillow and Lucinda Brand would make it to the finish when they attacked in the last two kilometers: it was a desperate move and they obviously didn’t have the legs to stay away till the end. In such a hard finale I knew we’d catch them: I watched a lot of videos from the past editions of the Strade Bianche for men and women so I was convinced of being able to win, providing that I’d take the last curve in first position. This race is particularly fascinating, due to the cultural and artistic level of the surroundings. I thank RCS for giving us the media exposure we don’t always enjoy even when other races we take part in are just as great as today’s.“

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Up until Michał Kwiatkowski’s victory today, Team Sky has only made the podium of the Strade Bianche once, with Thomas Löfkvist’s second place in 2010, the first season of the British squad.

Belgium’s Tim Wellens made the top three on his first participation of the Strade Bianche while his compatriot Greg Van Avermaet came second for the second time after 2015 behind Ždenek Štybar.

For the first time since the start of the Strade Bianche in 2007, no Italian rider made the top ten.

Tomorrow the Gran Fondo will see 5,000 sportive riders taking on the very same course as the women’s Strade Bianche pro race in the Terre di Siena.


Photo Credits: LaPresse – D’Alberto / Ferrari

Tw.: @rcssport – @stedicia