Vanmarcke opens Classics season with third at Omloop het Nieuwsblad
Strade Bianche takes the WorldTour peloton from the cobbles of Belgium to the white roads of Tuscany. The young-but-instant classic tempts general classification contenders and one-day specialists. The 12th edition of the Italian one-day race looks set to throw up an additional challenge beyond the dirt farm tracks synonymous with the course – snow!
“I’m not surprised by the popularity of this race,” said sport director Fabrizio Guidi. “I also think that there are conditions for the popularity to continue to grow. The scenario and characteristics of the course are unique. Strade Bianche represents the answers to those looking for both spectacle and tradition and offers the opportunity for victory to climbers and classics riders.”
An on-form Sep Vanmarcke captains the EF Education First – Drapac p/b Cannondale squad on Saturday. Vanmarcke, third last weekend at Omloop het Nieuwsblad, will be joined by road captain Simon Clarke, Alex Howes, Swedish road champion Kim Magnusson, Dani Moreno, Taylor Phinney and Tom Van Asbroeck. Phinney, who missed out on Abu Dhabi Tour due to illness, makes his season debut in Siena.
“We have a strong team and start with important ambitions,” said Guidi. “It’s difficult to predict how the race will unfold in light of the weather forecast. We have a plan for every situation. We are prepared. We start to win, as always, and strategy and team spirit will make a difference.”
What Strade Bianche lacks in heritage it more than compensates for in mystique. The race has been both a fan favorite and rider favorite since inception.