Ciao, buongiorno and welcome to our live rolling blog from the 13th edition of Strade Bianche. As you will probably know, the women’s race got under way early this morning while the men set off just before 10am (GMT). Unfortunately, though, there is limited television coverage of both races so until then it’s a case of catching up on what has already happened via Twitter and waiting for Eurosport to be given the green light. As frustrating as this is for cycling fans – and those trying to report on events out in Italy – it’s quite apposite that a race that is so evocative of days gone by, is almost impossible to follow.
Anyway, I guess if you are reading this you may want to know a little about the race? Strade Bianche is a unique event in the professional calendar that has its earned place in the hearts of cycling fans, despite only being in existence for 12 years. While amateurs are often found aping their heroes at cyclosportives or granfondos, the first Italian race of the World Tour season in fact reverses the paradigm.
Taking its lead from the huge popularity of L’Eroica, the non-competitive amateur event that traverses the chalky white roads of Tuscany and requires riders to complete the event on retro steel bicycles, RCS Sport, organisers of the Giro d’Italia, launched Strade Bianche – then called Monte Paschi Eroica – in October 2007 when Alexandr Kolobnev won the inaugural edition of the race.