What is this race and why should I care about it?
Strade Bianche is a unique race 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.
After moving the race to March the following year, Swiss classics specialist Fabian Cancellara won the first of the three Strade Bianche titles he claimed before retiring in 2016. Unsurprisingly, the race has become a particular favourite with the classics riders, particularly since its move to the earlier part of the calendar. Previous winners include Philippe Gilbert, Michal Kwiatkowski and Zdenek Stybar, while Moreno Moser is the sole Italian to have the race on his palmarès.
Strade Bianche earned itself WorldTour status in 2016. The fifth edition of the women’s edition takes place on the same day as the men’s race and is the opening race of the Women’s WorldTour.