Monday, February 27, 2012
Stars to Clash at 2012 Strade Bianche on Saturday
Philippe Gilbert will wear number one at the Strade Bianche race on Saturday, 3 March, but faces serious competition from some of the best riders in the peloton as he attempts to win on the iconic dirt roads of Tuscany for a second year. Gilbert’s powerful BMC Racing Team line-up includes George Hincapie, Alessandro Ballan and Greg Van Avermaet. Tour de France winner Cadel Evans will ride in support of Gilbert before targeting Tirreno-Adriatico.
Some of the best classsics riders and climbers in the peloton will be out to beat the BMC team. The names of previous winners Fabian Cancellara (Radioshack Nissan Trek) and Maxim Iglinskiy (Astana) stand out on the official entry list of 14 teams, as do those of 2011 Paris-Roubaix winner Johan Van Summeren (Garmin-Barracuda), Peter Sagan (Liquigas-Cannondale) and Roman Kreuziger (Astana). The Garmin-Barracuda team also includes Dan Martin, Ryder Hesjedal and Christian Vande Velde.
Vincenzo Nibali (Liquigas-Cannondale) leads the Italian challenge and proved he is on form with his stage win at the recent Tour of Oman. Italian national champion Giovanni Visconti captains the Movistar team and recently trained on the dirt roads, learning the secrets of the farm tracks that wind through the Tuscany vineyards. Other Italians include sprinter and Tuscan resident Daniele Bennati (Radioshack Nissan Trek), Trofeo Laigueglia winner Moreno Moser (Liquigas- Cannondale) and the prodigious Enrico Battaglin (Colnago-CSF Inox). Despite fracturing his collarbone in Qatar, Filippo Pozzato (Farnese Vini-Selle Italia) is due to ride Strade Bianche. Also on the entry list are China’s Ji Cheng (Team 1t4i), while Fabio Duartes leads the Colombia- Coldeportes team.
The testing 190km race route starts in Giaole in Chianti at 1100 and ends in the spectacular Piazza del Campo in the center of Siena that hosts the annual Palio horse race. There are eight hilly sections of dirt roads for a total of 57.2km of racing on the Strade Bianche. The final sections of dirt roads usually split the peloton before the climb to the center of Siena and the downhill sprint to the finish. The course, "segmento" identifies each section, click to enlarge:
Teams and riders for the 6th edition (click to enlarge):
2011 Philippe Gilbert
2010 Maxim Iglinskiy
2009 Thomas Lovquist
2008 Fabian Cancellara
2007 Alexandr Kolobnev
Photo: (top) Philippe Gilbert on his way to winning last year; (below) a fan cheers during last year's race
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