One-day bike races become classics because of their great and storied past in the lexicon of cycling. When I think of these classics, which take place in the spring of the pro-racing calendar, the names Paris-Roubaix and Ronde van Vlaanderen (Tour of Flanders) immediately come to mind. In recent years, however, there is a third race that is rapidly gaining stature and popularity in the classics hierarchy. This race is Le Strade Bianche (white gravel roads). The race is 188 kilometers long and takes place in the Tuscan countryside all around Siena. The course profile is a lot like the Tour of Flanders in that it is made up of many short steep hill sections. The race organizers then throw in 8 sections of gravel roads which are similar to the cobble sections of Paris-Roubaix. Strade has all the elements of a truly great Spring Classic, and it is quite possibly one of the most exciting bike races to watch all year.
|The Tuscan countryside around Siena|
Liam and I had wanted to go to Siena to check out this great event since last year when we saw Fabian Cancellara (Spartacus) win the race. We had been planning a late winter training camp in Lucca, Italy around the same time, but it just didn't look like the timing was going to work to get there this year. While we were in Lucca, however, I got a message from our friend Jose Been asking if we were going to be at the race. Jose (Tour de Jose) is a cycling reporter and she was covering the Strade imbedded with the Vacansoliel Team. That tipped the scale in favor of Siena and a white road pre-race recon. Unfortunately, it wasn't possible to stay in Siena for the entire race, but we would be able to ride part of the course the day before, and go to Gaiole in Chianti for the start race morning.
|Fabian looking over his racing steed|
|Riding in the wake of Spartacus|
|Tough climbs on sections of the Strade|
|Liam was digging it!|
|Liam and Jose in Siena|
|The race start at Gaiole in Chianti|
Live Strong, Train Safe and Live Well!
This is Bill and Liam signing out.