My original plan for Strade Bianche day had been to ride my bike from Siena to one of the more distant “white road” sections and watch the races there. When the nasty weather put the kibosh on that idea, I figured out that I could walk out to the final strada bianca section, which was only a couple of kilometers from the center, see the women pass there, and make it back into the center for the men’s finish.
The “Le Tolfe” strada bianca climb turned out to be such a great place to see the race, that if it hadn’t been for the pouring rain, I probably would have just stayed there and waited for the men to pass two hours after the women. Maybe next year!
With about 12k to go to the finish, eventual race winner Anna van der Breggen was already alone in the lead.
Elisa Longo Borghini was next, but a chasing pack led by Katarzyna Niewiadoma, who would soon join and then pass her for second place, was hot on her heels.
Less than a minute passed before the next group, with assorted chasers, appeared.
Two hours later, back in Siena’s Piazza del Campo, Tiesj Benoot took his first professional victory in swashbuckling style.
Grand tour star Romain Bardet was second, with three-time world cyclocross champion Wout van Aert rounding out the youthful podium.
Three-time world road race champion Peter Sagan finished four spots behind his cyclocross counterpart in seventh place, followed by Pieter Serry.
Seventeenth place finisher Simon Clarke was one of many who collapsed over their bikes after crossing the finish line.
Tiesj Benoot said at the press conference that his biggest problem during the race was the grit filling his eyes after he had to remove his mud-covered glasses, and the complaint seemed to be a common one, with riders like Bardet and Clarke employing whatever means they could to clean out their eyes.
Finally, a few podium shots: