Only seven months after the first participation at the Strade Bianche (1.UWT, 6/03), Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux will be at the start of its second classic on the white Tuscan roads. Next Saturday at 11h40, organisator RCS will give the start of the race in Sienna. The parcours is a copy of the previous edition. The riders will immediately plunge in the race, with the first gravel section after 17.6 kilometer already. The ’settori sterrati’ are spread on the course and alternated with asphalted climbs. The last sector is 12 kilometer from the finish line in Sienna, but is not the last difficulty for the riders. The succession of short and steep climbs doesn't offer many opportunities for recovery. Despite the expected rain before the race, there will be enough dust on the 63 kilometer gravel sections. Around 16h15, the successor of Wout Van Aert is expected to finish on the Piazza del Campo.
With Andrea Pasqualon, Simone Petilli and Lorenzo Rota, three out of the four Italian riders from Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux will start in the race on the white Tuscan roads. Next to them, also Jan Bakelants, Théo Delacroix, Tom Devriendt and Loïc Vliegen, who were present at the Italian opening race Trofeo Laigueglia, will be at the start. Last season, Vliegen finished in the top 20 of the summer edition of the Strade Bianche. Delacroix and his Italian and Belgian teammates will receive the support of sport directors Valerio Piva and Jean-Marc Rossignon.
Valerio Piva (Sports Director):
« This Thursday, we did the recon of the important final 100 kilometer, so they know the approach to the Monte Sante Marie well, usually a crucial point in the race. Simone Petilli is after a good UAE Tour motivated and Andrea Pasqualon has shown in the classic opening weekend that he's in a very good condition. Also Lorenzo Rota and Jan Bakelants showed themselves in the difficult Boucles Drôme-Ardèche and Trofeo Laigueglia the past week. Loïc Vliegen showed last season that the Strade Bianche suit him, so with the help of his experience in this race he'll lead our selection. »
« Although we have a line up of riders in a good condition at the start of this fantastic and hard race, luck also plays a role. The race is always nervous from the start. We have to join the early breakaway on the first or second gravel section, and protect Loïc Vliegen in the peloton behind. But, we'll also need to pay attention to the scenario in which a large group with favorites already distances the peloton in the beginning of the race. We don't have a race favorite in our team, but with this line up we can definitely play a role and finish in the top 10 or 15. »
Selection Strade Bianche: