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"This is special. I had to play at the end; it was a lottery and I knew I had to risk. I had trust in myself; it was experience. I knew that Etixx was going to play the team game, and I just had to make sure that Brambilla did not...

Photo: Sirotti

ALEJANDRO VALVERDE

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ANDRIY GRIVKO

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BARDIANI CSF

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CCC DEVELOPMENT TEAM

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DAMIANO CUNEGO

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DAMIEN HOWSON

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DAVIDE REBELLIN

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DECEUNINCK - QUICK-STEP

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DIEGO ULISSI

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FABIAN CANCELLARA

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GIANLUCA BRAMBILLA

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GREG VAN AVERMAET

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JAKOB FUGLSANG

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JENS KEUKELEIRE

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LARS PETTER NORDHAUG

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LOTTO SOUDAL

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LUKE DURBRIDGE

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MACIEJ PATERSKI

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MICHAL KWIATKOWSKI

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MIKE TEUNISSEN

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MITCHELTON-SCOTT

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MOVISTAR TEAM

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NIPPO - VINI FANTINI

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PETER SAGAN

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ROBERT GESINK

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SALVATORE PUCCIO

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SONNY COLBRELLI

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STRADE BIANCHE

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TEAM JUMBO-VISMA

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TEAM NOVO NORDISK

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TIESJ BENOOT

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TREK - SEGAFREDO

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UAE TEAM EMIRATES

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ZDENEK STYBAR

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05.03.2016 @ 21:09 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Fabian Cancellara (Trek) made history by becoming the first rider to win Strade Bianche three times when he came out on top in a hugely dramatic finale of the 10th edition of the race. With a powerful surge on the climb to the finish, he and Zdenek Stybar (Etixx-QuickStep) passed Stybar’s teammate Gianluca Brambilla less than 200m from the finish and the Swiss managed to hold off the defending champion in the technical finale to take his second victory of the year. Brambilla completed the podium.

 

We have gathered several reactions.

 

Fabian Cancellara: My experience made me take the right risks

In a show that his final professional season will be one for the history books, Fabian Cancellara claimed his third victory in Strade Bianche Saturday, crossing the line just ahead of last year's winner Zdenek Stybar (Etixx Quick Step). 

 

"This year I really want to go out with a bang," said Cancellara. "I want to thank all my teammates for supporting me today, and all these years. This is just amazing. I am happy as a kid!"

 

"I knew that Stybar is a cyclocross guy, so I had to be careful for him. He won last year as well, and he is very good at this last climb. I am very, very happy. Third time, and now they will name a white gravel section after me - sector 6 - I am honored."

 

Etixx-Quick Step teammate Brambilla rolled across the line for the final podium spot after riding out front in the break for most of the race and trying his best to thwart the stronger legs of Cancellara and Peter Sagan (Tinkoff) with a few attacks in the final eight kilometers. 

 

Brambilla opened a dangerous gap with six kilometers to go, but the calm experience of Cancellara, and with reassurance from the team car, he laid his last cards flawlessly.

 

"For sure the car gave me the last confidence for the win," explained Cancellara about the tactical battle in the closing kilometers. "They helped me play with the tactics of the Etixx guys. They told me also to let Sagan work [in the chase] and that we don't give too many seconds to Brambilla. He was already in the front all day, so I could catch him in the last climb, and we can play there. Everything went perfectly well. 

 

"I made the pace on the final climb because I knew that Sagan would not do it because I saw him already in a little bit of difficulty. I knew that it was probably going to be Stybar and me, so I had to play like this.

 

"This is special. I had to play at the end; it was a lottery and I knew I had to risk. I had trust in myself; it was experience. I knew that Etixx was going to play the team game, and I just had to make sure that Brambilla did not take too much time."

 

It was Peter Sagan's attack on the final gravel sector that blew the race apart, separating the three strongest from the rest of the contenders.  Sagan, Stybar, and Cancellara quickly caught Brambilla, the sole survivor of the day's five-man breakaway, and this quartet would survive to the end.  

 

When Brambilla began to launch attacks, the tactical game favored Etixx- Quick Step. But Cancellara remained poised under Etixx's pressure, although admitted it wasn't until he was meters from the line that he knew he had the win. 

 

"The most decisive moment was when Peter made the acceleration, and I managed to jump up to him and Stybar," continued Cancellara. "It wasn't a big collaboration between us because we are all big riders, plus Etixx had a team game to play. I think my work in the last 5 kilometers was risky, but it was the only way. 

 

"I knew I had it at the line, not earlier. Stybar is great here, and I had to pay attention. And Peter also. Anything can happen. It all worked out, and I am proud.

 

"Next year I will not be here, but there will be my name. I already had a bridge in Ittigen where I live named for me, and now this. It's a big honor.

 

"This day is special. I had to play my best cards. I'm speechless. I knew that I couldn't let Brambilla get too far ahead, despite Etixx-Quick Step outnumbering me. I used my experience and confidence to leave it to the very end. It's because I know myself very well. To win it for the third time means that I have made history as I'll now have my name on a gravel road. I put my mark in Siena forever. It makes me happy.

 

"Today it’s special because I won and I’ll have my name on a “sterrato” forever. That’s what gave me extra motivation, making me fight from the beginning. The way I won, the way the last 20km unfolded, I can look back and enjoy what I’ve achieved.

 

“This morning I thought I could make history. It’s a huge honour to have my name on a traveled road, coming off the back of a bridge being honoured in my recognition in my home town, though maybe sector seven would fit better with my lucky number! Next year I won’t ride but I’ll know that sector number six will carry my name. The young riders will see it and that makes me really satisfied.

"Only on the finishing line I knew I had won. Stybar is a tough guy who can perform well on the last climb. I also had to pay attention to Peter [Sagan], because with him you never know.

 

“From the team car, Adriano Baffi and Luca Guercilena gave me confidence when one rider from Etixx was attacking and the other was sitting on my wheels. 'You have to take a risk,' they told me. I tried to drop them twice but couldn't. Brambilla went and I tried to not leave him too many seconds, though I knew the uphill would be hard for him. Thankfully my experience paid off today. Taking a risk, you can win or lose, but at the end I won. It’s a good sign for the races to come, starting with Milan-San Remo.

"We can see how the race is growing in stature, especially with the big names racing. Many teams arrived on Thursday instead of Friday, too, showing its importance. A race can’t become a World Tour event just like that, but this race has to go up to the next level. It’s a great opportunity for the organizers and the riders. Siena carries a lot of history. On the road, the gravel makes it unique.

"I definitely won’t race here next year. I might watch it on TV from my sofa or come back as a guest. Tomorrow I’ll take part in the Gran Fondo.

 

“I knew that it was my last Strade Bianche but that I knew I had s chance to win. I knew it was going to be a harder race with a shorter course but I had the power to close the gap on Peter when he made the progression. Then I waited until the finish while keeping Brambilla under control. When you race to win, it’s a game. I knew I had to take risks but the risks I’d taken before showed me that I’d already made the right risks. If I think back, I realise I raced it well.

 

“There were so many people there that I couldn’t move. Then I saw all the team staff in red jackets so I decided to celebrate and then to leave the bike with them and walk to podium. I saw all the people in the square and when you win like that you’re really happy. I was as proud as a little boy.

 

“I’m really happy about that [getting a sector named after him] I knew this morning that there was a possibility and that I could make history and its great to do it.

 

“My lucky number is seven, so maybe that would be better but it’s special because I know I won’t ride Strade Bianche again but I know that sector six will bear my name. I have a bridge in my home town, now I have a gravel sector too.”

 

“I really want to enjoy my last season. I’ve won almost everything during my career and so whatever comes on top is just a big bonus.

 

“I think with this third win, the real season has begun. I’ve won already in Mallorca and Algarve but I’m not yet where I want to be. We’ve got something like 29 days until the big ones. But everything that comes this season is extra.”

 

“I race with my freedom I push my teammates because they know what to expect when I’m riding good. I want to stay healthy and I have nothing to lose. That’s how I’m going to race, with my passion for racing.

 

“People keep telling me that I’m not old and that I should carry on. It happened in Mallorca where I won, in Dubai and in Algarve where I won the time trial. Today I won too but it’s not a matter of winning or getting a huge contract for another two years and carrying on.

 

“I could easily ride for more years but that’s not what I want. I’ve got 16 years in the pocket and as I’ve always said, this is the last year. Whatever comes there won’t be another decision, no Hour Record, no World Championships. I could win a lot more but winning is not everything in life. I always say that cycling is part of life but it’s not all my life.

 

“My decision to retire came out as I was racing. It came out like a gut feeling. I enjoy riding my bike, I know my race plan and know it’s the last time, so I can enjoy it even more, I can enjoy my freedom.

 

“I have ambitions and plans for the future but for sure I won’t put a number on my jersey to compete in the bunch against the other guys.”

 

Long before Sagan's attack split the race for good, the Trek-Segafredo team put in a mountain of work, minimizing the gap to the five-man breakaway and softening up the peloton ahead of the critical gravel sector six, the longest and hardest and rated five stars.

 

Earlier, Jasper Stuyven punctured and Markel Irizar sacrificed a wheel so the young Belgian could continue. Stuyven was in the decimated peloton that numbered less than 30 riders when the race entered its final stages, and helped neutralize the chasing group after Cancellara had moved ahead in the final kilometers.

Cancellara cemented his place in the white gravel road's history and it was a huge win. But it takes a team.

 

Zdenek Stybar: I’m not ashamed to lose to Cancellara

Although he missed on the chance of becoming the first rider to win Strade Bianche in consecutive years, Zdenek Stybar was upbeat at the finish in Piazza del Campo, where he showed himself satisfied with the form he has at this point of the season: "The last corner is a key of the race, and we had again of confirmation of this today. I tried to overtake Fabian, but he was too strong and didn't let me in. I'm not ashamed to lose to Cancellara.”

 

 “I think the finale is the key, whoever makes to the top of the last climb and then is first through the corner, wins Strade Bianche. Today’s race proved that again,” he told Cyclingnews. “I tried to get past Fabian but he didn’t let me and he was very strong.

 

”What makes me proud is that the team did an excellent race, didn't do any mistakes and rode hard all day long.

 

"When Gianluca was at the front, I was hoping he will be victorious, but got caught. It's a pity for him, but we don't have any reason to blame ourselves. To climb again on the podium at Strade Bianche gives me a lot of confidence for the next races, because I'm where I want to be with my form."

 

Impressive Gianluca Brambilla: I am up with the champions more and more often

In his fourth year with the team, Gianluca Brambilla displayed an impressive form since the start of the season, besides the win he scored in Trofeo Pollença-Port de Andratx notching four top 10 placings in the events he raced before the 10th edition of Strade Bianche. On Saturday, he attacked on countless times, worked for the team and had his shot at glory, but came up short in his home country race. Despite that, his impressive ride turned heads, as many discovered a reinvented Brambilla.

 

"On the fifth gravel road sector, a lot of riders were being dropped, so I decided to go to the front and get a small gap, which I did. Others joined in and we kept going until the final 20 kilometers. Then I distanced my breakaway companions and when Styby, Cancellara and Sagan bridged to me, I talked with my teammate and said I will play everything for him, so that he gets a free ride. I attacked relentlessly, went full gas, but eventually I got tired after being all day at the front and got caught with 200 meters to go", said Brambilla, who was greeted at the finish by his girlfriend.

 

The Italian – who later in the season hopes to ride the Giro – continued: "I can't say I lost the race, as Fabian was very strong. Of course I am sad because we didn't land the win, but I am happy for being at the front with such big champions. It's something that's happening more and more often since the beginning of the year, and it motivates me to get another victory sooner or later", concluded the Brambilla.

 

At the end of what proved to be one of the most epic races of 2016, also sport director Davide Bramati saw the positive side of an event in which Etixx – Quick-Step was again at the front all the time: "Tactically, we were perfect and we can't complain. Three of our riders came in the top 5, which is a big result. It's only the beginning of March and we already have 16 victories to our name. This makes us proud and gives us confidence to look forward to the next races."


 “I’m happy and satisfied with third place. I went close today, it almost came off. In the finale, after I‘d been in the earlier move, it was logical that I‘d work for Stybar and that’s what I did. I kept attacking so that Sagan and Cancellara had to chase me, while Stybar could sit on.

 

“I didn’t think I’d faded on the final climb. I managed to hold them off and perhaps just cracked in the last 200 metres. But there was nothing I could do at that point.”

 

Peter Sagan: I’m satisfied that I could give it my all

Peter Sagan continued a strong start to the classics season, taking fourth place in the 176km Strade Bianche in Italy. The World Champion was in contention at the race’s finish in Siena until the last few hundred metres, having forced the winning move late in the race to set up a nail-biting finish.

 

Sagan was positive about his early form. “It is the start of the season and we tried our best today. I'm satisfied I was able to give all I had. Finishing first, third or fourth is part of the sport of cycling.”

 

Patxi Vila, Sport Director, summed up the outcome. “It was a really hard race today, with 3200m of climbing it’s nearly a mountain stage, and together with all the unpaved sectors it’s a hard day out. We saw last week Peter was racing well so we rode to bring him into best position for the final.”

 

Vila continued, “Peter was looking good and made the big move on the penultimate sector to form the lead group but lacked a little something at the end. Overall the performance of the team was good, with five guys in the first main group of around 40 heading into the finale, so it was a good situation.

 

“There were lots of crashes and punctures as you would expect in a race like this, but we managed it quite well today, despite losing Trusov. But he’s OK and is back in the bus with no real problems. So overall we are happy. Obviously we wanted to win and thought we could today, but Cancellara was the strongest at the end. We are on the right line and will keep fighting for the win in the coming races.”

 

“I'm happy with today's race.” Sagan said at the finish. “Weather conditions were good and it didn't rain.I was in the front group but in the finale I didn’t have the legs to go.”

 

Tomorrow the team turns its attention to the Paris-Nice stage race, before Sagan continues his season at the Tirreno-Adriatico on Wednesday.

 

Greg Van Avermaet: I was too far back in the key moment

Greg Van Avermaet has crossed the line in sixth place at the tenth edition of Strade Bianche, in what was an epic battle won by three-time winner Fabian Cancellara (Trek Segafredo).

 

There were multiple attacks throughout that day, including a five rider breakaway featuring Brent Bookwalter that escaped with 76km to go. Bookwalter put in a stellar effort to be reeled back with only 25km remaining.

 

In the end it was a wining move by Cancellara, Peter Sagan (Tinkoff), Gianluca Brambilla (Ettix Quick-Step) and Zdenek Stybar (Ettix Quick-Step) with 20km to go that led Cancellara to his third victory at the one-day race.

 

Van Avermaet said it was a tough day in the saddle.

 

“It was a hard race and I like this kind of racing. I think we did a pretty good job and we had Brent in the break. We put ourselves in a good position but when they went I was maybe a little bit too far behind and couldn’t make it back to the front. I tried a few times and was always close but could never quite get there.

 

“It was good training for the other Classics and for Tirreno-Adriatico, which I’m looking forward to with the team time trial and a few good stages for me, as well as the GC for Tejay van Garderen.”

 

Diego Ulissi: I thought I had the legs to be with the best

Diego Ulissi’s form is excellent but he’s still missing the elusive win. He was 7th at 41 seconds.

 

“I had a very good feeling. I could race as I wanted and I thought I would have been able to be in the front positions in the final kilometers to battle for a top result, maybe with an action on the hilly road in the approach to Siena,” Ulissi explained. “When Stybar, Cancellara, Sagan and Brambilla took the lead, we could organize a good chase which limited the gap to the four attackers. Unfortunately, the last stretch of dirt road sapped the remaining forces for many of the riders who were with me so in the climbs that led to Siena , the chase was no longer good and the quartet was out of our sight. The effort was hard for many and Vakoc could stay behind, having two teammates in front. 
 

”I'm sorry not to be able to transform my condition into a valuable result . I missed a good opportunity, especially because I was still brilliant and I delivered an interesting performance.”

 

Sports director Orlando Maini added: " We tried to give maximum support to Diego and Zurlo, Mori, Niemiec and Modolo did what was possible. Then Ulissi raced very well. Among the ridersin pursuit of the leading quartet he was perhaps the strongest but the situation did not allow him to move. For the potential seen today, the podium was within reach as Diego did everything right. Unfortunately, the race developed differently.”

 

Tiesj Benoot: I had expected a better result

Tiesj Benoot finished eight on the Piazza del Campo in Siena. It was his début in this Italian race.

 

Lotto Soudal could soon be found in front. Jens Debusschere and Pim Ligthart were part of an early breakaway of eight. Five new riders attacked later and one of them was Maxime Monfort. In the peloton Monfort still had three teammates: Benoot, De Clercq and Polish champion Marczynski.

 

It was a hard day, but I knew that before I started,” Benoot said. “I have mixed feelings because I had hoped for a better result. On the other hand I was in the finale at the side of top riders. I can conclude that I didn’t have a great day, but that I was good, otherwise I wouldn’t have finished eighth.

 

“The team was strong today with Jens, Pim and Maxime who joined a breakaway and in the peloton the others kept me out of the wind, I’m grateful to all of them. In the end the strongest riders in the race took off. The images are clear, we had to pass. I was riding in a good position, but the first four just had more punch.

 

”With the chasing group we came pretty close, but everyone was riding à bloc. When Nibali and Kwiatkowski get dropped you know that we were setting a high pace as well.

 

”I’m definitely looking forward to the next editions of Strade Bianche. This is a beautiful race and I want to come back for more. Next week I’ll ride Tirreno-Adriatico where I will further prepare myself for the Classics and assist our GC riders.”

 

Kwiatkowski misses race rhythm, Nordhaug plays his own card

Lars Petter Nordhaug pulled out a strong top-10 finish in Siena following a thrilling edition of Strade Bianche.

 

The Norwegian crossed the line as part of an elite group of chasers after the race blew apart on the penultimate gravel road sector.

 

Fabian Cancellara notched up a hat-trick of victories in the prestigious event as the fight for the win came down to the final corner in the Piazza del Campo.

 

The Trek-Segafredo rider clawed back a spirited late attack from Gianluca Brambilla (Etixx - Quick-Step) and ensured he dived into the downhill finish ahead of 2015 victor Zdenek Stybar (Etixx - Quick-Step).

 

World champion Peter Sagan (Tinkoff) had made up the final part of the lead quartet but found himself distanced on the Via Santa Caterina finish. Nordhaug eventually crossed the line 41 seconds back after hanging on well in the chase collective.

 

Team Sky had enjoyed numbers in the front group for much of the tough 176-kilometre semi-classic, with 2014 race winner Michal Kwiatkowski launching an acceleration heading into the final 20km.

 

Salvatore Puccio rode hard to force his way into an imposing five-man breakaway on the fifth sector, quickly opening out a gap of one minute alongside his fellow escapees, one of which was Brambilla.

 

Luck ran out for the Italian as a mechanical issue stopped Salva in his tracks on the famed Monte Sante Marie sector. Reacting to that disappointment, Nordhaug quickly looked to readdress the balance and attacked with 48km to go before being hauled back.

 

Michal Golas worked tirelessly late on to chase down the leaders, while Gianni Moscon continued to impress with an 18th-place finish - two spots ahead of Kwiatkowski - in his first taste of Strade Bianche.

Strength in numbers

 

"It was a hard day," Nordhaug told TeamSky.com back at the bus. "The race started really early with Quick-Step riding on the front. It was windy and it was important to be up near the front. We were riding for Kwiato and everyone was riding pretty well as a team and doing a good job. Salva Puccio went in the break which was perfect. He was really strong but he was unlucky to have a mechanical problem. That was a shame as I think he could have stayed ahead for a long time.

 

"We tried to position ourselves at the front with Kwiato but in the end it was just really really hard. When Sagan and those guys attacked Kwiato went through to follow but I think maybe missed that last bit of energy to follow them.

 

"For me ninth is pretty good but I was riding for Kwiato. Once I heard he wasn't in the group I just tried to stay up there and finish with a good placing."

 

Sport Director Cioni was pleased with the overall effort after the race, and expanded on the performance of Kwiatkowski. He explained: "Kwiato was probably missing a bit of race rhythm, so when Sagan went he tried but was unable to follow. That is also the problem we saw with Pete (Kennaugh), coming back from a training camp after a long time without racing. On the other hand the team still showed strength in numbers. Lars Petter had the opportunity to go for the race. He got ninth place and if you look at the guys in the top 10 they are all quality riders. So it was a good ride from Lars."

 

For a number of the squad attention now turns to Tirreno-Adriatico, which kicks off on Wednesday. Cioni added: "For Kwiato this race will be very useful for Tirreno. It gives him a different workout and it gives him some good preparation for next week. Salva was very unlucky. That was a very good move and tactically it was really good for us. We had someone in front and if someone attacked from behind he could support. We saw that from Brambilla who survived from that move. Salva looked really strong so I think he'd have been up there at the end."

 

Alejandro Valverde comes up short after strong Movistar performance

The first big classic of the 2016 season for the Movistar Team left lots of teamwork and less of a prize than expected and deserved for the Blues. Alejandro Valverde could only take the day's 10th place at Strade Bianche, the race of the white gravel roads with nine 'sterrato' sections over the 176km course in Siena, Tuscany, which Fabian Cancellara (TFS) won at Piazza del Campo for the third time in his career.

 

The efforts by the group directed by José Luis Jaimerena started right after the early break was established, continued with Ventoso's assistance to Valverde with his bike after misfortune, and reached its summit when a brand new, five-rider move including Grivko (AST), Monfort (LTS) and day's hero Brambilla (EQS) -the Italian led the race until the final climb - went away with 50km left. Andrey Amador, superb in the pursuit, and Giovanni Visconti, always up and down to help his team-mates, protected Valverde in the finale. However, the Spaniard lacked energy to follow the decisive split formed by Cancellara, Sagan (TNK) and Stybar (EQS) in the 'segmento' of Colle Pinzuto (18km from the finish).

 

Insistence and attacks from the Murcia-based rider later on, already in the run in towards Siena, didn't pay off as the 2015 UCI World No. 1 had to stay content with his seventh top-ten finish of the season (11 days of racing). Valverde will be back on Wednesday for Tirreno-Adriatico, as his team-mates, joined by Sutherland and Pedrero, tackle the GP Larciano tomorrow.

 

Jakob Fuglsang: For me it was like going back in time

Jakob Fuglsang was the best Astana rider in 11th.

 

"After the first sector of dirt road, I thought it was not that hard and so it was the beginning of a very fun day,"  Fuglsang said after his first Strade Bianche.

 

"I'm happy with my performance and I must say that my experience in mountain bike helped me to stay upright sometimes .

“I saw several riders who were afraid of falling but for me the "sterrato" was like going back in time".

 

Andriy Grivko was the protagonist of am interesting attack with 4 other riders around the hundredth kilometer of the race.

 

"I've tried,” said the Ukrainian athlete,” but in the race there was a lot of control and it was almost impossible that the peloton would leave us too much space.”

 

Bad luck leaves Gesink isolated on Strade Bianche

Robert Gesink placed 22nd in Strade Bianche on Saturday. On the dusty roads in Tuscany, Enrico Battaglin’s crash and punctures for Timo Roosen, Mike Teunissen and Tom Van Asbroeck meant Team LottoNL-Jumbo’s front men didn’t have much help in the final. A group of strong riders escaped and Fabian Cancellara (Trek - Segafredo) won.

 

“This race was quite a discovery for the most of our riders,” sports director Jan Boven said after the race. “It was an exciting day and we wanted to make the most of it with a solid race plan. At first, we wanted to be in the breakaway. Tom Van Asbroeck succeeded, but we were hoping that the break would last longer. The second part of the plan was to keep Robert Gesink in good position until the race final. We failed on that part.”

 

Just before one of the unpaved sections, Team LottoNL-Jumbo was still with eight riders in front, but it went wrong afterwards.

 

“We lost Enrico Battaglin because of a crash,” Boven added. “He was an important man for us. Afterwards, Timo Roosen, Mike Teunissen and Tom Van Asbroeck punctured. That wasin a crucial moment, and we weren’t able to come back from it.”

 

Robert Gesink wasn’t ashamed of his 22nd place in the end.

 

“It was very hectic,” he said. “It took a lot of power to be in the right position, all the time. I think that it’s good that I did such a hard classic race before my next race in Catalonia.”

 

Mike Teunissen enjoyed his debut in Strade Bianche.

 

“It was a beautiful race,” he said. “This race has more climbing metres than the classics in Flanders, but with the unpaved roads, it is something like the cobblestone classics. It went quite well for me for most of the day. I punctured in a chaotic moment. I ended up in the last group of riders afterwards. I finished the race with them.”

 

Damiano Cunego breaks his wrist in Strade Bianche

Strade Bianche was conditioned by a fall for Damiano Cunego, but NIPPO Vini Fantini was the best among the pro continental teams with Grega Bole in the top 20.

 

“The operation, the hard training and then I am ready to come back very soon. These are my plans because I’m really motivated to come back soon”. 

 

These are the first words of Damiano Cunego on the team bus just after the race. At the 80km mark, Cunego crashed and ended his race.

 

“Unfortunately another team rider fell just in front of me. My team mate De Negri had the space on his right to pass, but I didn’t had the chance to do the same. These are things that can happen in such epic races.”

 

The medical diagnosis is a broken fifth metatarsus of the right hand. In the beginning of next week, he will have surgery to reduce and then immediately restart of training.
 

The race won by Cancellara (Trek-Segafredo) has confirmed the good condition of Grega Bole who was in the best group until the final battle. He finished 23rd, the best result among the pro continental teams. Riccardo Stacchiotti was in the early break.

 

Tomorrow the team will race again in Larciano. Damiano Cunego and Riccardo Stacchiotti will skip the race, the latter suffering a small injury in a crash. Daniele Colli will be a replacement.

 

The line-up is: Grega Bole, Pierpaolo De Negri, Daniele Colli, Eduard Grosu, Alessandro Bisolti, Iuri Filosi, Antonio Nibali

 

Maciej Paterski crashes out of Strade Bianche

For CCC, the 10th edition Strade Bianche saw an offensive performance by Marcin Mrożek and a top 25 spot for David Rebellin.

 

Marcin Mrożek spent a few years racing in Italy and he has delivered some good results in races held on gravel roads. That’s why it was no surprise that he made the 8-man breakaway of the day.

 

In the first part, an unfortunate crash occurred in the bunch and Maciej Paterski was the victim of that accident. He was taken to the hospital and received stitches on his knee. It’s still uncertain how long his break will last, but the medical examination didn’t reveal serious injury.

 

With 30 kilometers to go, the peloton consisted of around 40 riders and Davide Rebellin and Simone Ponzi were among them for CCC. Davide Rebellin arrived in 24th place, 5:15 back. Ponzi took 41st.

 

Difficult day for young Orica-GreenEDGE team at Strade Bianche

The tenth edition of Strade Bianche took place today, whipped by cold winds and under a cloudy sky. The race was won by Fabian Cancellara (Trek) after a close run finale with 2015 winner Zdenek Stybar (Etixx-Quickstep).

 

For ORICA-GreenEDGE Luke Durbridge and Jens Keukeleire were the best placed finishers, rolling in amongst the fragmented main group.

 

Racing across the famous ‘white roads’ of the winemaking region of Chianti and finishing in the iconic Piazza Del Campo in Siena, it proved to be a challenging day for the team.  A bad crash for Damien Howson on the fourth section of gravel road saw him withdraw from the race. Howson has received stitches on his knee from the race doctors and fortunately is not seriously injured.

 

“It was a real shame that Damien (Howson) couldn’t continue with the race after the crash, he was in a good position in the front group and riding very well,” said sports director Neil Stephens.

 

“Obviously we weren’t there at the results end of the race, it was always going to be difficult with a young team in a big race at this early stage of the season.

 

“Overall we did ok today, the young guys did a good job with Christian (Meier), our two leaders Jens (Keukeleire) and Luke (Durbridge) were on their own for the last 50 kilometres and unfortunately ran out of gas for the final.”

 

Stephens continued by looking ahead to next week’s races.

 

“All in all we can look at today as a good build up for Paris-Nice, Tirreno-Adriatico and the classics. We’re heading in the right direction and for the younger guys today was a valuable experience.”

 

Puncture and long chase costly for Sonny Colbrelli at Strade Bianche

Sonny Colbrelli was Bardiani’s top finisher, placing 32nd. Unfortunately, his performance was conditioned by a puncture at km 65 while the peloton was riding at high speed on the third dirt-road sector.

 

“A puncture is something you have to consider in a race like this,” said Colbrelli. “My teammate Barbin gave me his wheel but, due to the speed of the peloton and the time needed to change it,  I had to chase for 30 km. When the race exploded, I paid for the effort. The final result is not what I wanted and expected, but it will be an incentive to give more and more during the next events.”

 

It was also a gutsy performance of young neo-professional Lorenzo Rota who was part of the early breakaway.

 

Novo Nordisk proud to have finished in star-studded group in Strade Bianche

Team Novo Nordisk riders Martijn Verschoor (NED) and Charles Planet (FRA) were among a diminished group that managed to complete Saturday’s extremely difficult 10th edition of Strade Bianche. Nearly 180 riders took the start, but after 176km- featuring nearly 50km of unpaved roads- less than half the group was able to cross the finish line.

 

Team Novo Nordisk’s goal for the race was to once again feature in the breakaway (David Lozano starred in the Strade Bianche main break at the team’s first appearance in 2015), but shortly after the first 10km, an eight-man group pulled away with no Team Novo Nordisk riders present.

 

“It was an extremely difficult day with a lot of crashes in peloton,” said Team Novo Nordisk Senior Vice President of Athletics, Vassili Davidenko. “Luckily our guys stayed safe, but the tough conditions led to many flats and changes. A race like Strade Bianche can go one of two ways: good- when everything runs smoothly- and not so good- when you’re forced to deal with mechanical issues all day. Unfortunately for us, today was the second scenario.”

 

Fabian Cancellara (Trek-Segafredo) edged out last year’s winner Zdenek Stybar (Etixx-Quick-Step) to win his third Strade Bianche, and Verschoor and Planet finished in the race’s second group.

 

“This was a hard, really hard race,” Martijn Verschoor said. “You can see by the number of riders who did not finish how difficult it actually was. Bad luck, such as a poorly timed flats and some missed corners on the downhills, played its part, but today was super tough. Still, Charles and I managed to finish in a group with top riders like Tony Martin, Taylor Phinney and Filippo Pozzato.”

 

“At many one-day classics like Strade Bianche,” Davidenko said, “it’s normal to have only a few riders finish. The teams work for their leaders, and once they’re done they drop out. Our riders did their job today. Tomorrow is another day and another chance.”

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