Strade Bianche guide
We preview the eighth edition of an already classic race
Last Updated: 08/03/14 5:31pm
A spectacular parcours, featuring demanding sections of dusty Italian white gravel road, provides a stiff test of bike and rider before the tense run into Siena and the emotive Piazza del Campo finish.
A stacked entry list of one-day specialists and Grand Tour contenders provides a mouth-watering spectacle. Peter Sagan, Cadel Evans, Alejandro Valverde and Mark Cavendish are all set to start alongside former winners including Fabian Cancellara and defending champion Moreno Moser.
With 200km on the agenda, the action kicks off in San Gimignano ahead of a gruelling and undulating parcours with barely a moment of respite.
The riders must take on 45.1km of gravel, split up into ten sections (two more than last year), with the first arriving after just 32km. The race heads south-east through Murlo and Montalcino, but the stiffest tests will arrive on the return north.
At 9.2km and 11.5km respectively, the two longest gravel sectors of the race could play a key role in splitting up the action across Lucignano d'Asso (number 6) and Monte Sante Marie (number 7).
The completion of both takes the peloton inside the final 40km, with a reduced group more than likely to tackle three final quick-fire sectors. The final stretch of dirt road measures little over 1km, but is completed with just 12km left to race.
After a leg-breaking race the riders are faced with a final test in the form of a 16 per cent wall of a climb into the Piazza del Campo.
Narrow streets create a claustrophobic final kilometre and the first rider into the final corner is almost guaranteed to hold his advantage on the brief downhill squirt to the line.