Sometimes cycling is accused of being boring. That is because people uses to pay attention to this sport only during the Tour de France, where before the real action begins, we must bear a full week of flat stages with only few kilometres of emotion where a sprint decides the winner, usually Mark Cavendish in the last years. Tour de France is a 21-stages race and no one makes all-in attacks until the end, so the race uses to go controlled.
Classics are different, with 200 riders fighting for just one goal in one racing day. There is no tomorrow. There are many kind of classics, some are cobbled, others have many hills and also in some races riders must ride on cobbled hills. But there is one special classic that in only 6 editions since it was hold first has become one of the favourite races of the cycling fanatics. I am talking about the Strade Bianche (formerly Montepaschi Eroica), a race that takes place in northern Italy, in Toscana. From Gaiola in Chianti to Piazza del Campo square in Siena, the race includes more than 50 kilometres of gravel roads, best known as sterrato, that makes this race unique in the world. This Saturday Siena will host the arrival of the seventh edition.
It is impressive to watch cyclists riding through unpaved roads, the typical rural paths of a region that bases its economy in de development of wine and the imagine of riders among vineyards is absolutely amazing. If we consider that in the last days it has rained and snowed heavily in all Europe, the Saturday’s race will be a show of dirty riders, completely covered by mud, who will struggle to keep their balance and avoid crashes. It is one of the most savages races of the cycling calendar and although some claim that it is a dangerous race, crashes are almost unavoidable, since it was hold first the interest of sport fans in this race has increased considerably. And now that cycling is unluckily losing fans due to doping scandals, races like Strade Bianche could help people becoming more keen on cycling.
There will be many outsiders for the victory but the result is unpredictable. Falls, punctures and so on can fritter away the strongest rider’s options for the victory, so the winner must hold good luck, strength and a right strategy (we must remember last year’s race, when Benatti’s attack allowed Cancellara not to collaborate in the chasing group and kept all his strength for his final blow to get the victory). However, Valverde, Pozzato, Moser, Cancellara, Sagan, Evans and Phinney are supossed to be the contenders of the 2013 edition.
It’s without a doubt a race that I strongly recommend not to miss. Even if you are not fond of cycling, this is the kind of race that makes people become more keen on cycling races and encourages following this sport in the coming spring classics.
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