Strade Bianche Preview (1.WWT)

A year after the inaugural edition of Strade Bianche Women Elite, the historic city of Siena will witness a new piece os history while becoming the heart of worldwide cycling, hosting the first UCI Women’s World Tour race ever. On Saturday, March 5th Siena will witness the start of a new era for women’s cycling. The Women’s World Tour starts here, on Siena’s gravel and clay roads, in an enchanting landscape ideal to promote and extend the beauty of a sport that has been making impressive steps forward over the last decade, with higher prize money and TV coverage (despite the fact that men and women parity is still far to be achieved), and higher quality top-level teams. As the UCI motto says: A deserved place for women cycling, that is what we all heartily want, an event (UCI WWT) that will take majors step towards eliminating barriers and distinctions within cycling, leading to a full equality between men and women.

“It’d be a dream to win the 1st UCI WWT race at home in Italy” said Elisa Longo via . This excitement around the first UCI WWT event is something palpable as we have seen on social media and on the news during this previous week. An excitement that is double in the case of the 25-year-old Swedish rider Sara Olsson, who missed 2015 cycling season due to health issues. That’s why we found it very interesting and appropriate that she would share with us some feelings and her impressions about her comeback and the first UCI WWT event ever.

sara olsson

“I had a pleurisy, from March till the end of August” stated Sara as the health issue that prevent her from riding during 2015 and that made her training at a very low pace in order to keep her heart rate within a low range. “I am determined to get back to a good form and being able to race on top level for good results and my main goal is to get selected to the Rio Olympics” said Sara as we asked her about her season expectations.

“There is an excitement around the first UCI WWT event of course and you can really see on social media that it is a big deal and a lot of excited ladies. For me it’s a double excitement since it’s also my comeback” “It might be one of the coolest races I’ve ever done and it’s an epic way to start racing again. It’s gonna be one of the absolute hardest races of the year for sure and I am super happy to be part of the first WWT ever!” replied Sara as we asked her about atmosphere around the first UCI WWT event. “It’s a great step for the women’s peloton and hopefully it will generate growth for the future of our beautiful sport.”

Sara Olsson, who will turn 26 on Sunday, switched teams this season, leaving British Matrix Fitness and joining Italian Inpa Bianchi. “I am feeling very welcome in to this team and I really feel like I get along well with all my teammates. A laugh is never far away and that is important for me. I think it has potential of being a great season” said Sara. After riding one year at the British team and the previous two at Norwegian Hitec Products team she made a move into a team with a very different culture. “Well, the culture is very different in Italy compared to what I am used to, everything from food to the social part is different. The mentality is not always the same but it’s obvious that it is a big cycling country for sure.”

“It is for sure important to deliver a nice performance on Saturday as it is one of the most important races for our team, since it is “home soil” in Tuscany. But we are also realistic and know that we are a smaller team and it is going to be one of the hardest races of all season, especially because of the course itself but also for the weather since wind is more of a rule than an exception here. We are going in to the race with a good focus and a positive mind.”

Prize parity is a big concern towards women’s cycling development. However, at the very first UCI WWT event, Strade Bianche’s male winner will earn 566% more than the female winner while the total prize pool will be 266% higher for the male edition than at the female. “We have a long way to go with equality and it is for me very strange how it is possible in 2016 to have this big of a difference but it is also something that has to grow by time. Things are happening all the time for women cycling right now and I hope races on this level realises that they need to get on that train” stated Sara.

“Under Brian Cookson’s administration, we set out to place women’s cycling on the same platform as men,” said Tracey Gaudry, UCI Vice President and Chair of the UCI Women’s Commission. “In less than three years we have created the UCI Women’s WorldTour. Teams, riders and event organisers are all on-board, and fans will now be able to see the best female cyclists all around the world.”

Replacing the former UCI Women Road World Cup, which ran since 1998, the UCI Women’s WorldTour has been established to accommodate the fast growth of women’s cycling and provide a significant boost to the sport.The 2016 UCI Women’s WorldTour will comprise 35 days of racing, including Spring Classics, exciting stage races held worldwide and monument races attached to men’s UCI WorldTour events. In total, competition days will increase by more than 60%.

  1. Strade Bianche, ITA – 05/03/16
  2. Women’s WorldTour Ronde van Drenthe,  NED – 12/03/16
  3. Trofeo Alfredo Binda – Comune di Cittiglio, ITA – 20/03/2016
  4. Gent-Wevelgem In Flanders Fields, BEL – 27/03/16
  5. Ronde van Vlaanderen / Tour des Flandres, BEL – 03/04/16
  6. La Flèche Wallonne Féminine, BEL – 20/04/15
  7. Tour of Chongming Island, CHN – from 06/05/16 to 08/05/16
  8. Amgen Tour of California, USA – from 19/05/16 to 22/05/16
  9. Philadelphia International Cycling Classic, USA – 05/06/16
  10. Aviva Womens Tour, GBR – from 15/06/16 to 19/06/16
  11. Giro d’Italia Internazionale Femminile, ITA – from 01/07/16 to 10/07/16
  12. La Course by Le Tour de France, FRA – 24/07/16
  13. Prudential Ride London, GBR – 30/07/15
  14. Crescent Vargarda UCI Women’s WorldTour, SWE – 19/08/16
  15. Crescent Vargarda UCI Women’s WorldTour TTT, SWE – 21/08/16
  16. GP de Plouay-Bretagne, FRA – 27/08/16
  17. LA MADRID CHALLENGE By La Vuelta, ESP – 11/09/16

Programme

Screen Shot 2016-03-02 at 13.04.49

Saturday, March 5th, Local Time: 9:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. approx.

23 teams will race in this edition.

Route 121 km: Siena – Siena

StradeBianche15_alt
Race profile

One of the most charming races in the world. Strade Bianche’s course is a one-of-a-kind. It starts and finishes in Siena, and is not easy at all, as it features 7 gravel sectors totalling 22.4 km on dirt roads out of 121. Indeed, it is a gruelling race with gradients as high as 18%, and an uphill finale with a steep spurt running up Via Santa Caterina, at the heart of the old town of Siena. The 7 gravel sectors are the following ones:

  1. At km 11, a perfectly straight and slightly uphill dirt-road segment of 2.1 km. Shortly before Passo del Rospatoio the first climb of approx. 5 km at around 5% on paved road.
  2. At km 39.8, the second gravel sector starts, which is less demanding in terms of altimetry and leads to Buonconvento.
  3. At km 59.5, and shortly after Monteroni d’Arbia, the third dirt-road sector begins, San Martino in Grania, 9.5 km across the unique scenery of the Crete Senesi hills. The longest dirt-road sector, marked by gentle ups and downs in the first part, and ending with a long, curving climb leading back to paved road.
  4. At km 85.5, a short 1 km white-road sector.
  5. At km 97.3, an unpaved two-digit gradient sector 800 meters long.
  6. At km 101.6, the second last segment of 2.4 km on the steep Colle Pinzuto climb (gradients reaching max 15%).
  7. At km 107.7, the last dirt-road segment of 1.1 km, marked by a quick descent and followed by a steep climb (max 18%), ending in Le Tolfe.

Expert opinion (Sara Olsson):

“There is a 5km hill of about 7-8% after 23km, where a lot of girls are going to suffer, a few kms after the second gravel road starts straight after a fast downhill and it will be important to stay alert for sure. Gravel section number 3 is going to be a key part with 9km of up and down on a road that is far from perfect. This will probably be the part where the key splits will come. After this it is just full gas, up and down step shorter hills untill the finish more or less.”

ultimos km strade
Last 20k profile

Favourites and Outsiders (by Sara Olsson)

  Emma Johansson,  Elisa Longo Borghini,  Megan Guarnier,  Lizzie Armitstead,  Pauline Ferrand Prevot

Previous edition

Megan Gaurnier (Boels-Dolmans) won the first women’s Strade Bianche after a 16-km solo attack following a move by her teammate Lizzie Armitstead that softened up the competition. As expected, the women’s field shattered on the very tough 9.5 km section of white gravel at the 58 km mark. A group of 14 emerged from the dust as team Bigla decided to go on the attack. Later the group found itself reduced to five, with Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio (Bigla), Anna van der Bergen (Rabobank-Liv), Italian Elisa Longo Borghini (Wiggle-Honda) and the Boels-Dolmans duo. Armitstead surged on the penultimate section of gravel and Garner pulled through, soon establishing the gap that she would hold. Elisa Longo Borghini rounded out the podium after Lizzie Armitstead beat her in a sprint.

Armitstead, Guarnier and Longo-Borghini on the podium @L_ArmiTstead
Armitstead, Guarnier and Longo-Borghini on the podium @L_ArmiTstead

Highlights of 2015 Strade Bianche Donne (WE 1.1)

Results

Participants
Live

No live streaming but exclusive content will be accessible including highlights via InCycle and UCI

Twitter: @_RoadAndMud /  / @StradeBianche

Sources

Web oficial
PCS
Velonews

Written by:
Diego Martín

Sara Olsson

 

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