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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Sunday, March 10, 2019

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2018 Tour de France | 2018 Giro d'Italia

Forgive, son; men are men; they needs must err. - Euripides

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Strade Bianche team reports

We posted the report from winner Julian Alaphilippe's Deceuninck-Quick Step team with the results

Second-place Jakob Fuglsang's Team Astana posted this:

After an impressive race, Jakob Fuglsang finished second in Strade Bianche. He attacked multiple times in the final, ending up with only Julian Alaphilippe to fight for the victory. The French rider eventually won the race just in front of Fuglsang, after the final steep climb in Siena. Wout van Aert completed the podium. Kazakh champion Alexey Lutsenko also made it into the top 10, finishing 7th.

Jkob Fuglsang

Jakob Fuglsang finished second. Sirotti photo

- I felt very strong and I did everything I could to win today. In the end, Julian Alaphilippe was able to hang on and to counter-attack in the final kilometer. Of course I would’ve liked to win this race, but I can be satisfied with the way I raced. The team was strong today and because of this I ended up in a select group together with Alexey Lutsenko. I knew I had to try to force something, so I attacked and only Alaphilippe and Van Aert were able to follow. It would’ve been in my favor if they chased us a bit more, because now Alaphilippe was not pulling and was able to save some energy for the final. But I did everything I could today so I should be happy with this second place. I’m sure with these legs I will be able to get that first place on the podium in one of my next races, - said Jakob Fuglsang.

Wout van Aert was third. Here's what his Jumbo-Visma team had to say:

Wout van Aert has finished third in the Strade Bianche, just like he did in last year’s edition. On the final climb to the Piazza del Campo in Siena, the Belgian leader of Team Jumbo-Visma only saw winner Julian Alaphilippe and Jakob Fuglsang finish in front of him.

Wout vab aert

Wout van Aert crosses the line third. Sirotti photo

Van Aert rode attentively all day on the unpaved white roads through the Tuscan landscape and left a very strong impression. With about twenty kilometres to go, Van Aert attacked in the company of Jakob Fuglsang and Julian Alaphilippe.

On the short but steep Colle Pinzuto the pace was a little too high for the Belgian. On willpower he managed to return to the front going into the final kilometre, after which he managed to secure the podium at his own pace.

“I really rode at my limit in the last kilometres. The last half-hour was really tough. I am glad that I survived and that I finished on the podium again. The third place was the highest possible today”, Van Aert said. “On the penultimate gravel section the pace was a bit too high for me and I had to let them go. It was still a long way to the finish, but I continued to pull and I didn’t give up. I was able to return to the front when we went on to the final climb, but I had already given too much to be able to attack. I am very happy with this third place. The feeling was good and it gives confidence for the upcoming classics. Strade Bianche is a great race and to be able to win here, everything has to fall into place. It is also a race in which the attackers get rewarded for their efforts. And attacking is exactly what I did. I will definitely come back here to try and battle for the win.”

Here's Lotto-Soudal's Strade Bianche report:

Lotto Soudal leaders Tiesj Benoot and Tim Wellens finished – after a strong ride – fifth and tenth, respectively, in the Strade Bianche today. Julian Alaphilippe took the win. The Frenchman beat – on the steep slopes towards the finish in Siena – the Danish rider Jakob Fuglsang and the Belgian Wout Van Aert.

Tiesj Bennot

Tiesj Benoot on the white roads. Sirotti photo

In a very sunny Tuscany, the peloton headed with a furious pace towards the first gravel section of the day. It took some time before an early break got the freedom but eventually, four riders managed to escape the peloton. As predicted beforehand, the race split apart on Monte Sante Marie, the eighth of thirteen gravel tracks. That way, an elite group of around fifteen riders – including Lotto Soudal leaders Tiesj Benoot and Tim Wellens – was created. When on Monteaperti – the ninth gravel section – Alaphilippe, Fuglsang and Van Aert accelerated, Tiesj Benoot and Tim Wellens were not able to bridge across. Moments later, the three leaders were reduced to two as Van Aert had to let go, but thanks to the tactical battle between Fuglsang and Alaphilippe, Van Aert could again join them just before the final climb to the Piazza del Campo. With an all-out attack, Alaphilippe secured his first Strade Bianche win, Fuglsang and Van Aert had to settle with second and third place, respectively. In the battle for fourth place, Tiesj Benoot only had to let go Štybar in front of him. Tim Wellens completed the top ten.

Tim Wellens: “We tried to the split the peloton several times during the race but eventually, I took the initiative myself which resulted in a group of fifteen riders at the front. That was a very good situation for us. When Fuglsang accelerated, I was too far back and I did not have the punch to still react. When three riders escape and they have with Lampaert, Štybar and Lutsenko still three teammates in the chasing group, it is an almost impossible task to still organize the chase. That way, we consistently lost time. In the end, the three escapees have proven to be the strongest today. Unfortunately, it was a battle for top ten for me.”

Tiesj Benoot: “It was a fast and dangerous race today. You are always in doubt after a crash like the one last week. But if you finish fifth, those doubts have now been taken away and that gives me high hopes for the coming weeks. Winning like I did last year is never easy. I was one of the strongest riders in the chasing group. If you battle against riders like Štybar, Van Avermaet and Lutsenko for fourth place, you can’t complain. But if you start the race to win, you are of course disappointed if you are not on the podium. During the decisive moment, I chose the wheel of Lutsenko – who was then riding at the front – because he seemed very strong. When they attacked, it was difficult to react. During the finale, I still tried something but with some riders not cooperating, that was not easy. Of course, you hope for a better result but I have to be satisfied with fifth place.”

Tosh Van der Sande had to abandon the race due to a crash. He has some abrasions but he is very likely to start in Tirreno – Adriatico next week.

And here's Bora-hansgrohe's report:

186 demanding kilometers around Siena with some challenging sectors on “white roads”, gravel roads, that’s Strade Bianche. Right from the gun the tempo was high as it was important to keep a good position before the first sector. Due to that high pace, it took over 30 km until a break of four was able to go clear from the bunch.  The situation remained unchanged until the last 100 kilometers, when the bunch accelerated on sector six, the longest of the graveled roads.

While Diego Rosa dropped his breakaway companions and soloed at the front, a crash occurred in the bunch and BORA – hansgrohe unfortunately lost two of their leaders in Daniel Oss and Gregor Mühlberger. A little later, only a small select group took up the chase behind Rosa. In this group Max Schachmann from BORA – hansgrohe showed superior form, pulling at the front several times. But unfortunately, he punctured not long afterwards, at a time when no support cars were behind his group, which cost him valuable seconds. After changing his wheel, he found himself in the second chasing group, while Rosa was caught by the front group. But Max kept going and attacked straight away from this second group and put in an excellent effort to bridge across a one-minute gap to the front. 

Diego Rosa

Diego Rosa hammering away, off the front. Sirotti photo

However, at the exact moment that he rejoined the leaders, the race exploded again and J. Fuglsang made the decisive move together with J. Alaphilippe. Due to this increase in pace, Schachmann lost contact again and had to chase by himself over the remaining 20 kilometers. After pushing at the limit for almost 40 kilometers, Max ran out of energy as he entered Siena and was finally overtaken by the second chasing group, ultimately finishing in 29th place. On the final climb in Siena, Alaphilippe once again showed his class to outsprint Fuglsang to take the victory.

From the Finish Line:
"I quite like this race and today everything went well, even on the gravel sections. My legs were amazing, but I punctured at the worst possible moment. I fought back afterwards, but hoped to rejoin the group a little earlier, to be able to take a breath before the next sector. However, that didn’t work out and I just caught them when we started the climb. I was really on the limit at that point, and also cramped up. The last 20 km were just painful, and I had no energy left. But the positive thing is that my form is really good. I think that I can look with confidence towards the next races.” – Maximilian Schachmann

"What can you do? Luck was really not on our side today. First, we lost Daniel and Gregor in a crash just before the decisive sector, then Max punctured when the support cars were still not allowed to pass the other chasing groups. He basically lost all his chances there after putting himself in such a promising position. However, he really showed fighting spirit, attacked again right away, and even managed to bridge across to the front again. That was really an impressive ride and I think everyone could see that we would have had the legs to fight for a podium today. The only good thing about today is that all our guys involved in that crash are ok.” – Steffen Radochla, Sport Director 

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