The long countdown is finally about to end on Saturday 1st August 2020 when the UCI WorldTour and UCI Women’s WorldTour will officially restart with Strade Bianche, one of the most fascinating races of both series. Known as “Europe’s most southern northern Classic”, Strade Bianche will offer a mouth-watering menu with its iconic white roads through the gorgeous Tuscan hills leading to the breathtaking uphill finish in Siena’s Piazza del Campo.
2020’s summer and autumn will be packed with emotions thanks to an intense calendar after months of inactivity due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. During spring the riders kept fit thanks to indoor training and numerous virtual competitions, but the time has finally come to put the numbers on the back of their jerseys and jump out of the virtual world and into the real action.
Strade Bianche’s demanding course
Cycling fans can’t wait to once more watch the battles between the world’s best men and women in the most famous races and there’s no doubt that Strade Bianche will be a perfect appetizer for the succulent incoming season, with its unique mix of wonderful landscapes and a very demanding course. The iconic images of groups of riders in long lines, followed by a dusty white trail up and down Tuscan hills are the perfect picture of Strade Bianche. The UCI Women’s WorldTour race will include eight gravel sectors totaling 31.4km within a race distance of 136km. The Men’s race will feature three more sectors for a total of 60km spread along the 184km route among the characteristic villages of the countryside around Siena – where the competition starts, in Fortezza Medicea, and finishes, in Piazza del Campo after the steep climb of Via Santa Caterina.
Those famous white roads are the race’s true protagonists. The 4th sector, named "La Piana", has been featured every year since the first edition of the men’s race while the Monte Sante Marie in Asciano, the 8th, is one of the toughest sectors. It's dedicated to the first – and so far, only – rider to have won the Strade Bianche three times (2008, 2012 and 2016), Fabian Cancellara. The last part of the race is extremely challenging: the 10th and penultimate sector features the steep climb of Colle Pinzuto with gradients up to 15%. The last gravel section includes a sequence of tricky descents and a very punchy climb (with a maximum gradient of 18%) until the top of Le Tolfe, with just 12km to go.
The race will be a challenge of nerves and strategy, with the unknowns of the inevitable punctures and mechanical problems that can occur at any time on such a tough track likely to be compounded by the typically high temperatures of August in Italy.
The current champions are the Netherlands’ Annemiek van Vleuten (Mitchelton-Scott) and Frenchman Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck - Quick-Step). The Dutch woman broke clear from the lead group on the last gravel sector of Le Tolfe, arriving solo in Piazza del Campo ahead of Danish mountain bike specialist Annika Langvad and Poland’s Katarzyna Niewiadoma (Canyon // SRAM Racing). The Frenchman won at his first attempt, anticipating in the final climb with Denmark’s Jakob Fuglsang (Astana Pro Team) settling for second. Belgian Wout van Aert (Team Jumbo-Visma), who was part of the breakaway trio but lost contact in the last 20km, finished third.
The undulating and twisty Strade Bianche course offers no time to relax. It’s designed to demand the best of the riders and provide a spectacular show for the worldwide audience, but of course it places safety as a major priority. The organisers of this and all the other races with paved sectors, follow the updated UCI Regulations which require them to provide all the technical information about each unpaved sector, ensuring that the support vehicles are suitable for unpaved sections and that their drivers have the necessary skills.
A summer full of emotions and iconic races
After Strade Bianche, August will offer an incredible sequence of UCI WorldTour races starting with the Tour de Pologne (5-9), then Milano-Sanremo (8th), the Critérium du Dauphiné (12-16), Il Lombardia (15th), Bretagne Classic Ouest-France (25th), then the Tour de France starting on 29th August and concluding in Paris on 20th September.
Meanwhile the UCI Women’s WorldTour peloton will move from the Strade Bianche to GP de Plouay - Lorient Agglomération Trophée WNT (25th August) and La Course by Le Tour de France (29th August).
The resumption of cycling competitions will mean following specific operational and medical measures which are set out in the protocols implemented by the UCI.
Here is an up-to-date list (by discipline) of postponed or cancelled events on the UCI International Calendar.