Wout van Aert triumphs in dusty Strade Bianche

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Wout van Aert has won the Strade Bianche. The Jumbo-Visma rider arrived in Siena after a 180 kilometer race. The Fleming had attacked on the last sector of the day, after which no one could keep him from winning. Davide Formolo came in second, Maximilian Schachmann third.

Then finally the Strade Bianche was ridden. The cycling enthusiast has had to wait five months. In this five month they still saw Primož Roglič become Slovenian champion and Gregor Mühlberger dominate in the Făgăraș Mountains, but they had not seen a really important match.

In the Strade Bianche, the best riders in the world were able to fight the weather for the first time. Most riders were even without a racing rhythm and so it became a great discovery when the starting signal was fired in Siena at 1.45 p.m.

Leading group with Van Kessel and Declercq
Six riders went out quickly after the starting shot. Benjamin Declercq, Corné van Kessel, Nicola Bagioli, Simon Pellaud, Quentin Pacher and Iuri Filosi were the riders who could call themselves the early race. They drove a lead of more than two minutes together, but not long after Astana took control.

Bad luck for some favorites
Before that, a few incidents had already occurred with the favorites. Julian Alaphilippe suffered a mechanical defect, Vincenzo Nibali and Peter Sagan had a flat tire. All managed to quickly return to the peloton led by Astana.

Pellaud continues alone
The leading group did fall victim to the pace of the Kazakh WorldTour formation. After more than an hour of racing, it exploded. The Swiss Pellaud turned out to be the strongest of the six. He continued his competition solo.

Van der Poel and Alaphilippe show themselves
The lonely refugee did well. Pellaud extended his lead to almost four minutes, but in the last hundred kilometers his lead narrowed. Especially after Julian Alaphilippe and Mathieu van der Poel dropped a bomb eighty kilometers from the finish. The two never got away, but the first warning shot was fired.

Craddock, Jungels and Burghardt join Pellaud
Three other riders then drove away. Lawson Craddock, Bob Jungels and Marcus Burghardt quickly picked up Pellaud, after which they tried to build a lead on the peloton, which was not very big anymore.

Van der Poel involved in crash
At the time, a crash was reported in the peloton with Alaphilippe, Van der Poel and Nibali. They could continue their way again and join the peloton, where the lead of the four leaders had disappeared like snow in the sun.

Clarke and Fuglsang open finals
The final could then really start on the way to the eighth sector of the day, the Monte Sante Marie. Simon Clarke tried it in this sector almost immediately. Michael Gogl, Gorka Izagirre and Burghardt again tried to follow, but they were quickly countered by Jakob Fuglsang. The Dane gave a hard blow and drove away with 55 kilometers to go.

The leading group – photo: Cor Vos

Chaff is separated from the wheat
Among the pursuers, Maximilian Schachmann, Davide Formolo, Michal Kwiatkowski, Alberto Bettiol, Greg Van Avermaet and Wout van Aert were clearly visible. Van der Poel and Alaphilippe were not. They failed to play a significant role on Saturday.

Fug hose taken back, six riders remain
In the last fifty kilometers, Fuglsang failed to build his lead on a newly created group of pursuers with Bettiol, Formolo, Van Avermaet, Van Aert and Schachmann. In fact, the Dane was caught by the pursuers with 42 kilometers to go. A major truce followed. The six leaders knew that one of them would win.

Schachmann and Van Aert try it
The next attempt was then credited to Schachmann. The German got Van Aert with him with 22 kilometers to go. Bettiol, Formolo and Fuglsang managed to make the connection, but for Van Avermaet the lights went out. With twenty kilometers to go, five riders remained.

Van Aert tries it – photo: Cor Vos

Van Aert drives away
The Colle Pinzuto and Le Tolfe then remained as the penultimate and last sector. On the Colle Pinzuto, Bettiol made a brave attempt, but the leading group still remained intact. Van Aert subsequently had more success in the latter sector. The Jumbo-Visma rider took a small lead in the descent, after which he continued firmly. The curtain fell in the meantime for Fuglsang.

Victory for Van Aert
Van Aert continued to accelerate. Behind that, Bettiol, Formolo and Schachmann kept the Flemings in their sights. Van Aert did not lead to Bettiol, Formolo and Schachmann, but the pursuers did not get any closer. With a lead of twenty seconds, the leader then started the final kilometer.

In the final kilometer, Van Aert’s victory was no longer endangered. In Siena, the Fleming was finally allowed to make the victory, after having finished third twice in previous editions. Behind Van Aert, Formolo and Schachmann finished second and third.

Van Aert with the win – photo: Cor Vos



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