Category Archives: Monuments

Ode to the Strade Bianche not being streamed by SBS…grumble

Dear Rouleurs,

As a cycling tragic, its MMT’s favourite time of year, the brief lull in UCI calendar before all the spring time Monuments and one classics start.  MMT figures that these races are most like the sportive and charity rides he does, so there’s a bit to simpatico.  Also the riders tend to win these races are of the bigger variety, as opposed to the 50-55Kg jockeys that tend to dominate the mountain and general classifications.MMT is particularly enarmoured with the  Strade Bianche due to start on the 3rd March 2018.  Unfortunately SBS aren’t covering this modern day gem (…or for that matter the Giro..WTF!!!)

The Eroica Strade Bianche (“Heroic race of the gravel roads”) was created in 1997 as a granfondo, a recreational bike race for vintage bikes only, on the white gravel roads around Siena, an event that is still held annually the day after the professional race. In 2007, a professional race was spun off the event, inaugurally called Monte Paschi Eroica, won by Russian Alexandr Kolobnev. The race was held on 9 October; it started in Gaiole in Chianti and finished in Siena. Organizer RCS asked local cycling icons Fiorenzo Magni and Paolo Bettini to promote the maiden event.[8] Monte dei Paschi, the world’s oldest still-existing bank with its headquarters in Siena, served as the race’s title sponsor for the first four years. In 2008, the race was moved to early March on the calendar, closer to the heart of the spring classics season. At this point, professional cycling teams started competing more seriously.

There are roughly 63km of gravel roads, appearing in 11 sectors (eight of those shared with the Women Elite course). For the men that’s approximately 1/3 of the course.

Strade Bianche course for 2018

There are some nasty, nasty hills in this race ranging from 6% to 18%. But what makes it really special is the final 4 kilometres approaching the city centre of Siena.

Up, down, up down…looks like hard work.

Here’s a description pilfered from event’s web site.

“The demanding final kilometres, with gradients up to 16%, approach the city of Siena along broad, straight sections of road, connected by sweeping curves, first descending, and then climbing slightly. 2km from the finish line, the route joins Via Esterna di Fontebranda, where the gradient touches 9%. 900m from the finish line, the race route passes beneath Fontebranda Gate where the road surface becomes paving slabs. The gradient exceeds 10% until 500m from the finish line, reaching its highpoint of 16% in Via Santa Caterina. A sharp right hand turn leads to Via delle Terme, and then Via Banchi di Sotto. With 300m to go, the road continues to climb slightly then, 150m from the line, a right turn leads into Via Rinaldini. The route enters the Piazza del Campo just 70m from the finish line. The final 30m descends at a gradient of 7% and the finish line itself is flat.”

So this what the final 4km route through Siena, ending at Piazza del Campo.

WTF, that’s a really nasty finish.

Man that’s seriously leg burning and after 180km or so…ouch The other thing about the race, is that professional’s seem to take it very seriously.

  • The Palmares of the last ten years include:
  • Fabian Cancellara (3 wins),
  • Michał Kwiatkowski (2 wins), and
  • Philippe Gilbert, Zdeněk Štybar (1 win each)

and then a raft of minor placings to stars of the sport like:

  • Peter Sagan,
  • Greg Van Avermaet, and
  • Alejandro Valverde.

Australia’s own Michael Rogers finished 3rd in 2010 and is to this day the only Australian to make the podium. Luke Durbridge of Orica Greenedge/Scott/Bike Exchange/Mitchelton, finished 6th last year (2017). Cancellara has the most difficult section of strade named after him, following his third win in 2016. The 11.4km, 5 star section is 54km from the finish line and was previously known as ‘Monte Sante Marie Settore’

So speaking of the great man and Siena here’s a few pilfered happy snaps.

Whoa…how beautiful is this piazza?

The piazza from above. Spectacular!!!

Proof that the organisers named a strade section after Cancellara.

Cancellara winning the Strade Bianche for the first time.

OK that’s enough skiving off at work. Hopefully I can shake off this damn throat virus and go for a ride tomorrow morning. The weather outside looks awesome.

Until next time, ride safe.

MMT

Marv is back from holidays

Dear Rouleurs,

MMT is back  online after well earned 4 week holiday and has number of interesting stories and pictures to share. The three highlights being:

  • Meeting the grandson of  Enrique Otero, who in 1927 established the first bicycle shop in Madrid.  Unfortunately, they don’t make frames anymore.  They had a fabulous collection of old bikes. You can find them at https://www.facebook.com/otero.bicicletas/
  • Driving up Mont Ventoux in Provence, France.
  • Checking out some very cool bike shops in London and spending way too much money.

Finally, a big ‘chapeau’ to Esteban Chaves of Orica-GreenEDGE who finished 8th in the 2015 Giro di Lombardia, a slender 56 seconds behind the winner, Vincenzo ‘I won’t cheat this time’ Nibali.

Surely it must be time make Chaves an Australian citizen.

More later this month.

Marv

The lost art of team time trial or how Orica-GreenEdge won Stage 1 of Giro D’Italia 2015

Dear Roulers,

I have to say how much I’ve enjoyed the SBS coverage of the spring classic one day races. Clearly the standout performer this year has been this man, Alejandro Valvarde.

The Spaniard wins so many races that his exploits in the Ardennes sometimes go a bit unnoticed, but he fully lived up to his status as the favourite in all the races in 2015.

The Movistar rider just missed out on the Ardennes clean sweep, pipped on the line by Etixx-Quick-Step’s Michal Kwiatkowski in the Amstel Gold Race. But that minor blip on the palmares was recovered a few days later when he won Flèche Wallonne. Keep in mind that he’s the same age, 35, as the soon to be retired Bradley Wiggins.

However, the Giro d’Italia is now underway and again its Orica-GreenEdge giving other teams a lesson in how to do team time trials.  The Orica-GreenEdge covered the 17.6km course in 19 minutes and 26 seconds (54.3km/h average), seven seconds ahead of Tinkoff-Saxo and another six seconds faster than Astana.  That’s about 25km/h faster than I can manage along Beach Road.20150509-OricaGreenEdge-ChainGang-B

 

 

 

 

 

 

At the intermediate time check, 9.9km into the stage, the Orica-GreenEdge squad lead Astana by eight seconds. Much of the damage had been done by three of the team’s time trial specialists Luke Durbridge, Brett Lancaster and Michael Hepburn.  I have to say I really felt for the team’s specialist climber Esteban Chaves, who looked like a 12 year old, tailing behind the bigger Australians.  At 55kg, Chaves is 25kg lighter than the other guys and looked to be hanging on to the last wheel as if his life depended on it.

You have to wonder how practice these other teams put into the discipline of chain gangs and riding team races.  Most teams seemed to have formations that were at best untidy at worst disjointed. Mind you it helps it have Olympic team pursuit medalists in the team.Simon Gerrans Stage 1 Winner Giro 2015

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Nevertheless last night was a great win for Simon Gerrans who has been beset by bad luck and injury for the last 12 months.  The final results for stage 1 were:

Stage 1: 17.6km team time trial, San Lorenzo al Mare – San Remo
1 Orica-GreenEDGE 19min 26sec
2 Tinkoff-Saxo 0:00:07
3 Astana 0:00:13
4 Etixx-Quick-Step 0:00:19
5 Movistar 0:00:21
6 IAM Cycling 0:00:25
7 BMC Racing
8 Sky 0:00:27
9 Trek Factory Racing 0:00:29
10 Lotto Soudal 0:00:31

Tonight’s stage in the  Giro d’Italia is a 177km stage from Albenga to Genoa which has only one small classified climb and which will almost certainly end in a bunch sprint.  I reckon Simon might be turning up for a second maglia rosa later tonight.

See you on the road

Marv