Tag Archives: Alejandro Valverde

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.


Final wrap up of the Tour De France 2015


Dear Roulers,

I’ve recovered, from a 3 week TDF2015 sleep deficit and some flu that’s going round at work, sufficiently to write my first blog for August 2015.

The final mountain stage #20 of the TDF 2015 an absolute cracker, as the promised show down between the GC contenders on the iconic climb of Alpe d’Huez actually happened.  The talk matched the walk…er…ride.  The one-two move of Movistar’s Alejandro  Valverde and Nairo Quintana very nearly broke the Sky Train and Chris Froom’s grip on the Jeune Malliot. When the heat was on Sky rallied behind their leader.  Richie Porte and Wouter Poels should take a big bow for dragging Froome up the final 10km of Alpe d’Huez and onto the podium in Paris.

The short but brutal stage #20 must have seemed interminable to the riders as they struggled their way up the final climb. The crowds on Alpe d’Huez were as large as ever – some say one million fans lined the roads – but despite concerns over out-of-control spectators causing bother, trouble did not really materialise.  I sure French fans would have taken some heart from the fine stage win by the French FDJ rider Thibaut Pinot.

So here’s another couple of pilfered photos of GC and Jersey for the TDF 2015 podium.


Left to Right: Quintana, Froome, Valverde


Left to Right: Sagan, Froome, Quintana

The winners of the Jerseys and Awards were:

 Yellow Jersey  FROOME, Christopher  31  TEAM SKY  84:46:14
 Green Jersey  SAGAN, Peter  47  TINKOFF-SAXO  432 points
 Polka-Dot Jersey  FROOME, Christopher  31  TEAM SKY  119 points
 White Jersey  QUINTANA ROJAS, Nairo Alexander  51  MOVISTAR  84:47:26
 Most Combative BARDET, Romain  12  AG2R LA MONDIALE  85:02:14
 Team  MOVISTAR  Total Time  255:24:24

Here’s the top 10 finishers in the GC

 1.  FROOME, Christopher  31  TEAM SKY  84:46:14
 2.  QUINTANA ROJAS, Nairo Alexander  51  MOVISTAR  84:47:26 + 1:12
 3.  VALVERDE BELMONTE, Alejandro  59  MOVISTAR  84:51:39  + 5:25
 4.  NIBALI, Vincenzo  1  ASTANA  84:54:39  + 8:36
 5.  CONTADOR VELASCO, Alberto  41  TINKOFF – SAXO  84:56:02  + 9:48
 6.  GESINK, Robert  131  LOTTO NL – JUMBO  84:57:01  + 10:47
 7.  MOLLEMA, Bauke  141  TREK FACTORY RACING  85:01:28  + 15:14
 8.  FRANK, Mathias  181  IAM CYCLING  85:01:53  + 15:39
 9.  BARDET, Romain  12  AG2R LA MONDIALE  85:02:14  + 16:00
 10.  ROLLAND, Pierre  121  EUROPCAR  85:03:44  + 17:30

Here’s where the Australians finished:

 36.  ROGERS Michael  46  TINKOFF-SAXO  86:42:27: + 01:56′:13
 48.  PORTE Richie  35  TEAM SKY  87:02:19 + 02:16:05
 101.  DENNIS Rohan  63  BMC RACING TEAM  88:13:48 + 03:27:34
 114.  HANSEN Adam  76  LOTTO-SOUDAL  89:12:47 + 04:26:33
 151.  DURBRIDGE Luke  103  ORICA GREENEDGE  89:11:17 + 04:25:03
 152.  MATTHEWS Michael  105  ORICA GREENEDGE  89:12:47 + 04:26:33

This is who retired:

 195  DEMPSTER Zakkari  BORA-ARGON 18  Stage 12 – DNF
 115  RENSHAW Mark  ETIXX-QUICK STEP  Stage 18 – DNF

And in addition from Orica GreenEdge:

 104  IMPEY Daryl  Stage 4 – DNS
 102  ALBASINI Michael  Stage 6 – DNS

So before signing off, congratulations should be given to Adam Hansen who finished his 12th consecutive grand tour, despite dislocating his shoulder back in stage 2. Dear God the man feels no pain.

Now bring on La Vueleta, viva l’espana 🙂