Tag Archives: Fabian Cancellara

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.


Chapeau Spartacus!!!


Dear Rouleurs,

I’ve been mesmerised by boring TV and Australia’s lack of cycling success at the Rio Olympics. Mind you the Brits came to play on the track and have shown both the Men’s and Women’s teams a thing or two. Alas Australian cycling fared no better in the either Men’s and Women’s road races or time trials. Rohan Dennis had the misfortune of his handle bars breaking in the time trial event and Richie Porte was lucky to be able to walk after his horrible down hill crash in the Men’s road race.

However, the rider that did stand up,  was Swizterland’s Fabian Cancellara, aka Spartacus.  Cancellara dominated the Men’s time tria,l for his second Olympic gold medal, on the wet roads of Rio de Janiero with a time of 1:12:15.42. Spartacus won his first gold medal back in 2008 at the Bejing Games. In his final year of competitive racing, the 35 year old turned back the clock and relegated red hot favourite the Netherland’s Tom Dumoulin (47 seconds behind) and this year’s Tour de France winner, Chris Froome (1:02 back) back into silver and bronze respectively.

left to right - Dumoulin, Cancellara and Froome, Men's Time Trial Rio 2016.

left to right – Dumoulin, Cancellara and Froome, Men’s Time Trial Rio 2016.

Spartacus looking the goods on a very sexy looking Trek TT bike.

Spartacus looking the goods on a very sexy looking Trek TT bike.

So to celebrate Spartacus’s big win, MMT is re-publishing (or more commonly known as stealing) an infographic, from a magazine called Titanien.  The beauty of this infographic, give the man’s success on cobbles in and around Belgium, its written in Flemish, which means MMT has absolutely no idea what it says, although an educated guess is ‘Fabian in Numbers’.


So until next time, ride safe.


Matt Hayman take a bow


Dear Rouleurs,

I’m sleep deprived but very excited.  It was a late night, watching the 2016 edition of the Paris-Roubaix and the race provided a thrilling finish that made the wait so worth while.  In an astonishing 5 man finish in the Roubaix Velodrome, Orica-GreenEdge’s Matt Hayman broke through for just his 3rd professional win and become the only Australian since Stuart O’Grady to win.  In case, you don’t know who Matt Hayman is, this is what he looks like.

 Matt Hayman beats Tom Boonen by half a wheel.

Matt Hayman beats Tom Boonen by half a wheel and celebrates in style.

2016 Paris-Roubaix Podium - Left to Right, Tom Boonen, Matt Hayman, Ian Standard

2016 Paris-Roubaix Podium – Left to Right, Tom Boonen, Matt Hayman, Ian Stannard.

Whilst the weather was kind, race conditions were still pretty tricky…ask Fabian Cancellara who slid sideways on the pave or Luke Rowe who dived over the handle bars after he tried to bunny hop a fallen team mate or Luke Durbridge who was on the receiving end of an untimely puncture.  The hospital casualty list included:

  • Sky’s Elia Viviani was hit by a motorcycle after a crash held up the peloton in Arenberg.
  • Mitchell Docker of Orica-GreenEdge,  suffering from severe craniofacial and dental trauma, with multiple face wounds.
  • Etixx – Quick-Step’s Niki Terpstra,  sustained a knee injury that forced him out of the race.
  • Others included Nikolas Maes [Etixx – Quick-Step] , Nelson Oliveira and Francisco Ventoso of Movistar and Lampre – Merida’s Federico Zurlo.

However, what became clear at around the 60Km mark was that Tom Boonen was in the right place to win and that Cancellara and Peter Sagan were not. I reckon Cancellara’s fall at the 30Km mark on pave was contributed significantly by the knowledge that he had missed the key breakaway group.

However, that doesn’t take anything away from Orica-GreenEdge’s Matt Hayman, who at the ripe old age of 37 years old, competing in his 15th ‘Hell of the North”, outfoxed and out spirited a quality group including Tom Boonen [Etixx-Quick Step] , Ian Stannard [Team Sky], Sep Vanmarck [Team Lotto NL] and  Edvald Boasson Hagen [DImension Data].  The win made all the more incredible, by his rapid recovery from a fractured radius and limited racing.

I can’t wait for the next instalment of the Classics.