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by Mark Zalewski
March 3, 2017
In today’s CyclingTips Daily News Digest: What is the Hammer Series? Digging deeper into the races that could change cycling; Preview: Women’s WorldTour kicks off on the gravel roads of the Strade Bianche this weekend; Fourth stage of the La Tropicale Amissa Bongo cancelled; British Cycling to rethink relationship with Team Sky; Wiggins refuses to talk to media over UKAD investigation; Belgian race organisers focus on preventing sidewalk riding; Stybar ready for Strade Bianche; Woet Poels will not start Paris-Nice due to knee problem; Final teams announced for Amstel Gold Race; Sporza fails to secure rights for Italian races; Colorado Classic to add entertainment component for financial stability; Video: Final kilometres of Le Samyn; The Peak District Journey.
Quick Step Floors’ Zdenek Stybar, the 2015 winner of Strade Bianche and last year’s runner-up, is definitely a favourite for Sunday’s race. Even though last year’s winner Fabian Cancellara has retired he will have his work cut out for him, with world champ Peter Sagan (Bora-hansgrohe) and Olympic champ Greg van Avermaet (BMC).
“The competitors will be the same as last weekend,” Stybar said in an interview with Sporza. “So I think van Avermaet and Sagan. And I expect [Tiesj] Benoot and Tim Wellens on the outside.”
Stybar will have help with Italian Gianluca Brambilla who finished third last year.
“Of course I would like to repeat my victory from 2015. The Strade Bianche is one of the best races of the season, not because I have already won it, but becasue the setting is so beautiful — the white roads and the arrival in Siena, that is something special.”
The race features 62 kilometres of the iconic dirt roads over 11 segments, the last of which, Le Tolfe, comes inside the final three kilometers. Then the race climbs into Siena with the final kilometre max gradient of 18%, just 500 metres from the finish in the Via Santa Caterina.