Great effort by Movistar Team leader in instant-classic Strade Bianche, with wet gravel due to rain and snow over Tuscany this week turning the race into epic journey. Benoot (LTS) wins.
Belgian Tiesj Benoot (LTS) opened his pro victory account on Saturday at the 12th edition of Strade Bianche (UCI WorldTour, 184km), a race that will go down as one to remember for many years because of the mud completely covering all riders, due to the rain and snow falling over the province of Siena in the week leading up to the event.
Alejandro Valverde took 4th place, 1’25” behind the day’s winner, in another magnificent display of strength, just six days after winning the Abu Dhabi Tour and following an eventful journey to Italy: the Spaniard was stranded in Barcelona until late on Friday evening, due to overbooking, and was unable to reach the Movistar Team hotel until almost midnight. ‘Bala’ had support in the finale from José Joaquín Rojas, who joined him into the dangerous moves created 60km from the finish -until suffering himself a costly mechanical-, and Andrey Amador, who followed some moves ahead of the favourites’ group before the decisive, final three ‘sterrato’ sections.
Valverde and other big names, such as Peter Sagan (BOH) or Michal Kwiatkowski (SKY), were nevertheless anticipated by Wout Van Aert (VWC) and Romain Bardet (ALM), who opened a serious gap in front of the lack of cooperation behind, and got to the finish with almost one minute over the second chasing group. Alejandro always tried to make the race harder and made up much terrain in the finale, together with Zdenek Stybar (QST), to bring back many groups until coming just short of a podium finish.
Pictures (c): BettiniPhoto.net