Merino (25th), Erić, Teruel able to complete brutal Strade Bianche
01 August 2020

Strade Bianche

Movistar Team trio, wearing the various components of the Charity Jersey, finish in Siena as World Champion Van Vleuten (MTS) surges from the field to take another win.

/ Today’s route

It’s a 184-kilometer race for the men and a 136km course for the women, with sterrato (white gravel road) sections longer in the first half of the race and a more demanding profile in the second, shared between both events. Three intricate final sectors -Vico d’Arbia, Colle Pinzuto and Le Tolfe- lead to a brutal finish up Via Santa Caterina (16% max.) before the entry to the world-famous Piazza del Campo.

The women’s Movistar Team at the start.

/ Weather report

It’s a heat wave in Tuscany. From the snow in 2018 and the mild temperatures in 2019, to the 37ºC maximum temperature in a very special race, never held in the summer before. The later schedule, with both events entirely in the afternoon, makes for an even warmer scenario.

/ Keys to the race

  • The most important one: the Charity Jersey. A kit to be put up for auction next week (August 3-7), signed by the riders, and whose proceeds will go to the Spanish Red Cross and Italy’s Protezione Civile. A design praised by most fans and crafted by Italian artist Loris Gobbi.
Davide Villella at the one of the early sections. (c) BettiniPhoto
  • The women’s race split into pieces far away from the finish, with barely 40 riders making it through the first selection at the ‘sterrato’ sector no. 2 (of eight), including Alba Teruel, Jelena Erić and Eider Merino from the Movistar Team. At that point in the race, four of the Blues have already suffered mechanical setbacks, in an incredibly difficult start: Alicia González -soon out of contention- and the above-mentioned Teruel, Merino and Erić -no less than three bike changes for the Serbian-.
  • The sector 5, about 50 kilometers from the end, again shrunk the field, with just 11 riders at the front and Merino as first of the Blues, inside a pursuit group which wasn’t, unfortunately, able to bridge back. The huge suffering even made Merino consider dropping out of the race.
  • Once again unstoppable, Annemiek van Vleuten (MTS) bounced back brilliantly after missing that 11-woman split. The World Champion reached down a great Mavi García (ALE), who spent a long stretch of the race solo at the front and took 2nd, behind Van Vleuten and ahead of Leah Thomas (EPK, 3rd). The Movistar Team saw Merino -25th, 8’28” behind-, Erić and Teruel finish, the latter two outside the time limit.
Merino at the finish. (c) Movistar Team
  • At the men’s race, none of the Movistar Team riders was able to finish a hellish race, as Dario Cataldo -the rider reaching further, alongside Davide Villella- explained on an Instagram post: “A crash early on and a puncture right at the start of an 11km sector“, the Monte Sante Marie, which took him out of the race. Quite the same happened to Johan Jacobs, with two flat tires. The day’s podium: Wout Van Aert (TJV, 1st), Davide Formolo (UAD, 2nd), Max Schachmann (BOH, 3rd).

/ Upcoming goals

Most of the men will stay in Italy to race the Grande Trittico Lombardo (Monday 3rd), Milano-Torino (Wednesday 5th) and Milano-Sanremo (Saturday 8th). The women, in turn, will travel to the Pyrenees to cover an altitude training block, and will return on Sunday 15th for the French event La Périgord.

Cover picture (c): Velofocus