The fifth World Tour appointment of the calendar in 2019, Strade Bianche will see the peloton set out on Saturday morning from Siena and head into the charming countryside for a 184km-long twisty and undulating route that includes 11 gravel sectors.
After leaving all the sterrate segments behind, the riders will have to overcome one final hurdle, the steep urban climb pitching up to 16% on the Via Santa Caterina, which will take them to the shell-shaped Piazza del Campo, one of Europe’s greatest medieval squares, renowned for hosting the Palio since the Middle Ages.
Having amassed a hat-trick of wins so far this year in the southern hemisphere, Julian Alaphilippe is ready to make his first outing of the season in Europe, at an event he has never raced before.
“I am very happy with the way my season started, with three victories in Argentina and Colombia. My condition is good and I can’t wait to be in action in Italy. It will be my first time in Strade Bianche, a race I have always followed on TV, and at the start of which I am glad I will be this year. The motivation and moral are there and I hope it will turn out to be a good race for me.”
Victorious in Siena four years ago, Zdenek Stybar has always finished in the top 10 at Strade Bianche, and the experienced Czech, now an Omloop Het Nieuwsblad champion, will look to be again in the mix, part of a strong Deceuninck – Quick-Step team which will include also Eros Capecchi, Dries Devenyns, Yves Lampaert, Pieter Serry and Petr Vakoč.
“It’s our first outing of the season in Italy, a race which has grown in stature and has become everyone’s favourite. We won here twice and are motivated to be again in contention. If you look over the team, you can see how solid it is, with many riders capable of making the difference and being there in the key moments of the race. Following last week’s results, we carry a bulletproof confidence into the race and hope to do well again”, said sports director Davide Bramati.