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2015 champion Zdenek Stybar will be one of the three former winners to line up for Saturday’s Strade Bianche.
As the Italian one-day race enters in its second decade of existence, it’s also preparing for its World Tour debut, one which will see 21 teams and 168 riders come at the start. The 175km-long parcours will see the peloton depart from Siena, near the Fortezza Medicea, and finish in the iconic Piazza Il Campo, the heart of the charming Tuscan city, declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1995.
The 11th edition of the always spectacular Strade Bianche features 62 kilometers of dirt roads over 11 segments, the last of which (Le Tolfe) comes inside the final three kilometers, but that won’t be the last hurdle of the day, as the final kilometer kicks up to 18%, just 500 meters before the line, on the Via Santa Caterina, and can act as a launch pad for those who still have something left in the legs and want to go solo.
One of the eight riders to win Strade Bianche since its inception, Zdenek Stybar will once again headline Quick-Step Floors’ squad for the first World Tour race of March, where he’ll be joined by Gianluca Brambilla, whose breakthrough ride last year on the pittoresque gravel roads of Tuscany saw him finish third.
Also making the Belgian team are Bob Jungels, Davide Martinelli, Maximiliano Richeze, Matteo Trentin, Petr Vakoč and Julien Vermote.
“Two new dirt climbs have been added to the parcours in the first part, but other than that, once we’ll go through the feed zone, the route will be quite similar to the one of last year”, said sport director Davide Bramati. “Strade Bianche remains that great race which riders and fans have become very fond of, a race in which we were always at the front in the past years, twice as winners, in 2014 and 2015, and with two riders on the podium at the previous edition. We are going there with a strong team, comprising many good riders, and we want to get a nice result against the star-studded field of this first World Tour edition.”