Strade Bianche, white roads.
This Saturday marks the 3rd edition of the Monte Paschi Strade Bianche Eroica Toscana. Also called the Italian Roubaix and rightly so. One hundred and ninety kilometers long over age old strade bianche or 'white roads', around the Chianti wine rich region of Tuscany. The rough roads are a big part of this innovative race full of uneven, pot holed riddled, gravel strewn path ways likened to a mountain bike race. I think the Italians got this one right comparing it closely to Paris-Roubaix. We haven't witness the extreme weather conditions yet, but, the Chianti mountains are known to have severe weather. Lets hope!
Although being a newcomer to the cycling scene, this race is starting to look like a classic. In 2007, Alexandr Kolobnev(CSC) won the first edition and last year, Fabian Cancellara(CSC) made it two straight. Could an Italian win it, next? I had a look at the starting list and it really brings in the tough rider of the classics. My sentimental favorite goes to George Hincapie(Team Columbia-Highroad). Italian tough classic rider, Alessandro Ballan(Lampre) could win it for the home crowd.
The Canadian dark horses...
And what would a race be without dark horses? Three Canadians have a good chance: Svein Tuft(Garmin), Ryder Hesjedal(Garmin) & Dominique Rollin(Cervelo). Last year, Hesjedal led part of the race and looked promising ending up in a marvelous tenth place. Tuft and Rollin are just the riders to do well in this Italian hell.
Not quite a classic, this race already has an Italian Roubaix flair going for it...
And I'm liking that!
The dusty Italian hell...
Looking like a eerie lunar landscape.