Will it be BMC time?
What's that I hear? That's my Italian heart beating a mile a minute because this Saturday is the glorious, tifosi loving ( I feel I belong to that tribe because I ride an Italian bike), Montepaschi Strade Bianche.
It may be the only Italian professional race with roots from an amateur race; the l'Eroica gran fondo where people ride steel bikes 1987 (toe straps please) and earlier and wear very cool retro wool jerseys.
The riders have plenty of grinta for this war on Italian sterrati roads (8 bone shaking gravel sections of white gravel road worth) of the Tuscany wine region. This will be the 6th edition but it already feels like it's been around for ages, almost as long as Italian racing. One of the races that I enjoy watching because it's epic. The 57km of strade bianche when dry covers the riders and bikes like a baptism of dust. When it's wet, like in the epic Giro 2010 stage where Cadel Evans caked in mud from the strade bianche went through glorious suffering to win.
There will be many who are capable to suffer over the narrow, dusty roads and sharp climbs that will look heavenward if they survive. The mighty BMC squad will be there led by favorite Gilbert with enough firepower, (Ballan and Van Avermaet) to scare the hell out of the sterrati. There are others to challenge: Hesjedal, Sagan, Visconti, Nibali, Cancellara, Pozzato and Kreuziger. I'm happy to see the Colombia-Coldeportes team invited.
If an Italian wins, then it would be the first and there will joyous rapture from the tifosi and from above. But first, there is 190km to contend with.
A unique Italian race is approaching... my heart is already pounding with anticipation!