I’m excited. The chalky, white dusty Tuscan roads return tomorrow with Strade Bianche. It's hard to believe that this classic race has been around for only 13 years, it seems longer. The idyllic
Tuscan countryside and the old world charm of medieval Siena is timelessly breathtaking. It has earned itself WorldTour status in 2016, rightly so. This will be the sixth edition of the women's WorldTour race taking place before the men's race. Weather will be hot around 37C making the white gravel hilly roads even dustier on the roughly 63km (11 sectors) of the race.

Can the 14th edition be lucky for the home nation? Moreno Moser gave the faithful tifosi a win back in 2013. Will Tuscan-born classic star Alberto Bettiol send the home region fans into a state of frenzy?

“Strade Bianche is a cursed race for me, it runs in my region and anticipation will be high. An Italian victory in the men’s and women’s races would be a nice dream to achieve. It is Italy that is kicking off this new cycling...  all the spotlights will be on us and a double victory, since we have good riders, it would look great. Mine is obviously a hope, and it’s nice to be able to hope.” 
- Alberto Bettiol, EF Pro Cycling.

If he falls short, I’m adding another dark horse into my prediction. His EF Pro Cycling teammate Michael Woods, who surely will like the steep climbs, will make his debut in Saturdays ‘sixth monument.’ A victory is a cause for a... celebrazione!