Given favorable weather, there isn’t a more beautiful race in the world than Strade Bianche. The white dirt roads, the quaint Italian towns and villas, and the stunning finish line in the ancient city of Siena.
And when it rains, the race transforms into a beautifully brutal race of attrition. There’s simply nothing like it on the pro racing calendar, and the 2022 Strade Bianche looks posed to offer up one of the best editions of the race yet.
2022 Strade Bianche Favorites
Tiesj Benoot is my favorite for the race tomorrow. He showed stellar form last weekend at Omloop and Kuurne Brussels Kuurne. He brings an insanely talented support crew, with Tobias Foss and Robert Gesink posed to be immensely powerful helpers in setting up him up for a win.
In the absence of Mathieu van der Poel, who misses the race he won in 2021, out with his lingering back injury, this could be the year Tadej Pogacar could finally crack the podium at Strade Bianchi. The two-time Tour de France winner rarely is considered an underdog, but he’s yet to finish on the podium in Siena, with his best finish coming in 2021 in 7th.
Julian Alaphalippe can’t be counted out at any race, particularly one with a buzzsaw profile, which is the case at Strade. He’ll rely on a star-studded Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl team to control the race early, before launching a long-distance attack to draw out the race favorites. That’s what will happen. Just watch.
The race has started to attracted GC riders in recent years, a change that Classics specialists like Greg van Avermaet haven’t welcomed with the same enthusiasm as cycling fans.
Women’s racing tends to be a wide-open and unpredictable affair in most one-day races, but that’s turned up to eleven at Strade. With Kasia Niewiadoma on the line, the attacking is sure to be relentless for the entire race. She’ll be backed by Tiffany Cromwell, Hannah Barnes, and Mikayla Harvey in Canyon-SRAM’s bid for the win.
Elisa Longo Borghini would love to take a second win at Strade, with the Italian rider last winning in Siena in 2017. Her Trek-Segafredo team has the perfect foil to help her achieve that goal in the form of World TT Champ Ellen van Dijk. Audrey Cordon Ragot also brings a strong option to compete for the win or help Longo Borghini take the top step in Siena.
Chantal Blaak and Demi Vollering are my favorites on the All-Star team of favorites that is SD Works. Blaak took the win in Siena in 2021 in what was supposed to be her final year of racing. Clearly, she hasn’t kicked the racing bug and recently announced that she’ll ride on until 2024.
Finally, we can’t conclude a favorites list for any race without including Annemiek Van Vleuten. Although her Movistar team doesn’t offer the incredible strength that Trek and SD Works enjoy, Annemiek has proven that she doesn’t really need a strong team to win. If she makes the split with the favorites, there’s no one who can go with her on the final steep ramps into Siena.
So, who are you picking for tomorrow? Let us know on social and enjoy the prettiest darn race on the calendar.