photo credits @ Strade Bianche
Fabian Cancellara won today’s men’s Strade Bianche, marking the Swiss rider’s third victory in the coveted one-day Italian race.
Cancellara managed to out-power defending champion Zdenek Stybar (Etixx – Quick-Step) during the waning moments of today’s race to take the victory.
Meanwhile, Stybar’s Etixx teammate, Gianluca Brambilla, rounded out the podium in third spot.
“This day is special,” Cancellara said after the race. “I had to play my best cards. I’m speechless. I knew that I couldn’t let Brambilla get too far ahead, despite Etixx-Quick Step outnumbering me.
“I used my experience and confidence to leave it to the very end. It’s because I know myself very well. To win it for the third time means that I have made history as I’ll now have my name on a gravel road. I put my mark in Siena forever. It makes me happy.”
Shortly after the start in Siena, a small breakaway group containing Brambilla, Andriy Grivko (Astana), Brent Bookwalter (BMC), Maxime Monfort (Lotto-Soudal) and Salvatore Puccio (Sky), got underway.
Not long after, Puccio suffered a mechanical problem, which brought a quick close to the Italian rider’s time in the breakaway.
With 35 kilometers to go, the lead quartet was holding onto a slight lead of less than a minute, as riders from Sky and Astana were busy setting the pace back in the chase group.
With less than 22 kilometers remaining, Brambilla decided to attack his breakaway companions along the penultimate gravel sector.
From there, he was joined Etixx-QuickStep team-mate Stybar, Cancellara and Peter Sagan from the lead chase group.
Behind, the peloton had become strung-out as a result of the pace being set by Vincenzo Nibali (Astana), Michal Kwiatkowski (Sky) and Greg Van Avermaet (BMC).
Back up front, Sagan led the leaders into the final gravel sector with its steep climb, as they continued to cling on to a 13 seconds ago over the chase.
Inside the final 10 kilometers, co-operation amongst the four lead riders began to falter, with Cancellara gesturing to the Etixx duo to hasten the pace.
Shortly after, Brambilla answered with an attack, while Stybar proceeded to sit on Sagan and Cancellara’s wheels.
Back in the chase, cohesion was also faltering, as the four leaders were seemingly allowed to remain out front.
Brambilla hit the final climb in a solo effort, but was unable to shake off either Cancellara or Stybar behind.
Sagan meanwhile began to fade, as he failed to catch Brambilla.
Cancellara and Stybar turned the final right-hand corner neck and neck, but Cancellara’s final sprint into the Piazza del Campo proved unassailable for the Czech rider.
2016 Strade Bianche Results
SUI 1 CANCELLARA, Fabian (TREK – SEGAFREDO) 4:39:35
CZE 2 STYBAR, Zdenek (ETIXX – QUICK STEP)
ITA 3 BRAMBILLA, Gianluca (ETIXX – QUICK STEP) + 4
SVK 4 SAGAN, Peter (TINKOFF) + 13
CZE 5 VAKOC, Petr (ETIXX – QUICK STEP) + 34
BEL 6 VAN AVERMAET, Greg (BMC RACING) + 37
ITA 7 ULISSI, Diego (LAMPRE – MERIDA) + 41
BEL 8 BENOOT, Tiesj (LOTTO SOUDAL)
NOR 9 NORDHAUG, Lars Petter (SKY)
ESP 10 VALVERDE BELMONTE, Alejandro (MOVISTAR) + 50
DEN 11 FUGLSANG, Jakob (ASTANA) + 52
USA 12 BOOKWALTER, Brent (BMC RACING) + 1:53
AUS 13 MCCARTHY, Jay (TINKOFF) + 2:02
ITA 14 OSS, Daniel (BMC RACING)
ITA 15 NIBALI, Vincenzo (ASTANA)
ITA 16 VISCONTI, Giovanni (MOVISTAR) + 2:22
LUX 17 JUNGELS, Bob (ETIXX – QUICK STEP) + 2:24
ITA 18 MOSCON, Gianni (SKY) + 2:25
ITA 19 TRENTIN, Matteo (ETIXX – QUICK STEP)
POL 20 KWIATKOWSKI, Michal (SKY)
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