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Van Avermaet Battles to Eighth Place in Brutal Summer Edition of Strade Bianche

The UCI WorldTour one day race marked the return to racing for all seven of CCC Team’s riders and in stark contrast to the usual cold and rain that the March edition brings, riders battled temperatures of more than 36 degrees and a tougher kind of gravel on the famous white roads – strade bianche – of Tuscany.

With 3000 altitude meters across 184 kilometers, of which 63 were gravel, Strade Bianche has cemented itself as one of the hardest one-day races in the calendar, emphasized even more so on the back of a four-month break from racing.

The peloton eventually let a six-rider breakaway form after around 20 kilometers but the unity didn’t last long with the group splitting on the fourth gravel section and an injection of pace saw the peloton close in on then solo leader Simon Pellaud (Androni Giocattolo – Sidermic) approaching the fifth sector.

The fifth sector, with almost 12 kilometers of gravel roads, proved decisive with the peloton splitting and a select group of about 40 riders forming in front, featuring Van Avermaet, De Marchi, and Geschke, which went on to bring Pellaud back just inside 100 kilometers remaining.

A move from Simon Clarke (EF Pro Cycling) inside the final 60 kilometers kickstarted attack after attack, at which point Van Avermaet was sitting at the front of the group and formed part of the chase.

Sector by sector and with Clarke caught, the group reduced in size until Van Avermaet found himself part of a strong eight-rider group with 40 kilometers to go.

Van Avermaet looked strong and was able to respond to the various moves until the final 30 kilometers when he was unable to follow the wheel on the Colle Pinzuto sector, battling on in pursuit while up ahead, Wout Van Aert (Team Jumbo Visma) launched a solo attack.

Van Aert hung on to take the solo win with Davide Formolo (UAE Team Emirates) and Max Schachmann (Bora – hansgrohe) rounding out the peloton, while Van Avermaet hung on to finish in eighth place, 4’27” behind Van Aert.

Quotes from the Finish Line

Greg Van Avermaet:

“It was really one of my hardest days of my career on the bike. I still like this race but maybe ask me tomorrow [if I’m happy to be back racing].”

“Like I expected actually, it was super warm and the gravel was quite tricky. I managed to always be up there in a good position in every sector and I was feeling really good for a long time. But I also felt the heat and the first big effort took something out of me and I lost it a little bit. I was there in the first group with 6 guys but I also thought to myself just try and follow the guys as long as possible and that would already be good as I was feeling that i could not win. i’m quote happy with how it went. I was quite sick after the finish so I know how deep I went. For me, I was a bit afraid of this, the first effort of the year again. When I was an U23, I was really struggling with the first races especially when they were a classic, not the first stage of the Tour of Valencia. This makes a big difference I think.”

Fabio Baldato, Sports Director:

“For me, this morning, we could already see that this was going to be one of the toughest editions of Strade Bianche and it was 70 kilometres from the finish that we saw the big explosion. The race was really hard because of the heat and of course, the sandy roads were really dusty, it was like a fog and it was even impossible for us to see in the car. There was a strong group of contenders here with all of the Classics guys who had all prepared well so, in the end, it was a survival race and the strongest went out in front.”

“We saw Greg really switch off the lights around 30km from the finish. Others did it before and others immediately after. On this kind of day, I am sure he gave everything and it was great to be there. He showed that he is in good condition and he will be with us for the next races in Italy too. Overall, today was just was really hard. It was really unbelievable.”

Race Profile

Strade Bianche

Siena > Siena (184km)

Top 3: 1. Wout Van Aert (Team Jumbo Visma), 2. Davide Formolo (UAE Team Emirates), 3. Max Schachmann (Bora – hansgrohe)

CCC Team top 3: 8. Greg Van Avermaet, 28. Michael Schär, 33. Alessandro De Marchi

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