Strade Bianche 2024 Preview

Stop the nonsense. We have our monuments and this is not one of them. It is a fantastic race, hopefully one that inspire many more race days on gravel in the future.

We have a change to the route. It adds up to 215 km in distance and 71 km on gravel. My initial though was simple. It will simply be more selective than it already is. It also increases the chances of punctures.


I’m going with the official road profile. I like the simplicity of it. Just do remember this: There is 3500 climbing meters in there.

New main thing is this. S. Martino In Grania and Monte Sante Marie are still where they are supposed to be. Early on. Then, after Monteaperti, Colle Pinzuto and Le Tolfe, they take a lap north of Siena, leading them to Strada del Castagne and the three abovementioned sectors again before heading down to Siena.


Everything starts at S. Martino In Grania (7). This time, it starts 102 from the out and not 72 km from the line. It is very difficult near the end. It is one of two five star sectors.

Monte Sante Marie (8) is a long one. The hardest sector with S. Martino In Grania (7). It starts with 84 km left and not 54 km out. This is where we’ve seen the main moves go in 2022 (Pogacar) and 2023 (Bettiol and Pidcock). At the center of it, we have Muro di Monte Sante Marie (900m at 10.7%) roughly 79.5 km out.

From what I recall, the sectors here due get easier and the race starts suiting puncheurs more. Here, you have Monteaperti (9 &13), Colle Pinzuto (10 & 14) and Le Tolfe (11 & 15). Also the two new sectors, Strada del Castagne (12) and Montechiaro (13) all the way to the line.

You can see the steep parts in there, some really short efforts that requires immense power. And opportunities to attack between sectors as well. Here you have the finale, on of the most iconic throughout the season.


It will rain on/off until Saturday before clearing up as the race goes on. It is around sector 7 and 8 it looks to clear up, meaning the finale may have better conditions.

The wind will not blow hard enough to crash the entire peloton as in 2022 and that is good news. They had 20-25 km/h that day and Saturday looks to be closer to 12-15 km/h.

Temperatures around 12 degrees C.

How will the race unfold.

That finale starts early. 102 km out on S. Martino In Grania (7). If you try to compare it to other races, Trouée d’Arenberg is what you find similar in terms of distance to the finish line (95 km left). In other words, this will be a very tough edition. It may also result on S. Martino In Grania (7) being ridden more carefully that prior years, waiting for Monte Sante Marie starting 72 km left. I think that is more sensible.

I’m looking at the wind, and it seems mainly a headwind for the most important parts of the route. In 2022, they had a strong headwind/crosswind for sector 7 and 8, still we saw big splits, so don’t think it kills the race.

So the main question is, can you play your numbers here the same way you can in the cobbled classics? Honestly, I don’t think so. This race, especially with the new chances, is so selective I don’t think it matters. That is also the reason why you see the previous winners being Alaphilippe, Wout van Aert, Van der Poel, Pogacar and Pidcock and the last five editions. It is often the best man that wins.

So I could use a few hours trying to contemplate where the main move goes. You never really know here. I think Pogacar holds the key to the question. I think it will happen on Muro di Monte Sante Marie (900m at 10.7%) roughly 79.5 km out. Here the finale starts. Then, as the race moves on it feels a bit like Omloop Het Nieuwsblad. We have the climbs that can make a difference but timing, group coalition and many other things impact the outcome.

All in all, the new route makes for a tougher race. The finale will be very long and therefore having a strong team can benefit you but in the end, the strongest man wins this type of race.


Pidcock – Winner of 2023. So far, he has started the season off well, staying with the best for a long time in Omloop Het Nieuwsblad before struggling on Berendries and on the Muur. He simply doesn’t have the seated power of the very best. Nonetheless, gravel is another area where you often can stand on the pedals more efficiently. Plus, he is a very gifted rider when it comes to a technical route. He attacked on a descent last year and stayed away, he has that finesse over him. I think he is a podium contender, he was strong in Volta ao Algarve too.

Martinez – I wrote a few weeks back that Volta ao Algarve usually gives you a good indication prior to the opening weekend and Strade Bianche. That means Martinez can go well here. His 2023 season is one to forget and I will not make my judgement on him based on it. I know he is gifted on double digits. I know he can handle the flatter sections with his engine and I know his shape is good. He showed in 2022 that he can cope with the distance (in the Ardennes Classics). The main issue is the fact that he hasn’t done much one-day racing in general plus he hasn’t raced Strade Bianche in seven seasons. Still, I think a top-10 is reasonable.

Ben Healy – I can’t figure out what EF is going to do. I think the best option is Healy and here is the reasoning: Powless crashed reasonly, Bettiol was not in the shape I expected in Omloop Het Nieuwsblad and Carapaz usually requires a bit of racing to get the engine going. Healy has a big engine and he has shown decent quality in Volta ao Algarve. He showed in the Ardennes Classics 2023 that he can cope with the distance and the never-ending amount of climbing. I don’t think he can win but I think he can top-10.

Gregoire – I’m not going for Madouas. I don’t see his form being excellent. I’m going for young Romain, who was 8th here in 2023. He has been going well this early spring season, especially at Faun-Ardèche Classic, he climbed very well there. I think he is good enough to challenge for around 8th place again.

Skujins – If you watched Omloop Het Nieuwsblad and don’t suffer from short term memory, you will remember a Latvian distancing Wout van Aert on Berendries. He was 8th at Worlds last year too and 6th at San Sebastian. What I’m getting at is this: He is a damn good one day racer. I think he has become better the past year, and therefore I do think he can finish in the top-10.

Van Gils – form is stellar. He can cope with the distance, we’ve seen it in the past. To keep it short, a top-10 would be a good result.

Asgreen – “best winter ever”. Sad to see him crash against a refuge island (I hope this is a correct translation). Fair enough not to perform too well in KBK the day after. It is a very hilly race for him but the distance is good. The harder the better. He was on the podium in 2022, something he will hope to do again but I find hard to visualize this season.

Valter – two appearances, 4th in 2022 and 5th in 2023. Are they riding for Kuss? Or Laporte? I’m going with the Hungarian, who showed great legs in UAE Tour. This just seems to be a race that suits him a lot and he has the advantage of sitting on just a bit more than the others due to his star status is smaller.

Pogacar – How are they going to beat him? To spoil it all, they won’t. He has said that he enjoyed a good winter and that usually means he starts the season off flying.

Mohoric – I’ve not been impressed by him in the opening weekend. However, it can change tomorrow. He is technically gifted, enjoys races and stages above 200 km, steep inclines and is currently the WC Gravel racer. Mohoric will get a top-10 tomorrow.

Who will win?

Tadej Pogacar is a level above the rest.

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