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STRADE BIANCHE’22: Pogačar Dominates In The Dust!

Race Report: Domination is a well used word when it comes to cycling, but Tadej Pogačar dominated the 2022 Strade Bianche with a 50 kilometre solo to Siena. After a strong, but too late chase, Alejandro Valverde took second and Kasper Asgreen was third.

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A well deserved win for Tadej Pogačar

Tadej Pogačar impressively won the 2022 Strade Bianche. The 23-year-old UAE Team Emirates leader attacked from the peloton 50 kilometres from the finish, on the Monte Sante Marie gravel section, and squeezed a nice solo from his legs. He finished solo in Siena after 184 kilometres.

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The Tuscan gravel classic with starts and finishes in Siena. The men will complete a route of 184 kilometres. More than a third of the route is on the ‘white roads’ of Tuscany, the sterrati. In total there is 63 kilometres of gravel over eleven sectors. After 18 kilometres the first gravel section starts. A ‘warm-up’ of just over 2 kilometres slightly downhill. Often there is a first real move on the 11.9 kilometre long Lucignano d’Asso, which almost immediately turns into the 8 kilometre Ponte d’Arbia. With over 70 kilometres to go, the race goes straight through the Crete Senesi, the finalé begins with the 9.5 kilometre sector of San Martino in Grania, which is followed by the Monte Sante Marie. This last stretch, which has been the Settore Fabian Cancellara for a few years, is 11.5 kilometres long and is very tough for the exhausted riders.

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The Monte Sante Marie is notorious for its many twists, turns, descending and climbing, a good technique is certainly required, cyclo-cross riders have an advantage here. It is 20 kilometres until the next gravel sector. In the last 30 kilometres there are three shorter sections: Monteaperti (800 metres), Strade di Colle Pinzuto (2.4km) and Le Tolfe (1.1km). Explosiveness comes in handy on these climbs, as the percentages are regularly into double figures. After the last stretch of Le Tolfe, there are still about 10 undulating kilometres to Siena. There is one last climb in Siena on the flagstones of Via Santa Caterina. With 1,500 metres to go the riders pass under the Porta di Fontebranda before they hit the narrow streets of Siena with sections of up to 16% to the finish line in Piazza del Campo.

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Can only be Tuscany

Out of an early leading group of nine riders, only four riders remained in the run-up to the final. Taco van der Hoorn (Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert), Samuele Zoccarato (Bardiani-CSF-Faizanè), Marco Brenner (DSM) and Lilian Calmejane (AG2R Citroën) were caught 52 kilometres from the finish.

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Big early crash – World champion Alaphilippe in the field

Before that there had been plenty of action. A massive crash in the peloton at 100 kilometres from the finish was quite stunning. A strong gust of wind blew part of the peloton off a gravel section, causing in a spectacular crash. World champion Julian Alaphilippe was in the front row and rolled into a field, but was able to continue.

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A very windy 2022 Strade Bianche

Others were not as lucky as Alaphilippe: Tiesj Benoot, Matej Mohoric, Michael Matthews, Victor Campenaerts and Gianni Vermeersch were among the victims. For them, the race was over after that crash. Alaphilippe got back into the peloton within 25 kilometres with the help of Mikkel Honoré and Mauro Schmid.

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No chance of rain and clay roads

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If the white roads don’t get you the wind will

Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl, Lotto Soudal and Bahrain Victorious took control. Just over 50 kilometres before the finish, the last of the early escape were caught, after which the real finalé could begin. Alaphilippe, Tim Wellens and Tadej Pogačar, and other favourites, showed themselves at the front on the 11 kilometre long Monte Sante Marie.

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The peloton was shrinking

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Tadej Pogačar made his move

The UAE Team Emirates double Tour de France winner got back to the leaders on a downhill section and immediately jumped away. On the next uphill stretch, Carlos Rodriguez (INEOS Grenadiers) counter-attacked, but he couldn’t get close to Pogačar. At the Monte Sante Marie, Pogačar was already 35 seconds ahead of Rodriguez and more than 1 minute up on the thinned out peloton, where Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl were chasing with Movistar and Trek-Segafredo.

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The chase was on behind

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Pogačar was holding them at 1 minute for a long time

On the section between Monte Sante Marie and the last three sections of Monteaperti (800 metres), Strade di Colle Pinzuto (2.4km) and Le Tolfe (1.1km), Pogačar pushed his lead out to a minute and a half. On that Monteaperti, Kasper Asgreen, Jhonatan Narváez, Tim Wellens, Alejandro Valverde and Quinn Simmons left the others to try to chase down the storming Slovenian, they managed to reduce the gap to 1 minute. The lights went out for Alaphilippe.

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The chase behind was too late

Asgreen used the Strade di Colle Pinzuto to go after Pogačar on his own. The Dane was joined by Valverde on the last white road section of Le Tolfe and brought to gap down to 50 seconds, but that was it. In the last undulating kilometers towards Siena, Pogačar was able to save his legs for the steep final climb on the Via Santa Caterina.

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Just the final steep finish climb to seal the victory

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Valverde good for second

Pogačar had no problems on those final ramps of up to 16%, raising his hands to celebrate victory in the Piazza del Campo. Behind him, Valverde dropped Asgreen in the streets of Siena for second place. The 41-year-old Spaniard, who will retire at the end of the year, celebrated his podium place.

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2022 Strade Bianche winner, Tadej Pogačar (UAE Team Emirates): “This is an amazing win, it is truly incredible. I went on the attack early on, but I did not know if I could make it until I reached the 5km to the finish sign. I tried to do my best effort on Monte Sante Marie, no one followed and I found myself alone at the front of the race. I was fully committed since this morning but I did not know until the last climb if I could make it. I was constantly looking back to see if someone was coming. In the finale I had very little energy left but it was enough to survive until the end.”

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Strade Bianche Result:
1. Tadej Pogacar (Slo) UAE Team Emirates in 4:47:49
2. Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar at 0:37
3. Kasper Asgreen (Den) Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl at 0:46
4. Attila Valter (Hun) Groupama-FDJ at 1:07
5. Pello Bilboa (Spa) Bahrain Victorious at 1:09
6. Jhonatan Narvaez Prado (Ecu) INEOS Grenadiers
7. Quinn Simmons (USA) Trek-Segafredo at 1:21
8. Tim Wellens (Bel) Lotto Soudal at 1:25
9. Simone Petilli (Ita) Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux at 1:35
10. Sergio Higuita Garcia (Col) BORA-hansgrohe at 1:53
11. Michael Valgren (Den) EF Education-EasyPost at 1:56
12. Floris De Tier (Bel) Alpecin-Fenix at 1:57
13. Lorenzo Rota (Ita) Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux
14. Sébastien Reichenbach (Swi) Groupama-FDJ
15. Ruben Guerreiro (Por) EF Education-EasyPost
16. Toms Skujins (Lat) Trek-Segafredo at 2:00
17. Andrea Vendrame (Ita) AG2R Citroen at 2:02
18. Jai Hindley (Aus) BORA-hansgrohe at 2:03
19. Filippo Zana (Ita) Bardiani CSF Faizanè at 2:05
20. Carlos Rodriguez Cano (Spa) INEOS Grenadiers at 2:07
21. Simone Velasco (Ita) Astana Qazaqstan
22. Xandro Meurisse (Bel) Alpecin-Fenix at 2:09
23. Diego Ulissi (Ita) UAE Team Emirates at 2:14
24. Andreas Kron (Den) Lotto Soudal at 2:18
25. Vincenzo Albanese (Ita) Eolo-Kometa at 2:23.

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