All Set For STRADE BIANCHE WOMEN ELITE CRÉDIT AGRICOLE

After contending for victory up to the very last metre in the 2023 edition of the STRADE BIANCHE WOMEN ELITE CRÉDIT AGRICOLE, Demi Vollering and World Champion Lotte Kopecky – the recent winner of the UAE Tour Women – will once again lead Team SD Worx. 

The winners of the last two editions will have to compete against a cast of strong challengers also capable of riding to victory at Piazza del Campo, including: 

Elizabeth Deignan (2016), 

Elisa Longo Borghini (2017), 

Marianne Vos, winner of the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, 

Katarzyna Niewiadoma, four times on the podium consecutively from 2016 to 2019, 

Mavi Garcia, second placed in 2020, 

Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio, third placed in 2022, 

Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig, third placed in 2023, 

Kristen Faulkner, winner of the Craywinckelhof – Omloop van het Hageland.

The course will be twisty and undulating, with no extended climbs but quite a few punchy bits, especially on the unpaved parts. There are more than 40km of gravel roads across twelve sectors that are also shared with the Men’s course. The race starts near the Stadium/Fortezza Medicea in Siena. The first undulating kilometres on tarmac lead to the 2.1km-long gravel sector 1 at km 18, which is perfectly straight and slightly downhill. 

Sector 2 (5.8km) is just a few kilometres away; this will be the first tricky bit of the race, with a short descent followed by a long climb featuring sections over 10%. Upon reaching Radi, the route takes in the third gravel sector (4.4km), shortly followed by sector 4 – named “La Piana” – that will lead the riders to Ponte d’Arbia. Shortly after, the route reaches Monteroni d’Arbia, which marks the beginning of sector 5 of San Martino in Grania (9.5 km) in the middle of the Crete Senesi. It’s a long sector marked by a sequence of gentle undulations in the first part, and ending with a twisting climb that leads back to paved road. The sixth dirt road sector, Montaperti, is only 800m in length, but it greets the riders with double-digit gradients. The route goes back on tarmac in Vico d’Arbia where the 30km circuit will begin.

The demanding final kilometres approach the city of Siena along wide and straight roads, connected by sweeping curves, initially downhill, and further on slightly uphill. With 2km to go to the finish, the route takes the Via Esterna di Fontebranda; here the gradient touches 9%. The stone pavement begins 900m before the finish line, just past the Fontebranda Gate. The gradient is over 10% until 500m from the finish, reaching its steepest gradient of 16% along Via Santa Caterina. A sharp right-hand turn leads to Via delle Terme, and then to Via Banchi di Sotto. At 300m to the finish onwards, the road is a slight, continuous ascent. With 150m to go, a right turn leads into Via Rinaldini. The route enters the Piazza del Campo just 70m from the finish line. The final 30m descend at a gradient of 7% to the finish line, which is on level road.

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