Strade Bianche Donne 2024 Preview

Hot on the heels of the first of the spring Classics, Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, but very different in flavour, the white roads of Strade Bianche beckon for the women’s peloton on Saturday 2nd March.

The fifth round of the UCI Women’s World Tour in 2024, the stunning scenery of Tuscany forms the backdrop to the Italian one-day classic, which concludes with the iconic arrival back into the city of Siena, finishing on the Piazza del Campo.

In the 10th edition of the race which began in 2015, both of the two previous champions will line up alongside one another to take on the course. Most recently, the two sprinted it out head-to-head in 2023, with Demi Vollering beating teammate Lotte Kopecky into second. The rest of the women’s peloton will be hungry to break the Dutch super-team’s iron grip on the race – the team have won two-thirds of the editions so far.

The Route

Beginning and ending in scenic Siena, the route for the 2024 edition of the women’s Strade Bianche is almost identical to the previous year’s edition in terms of distance, at 137km. However, the actual route is different with organisers RCS adding in an extra loop which will see the women tackle 12 sterrato segments rather than 8, for a total distance of 40km. This will offer an advantage to those riders who excel on the gravel sectors, and may see the peloton split earlier and more decisively.

Once the riders have departed the start line just south of San Marco, they will head south on a large loop of the area, which will take them 85km into the route. From there they head west on a shorter loop, travelling north and east and back along the same segment again before the final 10km heading south towards the Piazza del Campo. Once the race enters the city of Siena, the riders will face the eye-watering 12% gradient of the Via Santa Catarina as they surge towards the finish line on the packed Piazza.

Riders to Watch

Occupying an awkward space on the schedule between Omloop and the rest of the Belgian classics, Strade Bianche is something of an anomaly when it comes to predictions. A versatile classics rider, capable of handling their bike off-road and managing some climbing is the profile of someone who could win – which suggests a wide range of candidates.

SD Worx-Protime have proven they have riders capable of winning this race – they have the past two winners in Lotte Kopecky and Demi Vollering lining up at the start, and if 2023 was anything to go by, we may see more fireworks if the two both make it into the final selection – another head-to-head battle for the line is not out of the question.

Aiming to prevent a hat-trick of wins for the Dutch team will be the gravel World Champion Kasia Niewiadoma. Kasia is made for this race. Her skill on the surface and her climber’s build make her the perfect candidate to try and take advantage of any disorganisation or in-fighting that might occur within the favourites; added to that she brings a stacked team to support her, many of whom could launch their own challenge should their leader get into difficulty.

Another rider capable of spoiling the SD-Worx party is Marianne Vos. The veteran Dutch woman has proven she’s back to her best, winning Omloop het Nieuwsblad last weekend. Visma-Lease A Bike also bring Riejanne Markus who is capable of going all the way in a major race.

Lidl-Trek are never to be underestimated. Shirin van Anrooij is another young rider capable of managing the demands of off-road riding, and she will once again line up alongside Elisa Longo Borghini – both women were in the final selection at Omloop – and they are joined by a strong team including Lizzie Deignan and Amanda Spratt, both of whom could have an impact on the race.

A rider who can handle herself on the cobbles and who has made the top ten in Siena before is Team dsm-firmenich PostNL’s Pfeiffer Georgi. The British champion has the grit to stick with the best, and is fast at the finish should she be able to hang on. FDJ-SUEZ bring a range of attacking riders. Amber Kraak and Loes Adegeest, both stand an outside chance of success, and Évita Muzic will be hoping to make her presence felt early in the season.

A very dark horse is Fenix-Deuceuninck’s multi-discipline star Puck Pieterse. Pieterse was a surprise fifth place finisher in last year’s edition in what was her first ever road race, and she will be buoyed heading into her second appearance at the race, and is the kind of rider who won’t waste an opportunity. AG Insurance-Soudal bring both youth and experience, with Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio and Justine Ghekiere hoping to be cats amongst the pigeons.

Riders to watch

5-stars Lotte Kopecky, Demi Vollering

4-stars Kasia Niewiadoma, Marianne Vos, Elisa Longo Borghini

3-stars Kristen Faulkner ,Puck Pieterse, Shirin van Anrooij

2-stars Ashleigh Moolman Pasio, Pfeiffer Georgi, Lizzie Deignan

1-star Mavi Garcia, Loes Adegeest, Amanda Spratt

Summary

When – Saturday 2 March 2024

Where – Italy

What – One-day race

TV Coverage: Discovery+, Eurosport

 

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