March 1, 2018
Benoot and Van der Breggen solo to wins as weather turns Strada Bianchi into muddy tracks.
Tiesj Benoot (Lotto Soudal) and Anna van der Breggen (Boels - Dolmans Cycling Team) turn solo efforts in victory at the Strade Bianchi
Belgian Tiesj Benoot claimed the first victory of his career aged 23, three years into a career that started with a fifth place at the Tour of Flanders on his pro debut. His victory came as a solo breakaway after he dropped Romain Bardet (AG2R La Mondiale) and Wout Van Aert (Verandas Willems - Crelan) the triple cyclocross World Champion, who has proved adept in the Spring classics.
STRADE BIANCHE FINAL RESULT - Mens
1 - Tiesj Benoot (Lotto Soudal) 184 km in 5h03’33”, average speed 36.369km/h
2 - Romain Bardet (AG2R La Mondiale) at 39”
3 - Wout Van Aert (Verandas Willems - Crelan) at 58”
The Dutch rider Anna van der Breggen (Boels Dolmans Cycling Team) took a solo victory easrlier in the 49” ahead of Katarzyna Niewiadoma (Canyon // SRAM Cycling) and 59” ahead of Elisa Longo Borghini (Wiggle High5).
STRADE BIANCHE WOMEN ELITE FINAL RESULT
1 - Anna van der Breggen (Boels Dolmans Cycling Team) 136km in 4h10’48”, average speed 32.536km/h
2 - Katarzyna Niewiadoma (Canyon // SRAM Cycling) at 49”
3 - Elisa Longo Borghini (Wiggle High5) at 59”
Winner, Benoot said, “I was feeling very good behind Van Aert and Bardet and I knew there was a nice gravelled section coming up. It was pretty funny that my DS told me to go when I had already decided to do it! When [Pieter] Serry pulled, the speed went slower a bit and I remembered two years ago the decisive split was made on Colle Pinzuto [with 19.4km to go]. When I bridged the gap, I knew I was the strongest as otherwise I wouldn’t have closed 30’’. Once alone, I had a nice gap, it was a case of keeping going, no crashing, no punctures… I’m delighted that my first pro victory happened at the Strade Bianche - it’s one of the nicest classics. On my first time here, I was 8th, and I Tweeted that I’d come back for more. I also came here on holiday with my girlfriend; having an ice cream on the Piazza del Campo I got less attention than today! I’m proud I’ve won.”
Second placed Romain Bardet, said: “This was my first experience of the classics other than Ličge-Bastogne-Ličge and the Amstel Gold Race. This winter I told the team I wanted to race them all, including the Flemish classics on the cobbles, but I was told that I first had to do the Strade Bianche. This is really the kind of cycling I enjoy. Racing at the front is my favourite way of doing my job but here, anything can happen. We have to never give up. In the end, the strongest guys make the front part of the race. [Tiejs] Benoot was for sure the strongest today. I went at my own pace. I had a mechanical issue on the most difficult gravel road section and it was hard for me to recover from this. But I managed to go away and we did a great job with Van Aert to maintain a fast pace. I really enjoyed this race. After such a first experience, for sure I want to come back and win!”
Third placed Wout Van Aert, said: “I was a lot closer to the win than I thought but I suffered in the last part of the race. I guess I made a good move with Romain Bardet - it was far from the finish line - but in the last 50km I ran out of sugar. I was completely dead. I had only the podium on my mind so I’m happy that I succeeded in that. Especially for the coming years, this is a great start to my Spring classics career. I didn’t expect to achieve such good performances on the road and I first have to enjoy this podium at the highest level of cycling. My goal is already achieved with this third place. It’s already super. Anything else in the coming classics this year will be something extra and I’ll come back to the Strade Bianche for more in the future.”
A cleaned up Benoot gets what could be soon a thing of the past - a kiss from the podium girls
A victorious Anna van der Breggen said: “I have no idea why I decided to attack from so far out but I just felt good at that moment - the steep sections were perfect for making a difference. To win the race today comes from circumstances: it was a quite epic race, maybe the hardest race I've ever done. At the finish I was feeling strange and empty; it means a lot to me to win the Strade Bianche.”
Final Results - Womens
Final Results - Mens