3.04.2012

Strade Bianche reportage

Cancellara wins Strade Bianche
Piazza del Campo: red flaming in a warm spring sun, but airy and cold as if the winter was nested in the shadow of the narrow twisted paved street surrounding it in a medieval net. In Siena again waiting for the race. I thought I didn't come but came. As usual, as ever. Directly fro my son training session, still wearing our cycling clothes. In spite I have not to wait for Andy Schleck this time: he's not here. 
I can't avoid to remember all the times it happened: the first time I asked him a signature, the time he retired and waited in vain, but got his race number at the bus, last year when I followed all the race from the start in Gaiole and interviwed him at the finish with the serious guy by L'Equipe... In this square. Just here. It looks beautiful and empty. I didn't want to come but my son forced us and here we are
There is never a big crowd at the barriers, as if the people in Siena, inhabitants and tourists, are somehow distracted or not really interested. For the first time a big screan is available. We take our place, I check my camera. It's nice to be here, it's nice anyway. The speacker names the riders in front: Nibali, Kreuziger, Cancellara, Bennati, Gatto, Visconti, Vansummeren, Iglinsky....  it's a quite big group.
"The team had a precise tactic today and all the little things just came together." Cancellara said after the finish "Ben Hermans was in the first break and then when the elite group formed, Bennati did a fantastic job by attacking. I could stay calm behind and let the teams work that had more than one rider in the group.”
Roman Kreuziger after the finish
What I see is different: here in the square it's hard to understand if Bennati is attacking to win or to make a selection. Reason tells it's too early to go, hearts are exploding: Italians can be hot fans and on the Gazzetta Bennati was told to be RadioShack leader in the race. So we wait while the beautiful landscape passes on the screan. “These roads are similar to Roubaix I think," Cancellara said "and it’s really important to be in the front when you hit one of the sectors.  On the second to  last climb, when Daniele was still out there, I saw that everybody was really tired, so I decided to try something on the last climb.”
Van Avermaet moves first, Cancellara bridges across and in a twinkle his gap is up to 18 seconds, the 30.  He's gone. The square is claping to the big show. I'm happy! We see him entering the city, climbing the last nasty kms. Usually there is a battle there and the decisive attack but Cancellara is solo and gloriously arrives in Piazza del Campo with 42 seconds. The square explodes. It's a beautiful victory. The winner has got all the time to enjoy it and to rise his arms before the line. I have all the time to take a picture before I run after the finish where the barriers end and all riders must pass.
Daniele Bennati covered in dust
“I’m very happy. Today was a special day,” said Cancellara “Today  I won because I’m mentally 100 percent strong. You have mental strength and physical strength. Physically I’m not yet 100 percent. The training I have been doing in the last days was not specific for this race. The schedule for me and the team around me is to be in shape at the end of March and the first part of April. That’s still the plan, but of course it’s very nice to get such a nice victory. When I was ‘time trialing’ to the finish, I wanted to gain as much time as possible, to be sure of the win, because the streets in Siena are really steep. I thought about my uncle, who passed away a couple of days ago. The sign I made when I crossed the finish line was for him. This win is for him." 
DS Luca Guercilena interviewed
I see him interviwed but not in person: there is the podium, the journalists assault, then the antidoping test. Luca Guercilena passes by bike carring the prize - a decorated silver plait - and smiling. All the team is proud. It's the first individual victory of the season. Just the first one, I'm sure. Roman Kreuziger passes (6th) and he looks angry. His team mate Inglinsky (2nd) is on the podium but he fought for a victory and is in need of it. 3th was Gatto: dropped by Bennati's forcing he resisted and came back at the sprint. Bravo! Ballan attacked too and his 4th is good. He shared BMC leadership with Van Avermaet and both had a great day in Strade Bianche. I can't tell the same about Vincenzo Nibali: he was in the first group, he attacked once but didn't look persuaded. Visconti couldn't follow when the race became hard (14th). I finally see Daniele Bennati: covered in dust, looking forward the shower he finds a moment to talk with some journalists. But first of all he holds his little son Francesco. 
Fabian celebrates
At the bus there is nobody: no Danny, no Rune (they are in Paris-Nice) no riders (they are all inside relaxing, eating or taking a shower). Guercilena explains the team strategy was to try to win the race by Bennati. "It worked well, then unfortunately he had to stop because of personal problems but Cancellara could still use his work to attack and go away". In the press release there is nothing about Bennati's 'personal problems', but... that isn't a problem! Bennati tried, couldn't keep it going and Cancellara was ready to attack. It worked. It was a splendid race.
Thanks RadioShack for it and thanks Diene Bennati for his kindness: he let me take a picture with my son and gave him his bottle. He is one of my favourite rider not only because he's generous in racing but also for his good nature. There are few people in the world you can say they are 'good' and Daniele Bennati is one of them. In Strade Bianche he demonstrated to be brave and strong. He attacked too early maybe but it's hard to wait when you know many are doing the same: you must gamble and go. He did and can't have any regrets. In add he destoyed the small group left for the finish preparing Cancellara's victorious exploit. 
About Cancellara I say nothing: when a champion wins with such a class, with such an elegance and unstoppable power... few words are left, just one: bravo!
More pictures soon :)
RESULTS
1 Fabian Cancellara (Swi) RadioShack-Nissan 4:44:59  
2 Maxim Iglinsky (Kaz) Astana Pro Team 0:00:42  
3 Oscar Gatto (Ita) Farnese Vini - Selle Italia    
4 Alessandro Ballan (Ita) BMC Racing Team 0:00:46  
5 Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) BMC Racing Team 0:00:48  
6 Roman Kreuziger (Cze) Astana Pro Team 0:01:03  
7 Francesco Reda (Ita) Acqua & Sapone 0:01:45  
8 Francesco Ginanni (Ita) Acqua & Sapone 0:01:47  
9 Elia Favilli (Ita) Farnese Vini - Selle Italia    
10 Johan Vansummeren (Bel) Garmin - Barracuda 0:01:57  
11 Daniele Bennati (Ita) RadioShack-Nissan 0:03:58  
12 Jarlinson Pantano (Col) Colombia - Coldeportes    
13 Andrey Amador Bakkazakova (CRc) Movistar Team    
14 Giovanni Visconti (Ita) Movistar Team    
15 Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Liquigas-Cannondale    
16 Francisco José Ventoso Alberdi (Spa) Movistar Team 0:04:02  
17 Tom Dumoulin (Ned) Project 1T4i 0:07:50  
18 Laurent Didier (Lux) RadioShack-Nissan    
19 Fabian Wegmann (Ger) Garmin - Barracuda    
20 Patxi Javier Vila Errandonea (Spa) Utensilnord Named






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