3.09.2014

Strade Bianche Reportage

San Gimignano
It's about the light. Intense and warm. It's about the wind, that rises clouds of dust on the dirty roads. That country whose beauty risks to overdo. Those ancient cities where time seems to stop. Clean, direct lines of a pure architecture that has never ended to inspire the more modern architects. Tuskany is my land and I belong to it. 
San Gimignano crowned of towers, Siena high on his petrified hill. The sun is shining, the wind is blowing, it is cold and bright as usual at the unusual start. I think of Gaiole, deserted, asleep. The vineyards of Chianti all around. It's more touristic here. Maybe more beautiful, bigger and cleaner. Gaiole is just a village, the Eroica's start. San Gimignano is a fortified town rich of history. The race goes southern this year.
San Gimignano
On the small square a small stage, teams arriving all together, signing one by one and posing for a photo while the crowd is clapping from the strairs of the church. It is cold in the shadow and hot in the sun, you can't keep open your eyes. The wind is annoying. Imagine that riding on gravel. But before the start it is all cheerful and cool: riders friendly mixed, chattering and smiling. You need to relax, you need to be calm to be able to focus, to give it all when you must. That colourful mess of different kits and bikes makes the sky look more compact, all uniform and blue.
On the stage there are Paolo Mei and Anthony McCrossan, now Team Qhubeka is signing, in yellow and black. The square is full, in the narrow street riders can barely line up, cars are ready, all is suddenly electric and busy. It's the start. In no time the square is empty and they are gone. Workers quickly remove everything.
Siena is still far, unaware, just waiting because of deserted barriers and music in piazza del Campo, where another stage has been quickly assemblated. In the middle, the race. The more southern of the northern Classics. Breathtaking and brutal like in Belgium. The peloton is riding where I see a white cloud. This year it's dry. It's a muddy cyclocross in rainy days. It's a rollercoaster, a Russian roulette, a merciless race full of grace. There is a break-away and the peloton chases without a break because here there is no room for strategy and the strongest wins, as Fabian Cancellara will say.
Anthony McCrossan
I see that happening in front of me. I take my place at the empty barriers in via Santa Caterina, in the hardest part of the last climb, already in Siena, 500 m from the finish. I don't even go to piazza del Campo. I wait almost two hours here but it's worth of it. At 3 pm the street is crowded, the warm light of the afternoon paints in rosy the red of the bricks on the ancient building facing the steep cobled road. That's a gentle pavé, nothing to do with Paris-Roubaix, but here the climb is 16%. 
Team Qhubeka
In the golden sun light a car arrives with the red flags of the 'start of the race', then police motorbikes and finally the two small men on their tiny bikes. We know from twitter that they are coming, just two, while behind four are chasing less than one minute down. This two seem struggling to go ahead. Peter Sagan in front, Michal Kwiatkowski on his wheel. Sagan is pulling, Kwiatkowski is waiting. Sagan tries to drop him, he looks powerful and angry. Kwiatkowski passes him on the hardest of the climb and looks suddenly fresh. Sagan can't follow, zigzags, looks suddenly heavy. Kwiatkowski is gone. A small group arrive, then solo Fabian Cancellara, like a lion. Then another group and finally the peloton. Many riders abandoned, many are in pain on this last terrific climb. 
Start!
At the Trek Racing Factory's bus Riccardo Zoidl arrives escorted by the race's doctor: he has broken his collarbone but refused to go to the hospital. His eyes are wide in his pale painful face, his arm down, like dead. He wants to go home. Eugenio Alafaci comes after all: he gave his wheel to the team leader Cancellara who had got a flat tyre and he's all proud. 
Buses and cars are parked very close, it's a confused crowd of riders of different teams, staff, journalists and fans. Danny - the bus driver - always keeps his calm. I'm talking with him when I see a unmistakable figure:
- Scott! - I call. Team Sky's photographer Scott Mitchell, skinny and tall, his camera in the hands, looks to me and stops. 'm happy to meet him again. I ask him about Wiggins: he didn't start today but Scott says he isn't sick, he just decided to not race this race, saving his legs for Tirreno.
And it's time to go home. 

MORE PICS TOMORROW

Siena: TFR bus
Siena
Sagan and Kwiatkowski
Fabian Cancellara
Eugenio Alafaci
Danny in T Venn
Scott Mitchell
RESULTS

1 Michal Kwiatkowski (Pol) Omega Pharma - Quick-Step Cycling Team 5:20:33  
2 Peter Sagan (Svk) Cannondale 0:00:19  
3 Alejandro Valverde Belmonte (Spa) Movistar Team 0:00:36  
4 Damiano Cunego (Ita) Lampre-Merida 0:00:40  
5 Roman Kreuziger (Cze) Tinkoff-Saxo    
6 Fabian Cancellara (Swi) Trek Factory Racing 0:00:59  
7 Cadel Evans (Aus) BMC Racing Team 0:01:44  
8 Warren Barguil (Fra) Team Giant-Shimano 0:02:02  
9 Wout Poels (Ned) Omega Pharma - Quick-Step Cycling Team 0:02:11  
10 Simon Geschke (Ger) Team Giant-Shimano 0:02:51  
11 Salvatore Puccio (Ita) Team Sky    
12 Tom Dumoulin (Ned) Team Giant-Shimano    
13 Matteo Trentin (Ita) Omega Pharma - Quick-Step Cycling Team 0:02:54  
14 Michal Golas (Pol) Omega Pharma - Quick-Step Cycling Team    
15 Angel Vicioso Arcos (Spa) Team Katusha 0:03:02  
16 Ian Stannard (GBr) Team Sky 0:03:16  
17 Andrey Amador Bakkazakova (CRc) Movistar Team 0:05:40  
18 Christopher Juul Jensen (Den) Tinkoff-Saxo 0:05:56  
19 Franco Pellizotti (Ita) Androni Giocattoli    
20 Georg Preidler (Aut) Team Giant-Shimano    
21 Diego Ulissi (Ita) Lampre-Merida 0:06:12  
22 Marco Canola (Ita) Bardiani CSF 0:09:15  
23 Michael Schär (Swi) BMC Racing Team    
24 Miguel Angel Rubiano Chavez (Col) Colombia    
25 Martin Elmiger (Swi) IAM Cycling    
26 Alessandro Bazzana (Ita) UnitedHealthcare Professional Cycling Team    
27 Steve Morabito (Swi) BMC Racing Team    
28 Calvin Watson (Aus) Trek Factory Racing    
29 Reto Hollenstein (Swi) IAM Cycling    
30 Matthias Brandle (Aut) IAM Cycling    
31 Manuel Quinziato (Ita) BMC Racing Team    
32 Sergio Pardilla (Spa) MTN - Qhubeka    
33 Gustav Larsson (Swe) IAM Cycling    
34 Andriy Grivko (Ukr) Astana Pro Team    
35 Eduard Vorganov (Rus) Team Katusha    
36 Dmitriy Kozonchuk (Rus) Team Katusha    
37 Oscar Gatto (Ita) Cannondale    
38 Jonathan Castroviejo Nicolas (Spa) Movistar Team    
39 Samuel Sanchez Gonzalez (Spa) BMC Racing Team    
40 Rodolfo Andres Torres Agudelo (Col) Colombia    
41 Dario Cataldo (Ita) Team Sky    
42 Tanel Kangert (Est) Astana Pro Team    
43 Benat Intxausti Elorriaga (Spa) Movistar Team    
44 Moreno Moser (Ita) Cannondale    
45 Marco Frapporti (Ita) Androni Giocattoli    
46 Hayden Roulston (NZl) Trek Factory Racing    
47 Jarlinson Pantano (Col) Colombia    
48 Mauro Finetto (Ita) Yellow Fluo 0:12:05  
49 Thomas Lövkvist (Swe) IAM Cycling 0:12:15  
50 Tobias Ludvigsson (Swe) Team Giant-Shimano    
51 Daniele Bennati (Ita) Tinkoff-Saxo    
52 Matteo Tosatto (Ita) Tinkoff-Saxo    
53 Ben Swift (GBr) Team Sky    
54 Nicolas Roche (Irl) Tinkoff-Saxo    
55 Rigoberto Uran Uran (Col) Omega Pharma - Quick-Step Cycling Team    
56 Maxim Iglinskiy (Kaz) Astana Pro Team 0:12:18  
57 Andrey Zeits (Kaz) Astana Pro Team    
58 Angelo Pagani (Ita) Bardiani CSF 0:14:08  
59 Paolo Colonna (Ita) Bardiani CSF    
60 Martijn Maaskant (Ned) UnitedHealthcare Professional Cycling Team    
61 Alexey Lutsenko (Kaz) Astana Pro Team    
62 Simone Ponzi (Ita) Yellow Fluo 0:16:41  
63 Matteo Rabottini (Ita) Yellow Fluo    
64 Marc de Maar (AHo) UnitedHealthcare Professional Cycling Team    
65 Nicola Testi (Ita) Androni Giocattoli    
66 Diego Rosa (Ita) Androni Giocattoli    
67 Markel Irizar Aranburu (Spa) Trek Factory Racing    
68 Daniel Teklehaimanot (Eri) MTN - Qhubeka    
69 Dominik Nerz (Ger) BMC Racing Team    
70 Marcel Aregger (Swi) IAM Cycling    
71 Lawrence Warbasse (USA) BMC Racing Team    
72 Johannes Fröhlinger (Ger) Team Giant-Shimano    
73 Sebastian Henao Gomez (Col) Team Sky    
74 Alexander Kolobnev (Rus) Team Katusha    
75 Kristian Sbaragli (Ita) MTN - Qhubeka    
76 Edward Fabian Diaz Cardenas (Col) Colombia    
77 Jonathan Paredes (Col) Colombia    
78 Darwin Atapuma Hurtado (Col) BMC Racing Team    
79 Alessandro Petacchi (Ita) Omega Pharma - Quick-Step Cycling Team    
80 Jens Voigt (Ger) Trek Factory Racing    
81 Jacopo Guarnieri (Ita) Astana Pro Team    
82 Tom Stamsnijder (Ned) Team Giant-Shimano    
83 Johnny Hoogerland (Ned) Androni Giocattoli    
84 Bernhard Eisel (Aut) Team Sky    
85 Marco Bandiera (Ita) Androni Giocattoli    
86 Maciej Bodnar (Pol) Cannondale    
87 Enrico Barbin (Ita) Bardiani CSF    
88 Andrea Palini (Ita) Lampre-Merida    
89 Filippo Fortin (Ita) Bardiani CSF    
90 Davide Frattini (Ita) UnitedHealthcare Professional Cycling Team 0:17:37  
91 Nathan Earle (Aus) Team Sky 0:20:07  
92 Manuele Boaro (Ita) Tinkoff-Saxo 0:20:17  
93 Michael Morkov (Den) Tinkoff-Saxo    
94 Andrea Fedi (Ita) Yellow Fluo    
95 Luca Paolini (Ita) Team Katusha    
96 Davide Cimolai (Ita) Lampre-Merida 0:20:33  
97 Alberto Bettiol (Ita) Cannondale 0:20:47  
98 Matthias Krizek (Aut) Cannondale    
99 Ian Boswell (USA) Team Sky 0:22:17  
100 Eugenio Alafaci (Ita) Trek Factory Racing    
101 Fabio Andres Duarte Arevalo (Col) Colombia    
OTL Marco Coledan (Ita) Bardiani CSF    
OTL Donato De Ieso (Ita) Bardiani CSF    
DNS Vladimir Gusev (Rus) Team Katusha    
DNF Kristijan Koren (Slo) Cannondale    
DNF Alan Marangoni (Ita) Cannondale    
DNF Manuel Belletti (Ita) Androni Giocattoli    
DNF Matteo Di Serafino (Ita) Androni Giocattoli    
DNF Fredrik Carl Wilhelm Kessiakoff (Swe) Astana Pro Team    
DNF Dmitriy Muravyev (Kaz) Astana Pro Team    
DNF Nicola Boem (Ita) Bardiani CSF    
DNF Darwin Ferney Pantoja Tobar (Col) Colombia    
DNF Pirmin Lang (Swi) IAM Cycling    
DNF Patrick Schelling (Swi) IAM Cycling    
DNF Niccolo Bonifazio (Ita) Lampre-Merida    
DNF Luca Dodi (Ita) Lampre-Merida    
DNF Manuele Mori (Ita) Lampre-Merida    
DNF Filippo Pozzato (Ita) Lampre-Merida    
DNF Pablo Lastras Garcia (Spa) Movistar Team    
DNF Enrique Sanz (Spa) Movistar Team    
DNF Francisco José Ventoso Alberdi (Spa) Movistar Team    
DNF Jani Tewelde (Eri) MTN - Qhubeka    
DNF Adrien Niyonshuti (Rwa) MTN - Qhubeka    
DNF Meron Russom (Eri) MTN - Qhubeka    
DNF Songezo Jim (RSA) MTN - Qhubeka    
DNF Dennis van Niekerk (RSA) MTN - Qhubeka    
DNF Mark Cavendish (GBr) Omega Pharma - Quick-Step Cycling Team    
DNF Mark Renshaw (Aus) Omega Pharma - Quick-Step Cycling Team    
DNF Thomas Peterson (USA) Team Giant-Shimano    
DNF Maxim Belkov (Rus) Team Katusha    
DNF Rudiger Selig (Ger) Team Katusha    
DNF Sergio Miguel Moreira Paulinho (Por) Tinkoff-Saxo    
DNF Yaroslav Popovych (Ukr) Trek Factory Racing    
DNF Riccardo Zoidl (Aut) Trek Factory Racing    
DNF Benjamin Day (Aus) UnitedHealthcare Professional Cycling Team    
DNF Lucas Euser (USA) UnitedHealthcare Professional Cycling Team    
DNF Christopher Jones (USA) UnitedHealthcare Professional Cycling Team    
DNF Kiel Reijnen (USA) UnitedHealthcare Professional Cycling Team    
DNF Samuele Conti (Ita) Yellow Fluo    
DNF Francesco Failli (Ita) Yellow Fluo    
DNF Fabio Taborre (Ita) Yellow Fluo    
DNF Mirko Tedeschi (Ita) Yellow Fluo

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