Strade Bianche, beautiful and cruel

Pic by Tim De Waele
Siena and its dirty roads, beautiful and cruel. An incredibly hard day. An incredibly great victory for Stybar the crosser, and I was there when he climbed Santa Caterina on Van Avermaet's wheel, Valverde slightly dropped, Vanmarcke head dowm chasing. 
In piazza del Campo, one of the most beautiful finish in cycling, Stybar sprinted to win and Van Avermaet cracked. No mercy on this cobbles. No mercy on this gravel: Stannard crashed as well as Belletti, bloody face and race over.
Fascinating, a part.
I'll tell you more, STAY TUNED! I have some great photo and stories.

Zdenek Stybar:
"Of course I am absolutely thrilled about this victory," Stybar said. "But what made this win even sweeter is that in the technical meeting this morning, Davide Bramati and the team put their trust in me and I was deemed the race captain. It was a big responsibility and I'm happy I proved to be worthy of the honor. It was a great race. I love this kind of technical, up-and-down parcours. I can handle my bike well, so I was really in my element here in Italy today. At 50 kilometers to go were in the front of the peloton with Sagan and Valverde, but it was too early. So we waited and then we finally went with eight or nine riders. It was a bit of a natural selection as you could see who the strongest riders were already. When we remained with three riders, I was afraid of Valverde but also Van Avermaet because he didn't pull a lot in the last 5 kilometers before the last clime to Siena. He was on my wheel and I expected his attack, but not so early on the bottom of the climb. My 'finish line' was at the top of the climb, so I really gave everything to catch him and then when I did, I was able to pass him there. When I turned into Piazza del Campo it was a dream. When the sun is in your face in that beautiful location, with such a passionate public, and you know you are the winner with no one able to catch you, it is like an explosion of joy. It was truly incredible. This win is also uniquely important for me because it comes after a period of struggle after crashes at Eneco Tour and my one and only cyclocross race of the winter. It was a long way back to this level of condition, so I appreciate this victory even more. I want to dedicate this win to my wife, Ine, and my family. They have been such great supporters always.
I think we have some really nice objectives in front of us," Stybar said. "I'm still improving my condition, so even Tirreno will be an important step to get ready for MSR and the Classics. But I want to enjoy today first. When I came back from Mallorca ?on Thursday, everybody saw my images on Twitter. I had to fix my temporary teeth replacements, which I received due to my crash at Eneco Tour. The temporary teeth were moving, so I had to find a dentist in Italy to take them out and then put them back in, because I was afraid of losing them. I am happy I did it, because I didn't know I'd have such a big smile the next day with this victory!"

Sep Vanmarcke:
“I came close, a lot closer than I had thought I would. It went better than expected. It is unfortunate that I ended up just outside the podium, but I’m pleased to see that my climbing has improved a lot compared to last year. I feel ready for the spring classics.”

Team Sky DS Dario Cioni:
"It was quite extreme racing today," he confirmed. "With the wind out there that meant the riders started racing hard even earlier today. So you ended up with a bit of a natural selection process, but also with some luck involved. You didn't want to have a flat, as with the narrow roads it's really hard to give assistance from the car.
"Ian had a crash so couldn't be up there which is a shame as we know he's in good form. He has a bruised knee but he is okay.
Salva did a good ride. Tactically he didn't make any mistakes. He just didn't have the horsepower those lead guys had. But if you look at who they were they are all really impressive riders. He had prepared for the race and studied the course. He knew where he had to be, but once you are there if you cannot follow then there is nothing you can do.
He finished just outside the top 10 for the second year in a row. He could certainly have got inside the top 10, he just ran out of energy on what is a really tough finish." 

Fabio Felline: 
“This was my first time in this race, it was a beautiful race. I had a puncture in the last bit, but so did so many; I was not alone in that aspect! Hayden and I were in the chasing peloton until close to the end when there was another selection. I am not satisfied because I was not up there for Fabian, and he needed the support. Sure it was a great experience and not a bad result for me, but for me it is only a success if we have the victory.”

Fabian Cancellara:
“On the long sector the hammer went down from the favorites and the best I could do was only follow there. On the steeper parts I was gapped off but managed to come back each time. That was important for me, because I never gave in, and fought to the end. I knew that Van Avermaet, Stybar, Valverde and Vanmarcke would be good. For me, I was not sure of my form because I came out of Oman ill. I could tell I was missing a little bit of punch, to be able to go four or five times deep and recover fast.  But overall I had good sensations; too bad we did not really get a result, but I am happy with how I felt.
Markel was my savior today. I had three punctures total, but two came at almost the same time and he ran 100 meters to give me his second wheel!
It was a very interesting race. I can say it’s the only race where the cobblestone specialists and Ardennes specialists compete against each other, even though the Ardennes guys seem to have a little edge these days. It’s a great race.”

1 Zdenek Stybar (Cze) Etixx - Quick-Step 5:22:13  
2 Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) BMC Racing Team 0:00:02  
3 Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar Team 0:00:18  
4 Sep Vanmarcke (Bel) Team LottoNL-Jumbo 0:00:46  
5 Diego Rosa (Ita) Astana Pro Team 0:00:56  
6 Oscar Gatto (Ita) Androni Giocattoli 0:00:59  
7 Rigoberto Uran (Col) Etixx - Quick-Step  
8 Fabio Felline (Ita) Trek Factory Racing 0:01:02  
9 Przemyslaw Niemiec (Pol) Lampre-Merida 0:01:03  
10 Giampaolo Caruso (Ita) Team Katusha  
11 Roman Kreuziger (Cze) Tinkoff-Saxo  
12 Angel Vicioso (Spa) Team Katusha 0:01:07  
13 Salvatore Puccio (Ita) Team Sky  
14 Julien Vermote (Bel) Etixx - Quick-Step 0:01:10  
15 Samuel Sanchez (Spa) BMC Racing Team  
16 Damiano Cunego (Ita) Nippo - Vini Fantini 0:01:19  
17 Luke Durbridge (Aus) Orica GreenEdge 0:01:22  
18 Daniel Oss (Ita) BMC Racing Team 0:01:26  
19 Fabian Cancellara (Swi) Trek Factory Racing  
20 Pieter Serry (Bel) Etixx - Quick-Step  
21 Esteban Chaves (Col) Orica GreenEdge 0:01:29  
22 Andriy Grivko (Ukr) Astana Pro Team 0:01:56  
23 Eduard Vorganov (Rus) Team Katusha 0:01:57  
24 Matteo Montaguti (Ita) AG2R La Mondiale 0:02:01  
25 Hayden Roulston (NZl) Trek Factory Racing 0:02:10  
26 Nathan Haas (Aus) Cannondale-Garmin Pro Cycling Team 0:02:19  
27 Filippo Pozzato (Ita) Lampre-Merida 0:04:21  
28 Christopher Juul Jensen (Den) Tinkoff-Saxo 0:04:30  
29 Mathew Hayman (Aus) Orica GreenEdge 0:04:47  
30 Giovanni Visconti (Ita) Movistar Team 0:04:49  
31 Peter Sagan (Svk) Tinkoff-Saxo 0:05:13  
32 Maciej Bodnar (Pol) Tinkoff-Saxo  
33 Mauro Finetto (Ita) Southeast Pro Cycling 0:05:40  
34 Magnus Cort Nielsen (Den) Orica GreenEdge 0:06:34  
35 Francesco Gavazzi (Ita) Southeast Pro Cycling 0:06:51  
36 Elia Favilli (Ita) Southeast Pro Cycling 0:07:35  
37 Damiano Caruso (Ita) BMC Racing Team  
38 Manuele Boaro (Ita) Tinkoff-Saxo  
39 Aleksei Tsatevich (Rus) Team Katusha  
40 Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Astana Pro Team  
41 Manuel Quinziato (Ita) BMC Racing Team  
42 Pavel Kochetkov (Rus) Team Katusha  
43 Luka Pibernik (Slo) Lampre-Merida  
44 Iuri Filosi (Ita) Nippo - Vini Fantini  
45 Jose Rodolfo Serpa (Col) Lampre-Merida  
46 Moreno Moser (Ita) Cannondale-Garmin Pro Cycling Team  
47 Xabier Zandio Echaide (Spa) Team Sky  
48 Marco Fontana (Ita) Italy  
49 Dmitrii Kozonchuk (Rus) Team Katusha  
50 Alexander Porsev (Rus) Team Katusha 0:07:49  
51 Alessandro De Marchi (Ita) BMC Racing Team 0:08:16  
52 Andrei Solomennikov (Rus) RusVelo 0:11:18  
53 Ildar Arslanov (Rus) RusVelo  
54 Alexey Lutsenko (Kaz) Astana Pro Team  
55 Niki Terpstra (Ned) Etixx - Quick-Step 0:11:22  
56 Sonny Colbrelli (Ita) Bardiani CSF  
57 Paul Martens (Ger) Team LottoNL-Jumbo 0:12:12  
58 Andrey Amador (CRc) Movistar Team 0:18:31  
59 Fabio Sabatini (Ita) Etixx - Quick-Step 0:19:20  
60 Ruslan Tleubayev (Kaz) Astana Pro Team  
61 Daniele Bennati (Ita) Tinkoff-Saxo  
62 Pablo Lastras (Spa) Movistar Team  
63 Markel Irizar (Spa) Trek Factory Racing  
64 Ivan Balykin (Rus) RusVelo  
65 Serghei Tvetcov (Rom) Androni Giocattoli  
66 Carlos Verona Quintanilla (Spa) Etixx - Quick-Step  
67 Kristijan Koren (Slo) Cannondale-Garmin Pro Cycling Team  
68 Roman Maikin (Rus) RusVelo  
69 Kristoffer Skjerping (Nor) Cannondale-Garmin Pro Cycling Team  
70 David Lozano (Spa) Team Novo Nordisk  
71 Davide Appollonio (Ita) Androni Giocattoli  
72 Artem Ovechkin (Rus) RusVelo  
73 Dmitriy Gruzdev (Kaz) Astana Pro Team  
74 Enrico Barbin (Ita) Bardiani CSF  
75 Ryder Hesjedal (Can) Cannondale-Garmin Pro Cycling Team  
76 Jasha Sütterlin (Ger) Movistar Team  
77 Svein Tuft (Can) Orica GreenEdge  
78 Lars Boom (Ned) Astana Pro Team 0:22:53  
79 Lloyd Mondory (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale  
80 Rinaldo Nocentini (Ita) AG2R La Mondiale  
81 Daniele Colli (Ita) Nippo - Vini Fantini  
82 Rick Flens (Ned) Team LottoNL-Jumbo  
83 Marco Canola (Ita) UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling 0:23:20  
84 Andrew Fenn (GBr) Team Sky 0:23:22  
85 Manabu Ishibashi (Jpn) Nippo - Vini Fantini 0:24:14  
86 Edoardo Zardini (Ita) Bardiani CSF 0:27:32  
87 Simone Velasco (Ita) Italy 0:29:20  
88 Valerio Conti (Ita) Lampre-Merida 0:29:24  
89 Artem Nych (Rus) RusVelo 0:31:14  
90 Luca Braidot (Ita) Italy 0:32:51  
91 Carlos Betancur (Col) AG2R La Mondiale  
DNF Hubert Dupont (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale  
DNF Damien Gaudin (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale  
DNF Pierre-Roger Latour (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale  
DNF Christophe Riblon (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale  
DNF Marco Bandiera (Ita) Androni Giocattoli  
DNF Tiziano Dall'Antonia (Ita) Androni Giocattoli  
DNF Alberto Nardin (Ita) Androni Giocattoli  
DNF Franco Pellizotti (Ita) Androni Giocattoli  
DNF Gianfranco Zilioli (Ita) Androni Giocattoli  
DNF Dario Cataldo (Ita) Astana Pro Team  
DNF Enrico Battaglin (Ita) Bardiani CSF  
DNF Francesco Bongiorno (Ita) Bardiani CSF  
DNF Andrea Piechele (Ita) Bardiani CSF  
DNF Stefano Pirazzi (Ita) Bardiani CSF  
DNF Nicola Ruffoni (Ita) Bardiani CSF  
DNF Brent Bookwalter (USA) BMC Racing Team  
DNF Peter Stetina (USA) BMC Racing Team  
DNF Ilia Koshevoy (Blr) Lampre-Merida  
DNF Manuele Mori (Ita) Lampre-Merida  
DNF Maximiliano Richeze (Arg) Lampre-Merida  
DNF Enrique Sanz (Spa) Movistar Team  
DNF Marc Soler (Spa) Movistar Team  
DNF Francisco Ventoso (Spa) Movistar Team  
DNF Nicholas Pettina (Ita) Italy  
DNF Seid Lizde (Ita) Italy  
DNF Giacomo Berlato (Ita) Nippo - Vini Fantini  
DNF Alessandro Bisolti (Ita) Nippo - Vini Fantini  
DNF Eduard Michael Grosu (Rom) Nippo - Vini Fantini  
DNF Antonio Nibali (Ita) Nippo - Vini Fantini  
DNF Simon Gerrans (Aus) Orica GreenEdge  
DNF Michael Hepburn (Aus) Orica GreenEdge  
DNF Adam Yates (GBr) Orica GreenEdge  
DNF Petr Ignatenko (Rus) RusVelo  
DNF Roman Kustadinchev (Rus) RusVelo  
DNF Manuel Belletti (Ita) Southeast Pro Cycling  
DNF Giuseppe Fonzi (Ita) Southeast Pro Cycling  
DNF Jonathan Monsalve (Ven) Southeast Pro Cycling  
DNF Simone Ponzi (Ita) Southeast Pro Cycling  
DNF Eugert Zhupa (Alb) Southeast Pro Cycling  
DNF Alberto Bettiol (Ita) Cannondale-Garmin Pro Cycling Team  
DNF Alan Marangoni (Ita) Cannondale-Garmin Pro Cycling Team  
DNF Kevin De Weert (Bel) Team LottoNL-Jumbo  
DNF Robert Wagner (Ger) Team LottoNL-Jumbo  
DNF Joonas Henttala (Fin) Team Novo Nordisk  
DNF Nicolas Lefrancois (Fra) Team Novo Nordisk  
DNF Javier Megias (Spa) Team Novo Nordisk  
DNF Andrea Peron (Ita) Team Novo Nordisk  
DNF Charles Planet (Fra) Team Novo Nordisk  
DNF Martijn Verschoor (Ned) Team Novo Nordisk  
DNF Christopher Williams (Aus) Team Novo Nordisk  
DNF Elia Viviani (Ita) Team Sky  
DNF Christian Knees (Ger) Team Sky  
DNF Ian Stannard (GBr) Team Sky  
DNF Juraj Sagan (Svk) Tinkoff-Saxo  
DNF Matteo Tosatto (Ita) Tinkoff-Saxo  
DNF Julian Arredondo (Col) Trek Factory Racing  
DNF Yaroslav Popovych (Ukr) Trek Factory Racing  
DNF Jasper Stuyven (Lux) Trek Factory Racing  
DNF Calvin Watson (Aus) Trek Factory Racing  
DNS Gianluca Brambilla (Ita) Etixx - Quick-Step  
DNS Ruben Zepuntke (Ger) Cannondale-Garmin Pro Cycling Team

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