The Classics visit Italy! After Omloop and Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne, the classics leave Belgium and the cobbles for the gravel and mud of Italy.
Strade Bianchi is a twisty and unpredictable course, with no long climbs but with punchy hills, most significantly on the unpaved parts. There are roughly 62km of gravel roads, appearing in 11 sectors. Last year Fabian Cancellara claimed victory ahead of Zdenek Stybar. The final kilometres are testing to say the least, with gradients up to 16%, approach the city of finish line in Sienna.
Fabio Felline 🇮🇹 (Trek-Segafredo)
The last Italian winner was in 2013 with Moreno Moser, then riding for Cannondale Pro Cycling Team, beating teammate Peter Sagan. Felline has impressed me in the last two years especially with his versatility. He can be destructive in a bunch sprint, or on a climb as well as against the clock. He has been given the support of the Trek team and it looks as if it is between him and Jasper Stuyven to share the leadership role. I’d love to see Fabio take top stop in Sienna, especially after his great ride at Omloop
ONES TO WATCH
Gianni Moscon 🇮🇹 (Team Sky)
It would get a little boring if throughout the classics I just tipped GVA and Sagan (Although I will). I have tried to include some newer faces. Moscon has really been impressive with Sky and I’m still not sure what kind of rider he will develop into. I have tipped him of making the telling move at Strade Bianchi in 2017, as he seems a very clever rider. Plus he will still have the surprise element within some areas of the peloton.
Peter Sagan 🇸🇰 (Bora – Hansgrohe)
Sorry, but if you don’t tip Sagan for any one-day race your kind of an idiot! Sagan is in a class of his own, The full eyes of the peloton will be watching the Slovak. Despite this he has been in the top two at Kurnne and Omloop. He will be there or thereabouts.
Ben Hermans 🇧🇪 (BMC Racing Team)
Hermans has looked as if he has made a step up in the last few months of racing! Although he is becoming more of a climbing talent, rather than a classics specialist. Winning the overall at the Tour of Oman. He will aim to get in a telling attack with some of the bigger GC men and hold his own with them, Hermans is a brilliant endurance rider so will be able to keep pace with most. He will have to time his attack well although if he does go to the line with a more prominent climber, Hermans has a very tidy sprint.
Greg Van Avermaet 🇧🇪 (BMC Racing Team)Copy and paste from the above! The Olympic gold medalist will be a watched man, but that doesn’t rule him out. I think he will finish in the top 5 but just wanted to include Hermans, Felline and Moscon so couldn’t fit him in. Sep Vanmarcke 🇧🇪 (Cannondale-Drapac Pro Cycling Team) Probably will finish third, it’s just the way things are. Tim Wellens 🇧🇪 (Lotto Soudal) If a group of select riders make a move, this man will be there. He is an expert at escaping the peloton, And if he gets within the final kilometre without a sprinter for company, he can be explosive! Moreno Moser🇮🇹 (Astana) The winner of the race in 2013 is with Astana now, who never really tend to show at the classics, although you can never rule out a past winner. Especially an Italian Mike Teunissen 🇳🇱 (Team SunWeb) A little like Moscon, I’m not sure what kind of rider he will become! A future Niki Terpstra? Then finally their is Tiesj Benoot 🇧🇪 (Lotto Soudal). The 22 year old secured fourth at Kuurne, and kept up with the likes of Sagan and GVA. A possible top 10?
MY FANTASY TEAM (Purist)
The Strade Bianchi can through up a number of results, with past winners including Cancellara, Stybar, Moser and Kwiatkowski. It seems to favour a more Ardennes type of rider despite the stage profile having many short punchy climbs. I have been forced into 5 changes since Omloop, with Trentin, Felline, Wellens, Hermans and Moscon. You cannot discount GVA, Sagan and the classic nearly man Vanmarcke. I have tried to cover various outcomes of the with Hermans and Wellens covering a climber based attack holding out, Trentin from a large bunch sprint and Felline to cover both outcomes. Gianni Moscon is a little bit of a wildcard, he may attack solo or may support Kwiatkowski and get me some bonus points.
Join the competition at fantasy.road.cc
Hope you enjoyed the first preview of the year, please leave a comment.