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“This is the year to win Strade Bianche,” she said. “I’ve been targeting this race for so many years.”
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The Canyon-SRAM rider has finished on the podium in four of the past five editions of the Women’s WorldTour race. The 136-kilometer undulating course suits her gutsy racing style, and her experience in the peloton shines when the going gets tough around course and weather conditions.
Niewiadoma says her approach toward this. year’s race is to think offensively rather than defensively.
“I’ve got a lot of different scenarios in my head of how we can win this race,” she said. “I want to feel like I’m in an attacking mode. I want to gain my confidence knowing I can decide how I want the race to go. As a team, we should believe in our abilities more and come to the races thinking how to win the race. We’re here to win Strade Bianche, not to defend attacks from others and survive until the final key moment.”
Niewiadoma has a strong squad behind her in Alena Amialiusik, Hannah Barnes, Elise Chabbey, Tiffany Cromwell, and Mikayla Harvey. At last weekend’s Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, Barnes sprinted to fifth place.
“I’m happy that the first race is done and dusted,” Niewiadoma said. “The feelings are good. There are some little things to improve on which is expected after the first race. With Mikayla and Hannah’s form, Alena and Elise’s climbing strength, plus Tiffany’s all-round skill, we can make this race even more beautiful for ourselves.”
Harvey may also prove to be a contender on Saturday. Strade Bianche will be the first time that the 22-year old New Zealander rides in Canyon-SRAM kit. She traveled early to Siena to study the course and familiarize herself with the ubiquitous gravel roads.
“I have been preparing specifically for this race,” she said. “I had two very hard camps with my teammates which helped with my form and included some more race-specific efforts. These camps really helped inspire me and I feel more motivated than ever with my training at home!”
This year’s 136-kilometer course is unchanged from last year. There are over 31 kilometers of white gravel roads, split into eight sections. Niewiadoma says that the race will likely be contested until the last hour.
“If anything, I would say the last hour is key,” she said. “Once we’ve finished the 9.5-kilometer sector every point, hill, corner, and gravel sector then becomes critical. We need to be ready for the non-stop pain in the last hour.”