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Saturday’s Strade Bianche Donne was one for the ages, whipped by winds and decided by near-perfect team tactics. As always, the imagery from this race is superb, so enjoy the collection from Ashley Gruber and Jered Gruber below.
Emily Newsom of EF Education-Tibco-SVB takes on an early sector of gravel, the lone survivor of a two-person breakaway.
The peloton remains intact as they cross one of the first gravel sections.
Early in the day, before the race picked up speed, the riders square their shoulders for a wild ride ahead.
Newsom is well versed in gravel racing. When in the USA, she dabbles in the gravel scene and finished sixth at Steamboat Gravel in 2021.
For EF Education-Tibco-SVB Newsom’s brave solo move would have meant some important screen time, unfortunately the live coverage for the race started after the peloton had reeled her back in.
The longest gravel sector of the women’s race, San Martino in Grania, spured the first real fractures in the peloton.
Some lucky men’s fans who got out early also got first row seats to the women’s event.
Marta Lach of Ceratizit-WNT searches for sustenance from one of the sports true unsung heroes.
A Liv Racing Xstra soigneur holds out a bottle for her rider from Poland Marta Jaskulska.
The colourful women’s peloton stands out beautifully against the Tuscan backdrop.
After a few gravel sectors the favourites headed to the pointy end of the race in a reduced peloton.
Annemiek van Vleuten makes her first move.
Van Vleuten wasn’t able to separate herself from a group of strong favourites like Elise Chabbey (Canyon-SRAM) and Marianne Vos (Jumbo-Visma).
A chasing group containing the world champion Elisa Balsamo (Trek-Segafredo) tries to regain contact with the front of the race.
Magdeleine Vallieres of EF Education-Tibco-SVB motivates the group to organize to chase down the leaders.
On the final gravel sector of the day Van Vleuten threw down a stinging attack that only SD Worx’s Lotte Kopecky could follow.
Try as she might, Van Vleuten couldn’t get rid of the Belgian national champion.
Behind the two Kasia Niewiadoma dug deep to remain in contention.
Vos looked like she had a lot of fun in her first race back since winning the cyclocross world championship in January.
Kopecky used her cornering skills to edge out Van Vleuten before they reached the Piazza del Campo.
She could hardly believe it!
It was a solid race for 24 year old Silvia Persico of Valcar-Travel & Service. She finished 10th.
After an incredible day of teamwork, SD Worx was understandably pleased with the victory.
Niewiadoma, who has finished on the podium four times, was disappointed in her fourth place result. Don’t worry, she will be back next year to challenge for the top step.
EF Education-Tibco-SVB’s 19 year old up-and-comer Abi Smith soaks in the magic of her first ever Strade Bianche.
For Kopecky, Saturday marked the biggest win of her career so far and the start to a promising first season with SD Worx.