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The professional women’s field will tackle 17 kilometers of Tuscany’s white dirt roads across a new 103-kilometer Strade Bianche women’s race, organizer RCS announced on Friday. The race will take place on Saturday, March 7, the same day as the men’s event.
Strade Bianche is a new addition to the women’s calendar, and is categorized as a Women Elite 1.1 event by the UCI.
“We are very proud to be able to announce today the birth of Strade Bianche Women Elite, which is going to enrich a movement in continuous development and show how RCS Sport continues to invest in the cycling world,” racer director Mauro Vegni said at the race presentation in Siena, Italy.
The race will begin in San Gimignano and end in Siena, just as the men’s race does; the first 33km and the final 20km will be raced on the same course. It will tackle 17km of dirt roads spread across five sectors, including a 9.5km sector between Crete Senesi which ends with a long, curving climb that could prove decisive. The first and last dirt sectors will be the same as those used in the men’s race.
The Strade Bianchi men’s race has been run under various titles since 2007, first as Monte Paschi Eroica and then Montepaschi Strade Bianche. Despite its short history, it has gained a loyal following among fans and racers for its beautiful landscapes, unpredictable white dirt roads (the strade bianche that gives the race its name), punchy climbs, and difficult finish.
The women’s event will set off at 9 a.m., 90 minutes before the men’s event.
“I’m really happy for the birth of this fantastic race. For all the Italian women cyclists and for the women’s cycling movement in general it’s fundamental to have races of this level,” said Elisa Longo Borghini (Wiggle Honda). “I would like to thank, on behalf of all my fellow athletes, those who helped to add the event to our racing calendar. A race like this, held just before the men’s event, gives me a double satisfaction, considering it fits my characteristics as rider. I’ve already put it as one of my season targets.”
The men will face the same course as last year, according to RCS, covering 200km with approximately 50km of dirt roads.
The race was won by Michael Kwiatkowski last year. The Polish rider, who would go on to win the world championship road race at the end of the season, dropped Peter Sagan up the final steep climb into the heart of Siena.
RCS also announced the inclusion of a gran fondo on Sunday, March 8, which will cover the same course as the men’s event. Further details will be released by RCS at a later date.