This race hasn't always been a 'spring' classic, indeed the first edition was held in October before it was moved to its March position in 2008. It usually serves as a little pre-cursor to Tirreno-Adriatico which starts next Wednesday and those looking to compete in the week long Italian stage race are likely to line up at the start of the Strade Bianche on Saturday too. The race may only have a six year history but it has been six years of formidable winners with Fabian Cancellara taking victory here twice (he's looking to make it three this weekend) and Philippe Gilbert, Maxim Iglinsky, Thomas Lovkvist and Alexandr kolobnev all adding their names to the honours board along the way.
The race is most famous for its navigation of the picturesque white gravel road of Tuscany known as the 'sterrati' and whilst they may look pretty they also make for some seriously difficult miles of racing. In all their are around 70km of sterrati throughout the 188 kilometre route and the gravel not only makes work hard for the legs and produce clouds of dust, but it's unpredictability can lead to crashes and of course punctures. The route itself is lumpy for pretty much the entire length of the race, the last coming as the race enters the winding roads of Siena for what really is a stunning finish in the Piazza del Campo.
|The race finished in the Piazza del Campo|
17 teams will compete here including 12 WorldTour teams though noticeable by their absence will be Sky and Saxobank amongst others. Big name riders here include the likes of Cadel Evans and Alejandro Valverde but the name on everybodies lips will be Fabian Cancellara - twice the winner if he makes it three then a section of the sterrati will be named after him as from this year onwards La Gazzetta dello Sport have said they will name sections of the route after riders who have won the race three times. Cancellara has already told the press he wants to win here but with this added bonus his determination will be stronger still.
|Cancellara is race favourite|
|Young pretender; Moreno Moser|
If you are watching in the UK then the race will be live from 14:30pm on British Eurosport 2 on Saturday, if you live elsewhere then check your local TV schedule for details. Otherwise the usual feeds can be found online. It should make for a great afternoons racing and is usually close fought though Cancellara finished 45 seconds in front of anybody else last year. Whether he can do the same again is yet to be seen and there are plenty of riders who will be looking to prevent him from doing so. Even if the racing doesn't live up to the hype, the scenery alone makes it a race worth tuning into and with the recent disappointment's of Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne and Le Samyn I would take your chances while you can...