Bahrain Victorious set for “Strade Bianche”

Following the cobbles season kick-off with the Opening Weekend, the WorldTour calendar resumes this Saturday, 4 March, with the peloton facing another terrain off the tarmac: the gravel roads of the 17th edition of “Strade Bianche”. 

The race winks at the Classics, as it is described as the “Europe’s most southern northern classic”: a legendary course featuring 63km of gravel roads, across 11 sectors, punchy climbs, technical descents, and the demanding finale with gradients up to 16%, before entering the stunning Piazza del Campo in Siena, where the finish awaits the riders after 184km.

A glance at its Roll of Honour is also enough to state the prestige of the event: some of the best riders in the World are looking forward to being the successor to last year’s winner, Tadej Pogacar.

Bahrain Victorious will be in the mix, with Pello Bilbao as our leader and Matej Mohorič as co-leader.

“They will both have the same responsibilities”, Sports Director Alberto Volpi explains. “Bilbao is fond of this race, which he tackled two years ago for the first time, showing his skills and taking 10th place. A result that he was able to improve in 2022, when he was 5th. After a year, the Spaniard is at the start with the same great ambitions and some more personal successes to boost his motivation. Mohorič is competing in this race for the sixth time: in the last edition, the Slovenian champion was unfortunately involved in a crash. Otherwise, he may have managed to achieve a good result. He was in good shape, as he is now. In Belgium, he took his first podium of the season, and he will be back in Siena eager to achieve what a rider of his talent deserves on such a race”.

Young Bahrain Victorious riders will be making their Strade Bianche debuts, such as Fran Miholjević, Rainer Kepplinger, and Matevz Govekar. “They will have different tasks according to the different phases of the race and how it will unfold. We must stay attentive since the beginning,” Volpi says, praising the solid squad ready for this challenging and dusty field. “We also have a newcomer in the team with the role of road captain: Andrea Pasqualon, who will contribute to placing our leaders in front, especially in a decisive sector as Monte Sante Marie. If a breakaway forms in the initial part of the race, Hermann Pernsteiner can join it. The Austrian is skilled in riding the bike on this terrain, seeing his former experience as a mountain bike rider. We have a talented group, and I think we will assist in a more open race than last year, due to the absence of Pogacar. But besides the rival, there can be another enemy: the weather. It should not be a rainy day, so we only hope there won’t be too much wind. Crosswinds can be very dangerous in this race”.

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