Pidcock Victorious in Strade Bianche
Many road cycling fans had impatiently been looking forward to the day of this year’s Strade Bianche and the coming of spring. The 2023 Strade Bianche route was a 184-kilometer ride from Siena to Siena and included eleven promising gravel sections. The riders set out in the morning from Italy’s most beautiful medieval city.
Fans were looking forward to an exciting show that included cool looks, spectacular attacks, devastating mechanicals, applied tactical excellence and, not least, watching the dust clouds rise behind the riders as they pass through the beautiful Tuscan terrain on the small roads marked by cypress trees.
The race was won by Thomas Pidcock of Team Ineos-Grenadiers, who used the same tactic as last year’s winner Tadej Pogacar. Pidcock attacked solo 51 kilometers from the finish line on the stunning medieval market square in Siena. However, contrary to last year’s winner Pogacar, Pidcock never established a significant lead that was able to crush all hopes of winning the race within the riders who were chasing eagerly. The chasing group was no more than ten seconds behind Pidcock with ten kilometers left to race.
Pidcock cleverly used the final climb to the finish line to extend his lead on the challengers and proudly crossed the finish line in 04:31:41 as the first British winner of Strade Bianche. Valentin Madouas (Team Groupama-FDJ) completed the race twenty seconds later and Tiesj Benoot completed the podium a further two seconds back for his Jumbo-Visma team.
"Strade Bianche is actually my favourite race, because of the scenery, the roads, the fans. So it’s pretty incredible to win it really,” proud race winner Pidcock told Roadcycling.com. “The course really suits me. The race only hurt in the last twenty kilometers and everywhere else I enjoyed every minute. The last effort was very different from cyclo-cross. It was full gas when the legs had nothing in them, but the win makes it worthwhile.
“I didn’t really attack. I got a gap and found myself at the front, so I committed to it. I thought I did something stupid when the guys came close to me towards the finish. I thought I had my shot too early, but it worked out at the end. If I don’t win any other classic this year, my spring is already a success, but I’ll definitely try to win more.”
Frenchman Madouas was disappointed with finishing second, but full of compliments for the race winner.
"Tom Pidcock deserves lots of congratulations. What he did alone at the front was phenomenal. He spent a lot of energy, but he was the strongest,” Madouas said. “I’m a bit disappointed because I crashed and came across only five kilometers before Pidcock rode away and I paid for the consequences of the crash till the end. My goal this year is to win a classic of the WorldTour. I’m getting close. I’ll come back again to win Strade Bianche because this place here is absolutely magic.”
Third-place finisher Benoot looked disappointed, but said he was pleased with his podium finish.
"It’s not bad to make the podium of Strade Bianche, I think. I love this race and I ride my bike for this kind of races, Benoot said. “When I attacked from the chasing group, the pace wasn’t high enough and the cooperation wasn’t great. Some riders came across to me and I don’t know yet what I could have done better. My biggest mistake was maybe to not have reacted behind Pidcock when he attacked, but it was very far away from the end. However, he was the best today,” Benoot explained.
It was the seventeenth edition of Strade Bianche and it was the fastest recorded in race history (40.636 km/h).