The sixth edition of Strade Bianche was raced in scorching heat yesterday in Siena, Italy. The race was won by Annemiek van Vleuten (MTS), with Omer Shapira the best placed rider for CANYON//SRAM Racing in nineteenth. Shapira’s teammates Elena Cecchini and Kasia Niewiadoma were forced to abandon the race after suffering in the heat. While the women’s peloton was reduced to just 45 riders who would cross the finish line, the scenario was akin to the men’s race a few hours later when only 42 riders finished in similarly hot conditions.
Shapira had an eventful race with a solo move, a small crash, and being present in the main breakaway of the day. The Israeli national champion explained her race: “The explosive climbs in the beginning don’t suit me so we thought if I was in an early breakaway that would help. I tried to go but in the end I was alone out in front for about 30 minutes. A few riders came across but soon after, it was all back together.”
“Someone slid out in front of me at the entry to the fifth sector, which caused me to have a small touchdown and lose the main group, but I was able to chase back. When I arrived back to the first group after the fifth sector Ellen van Dijk attacked so I went with. I knew I was almost finished but I tried my best. It was a challenging day and everyone struggled with the heat. I’m happy with my race and at the end I gave it all and I was completely empty,” described Shapira.
Her teammate, Niewiadoma, was disappointed to leave the race. “If I say yesterday was very hot, it will not be good enough to describe how hot it was out there. I felt good at the beginning but with every passing kilometre and growing temperature I started to feel so disconnected from my body.”
“I never deal well with hot temperatures but I think for the first time in my life I really overheated, to a degree that I was not able to do anything except stop. It is hard for me because I love this race but I had to look after my health,” said Niewiadoma.
“There were moments where you could see that everyone was done. You looked around at the faces. They were all tired and struggling,” described Alena Amialiusik.
“It was hot! It was 40 degrees on the start line. It was super important to try to stay cool, to take as many bottles as you could, whenever you could. We were lucky as we had eleven feed zones during the race from our staff. It was a very different race, it split up early, it came back together, the gravel was really different and there was just so much dust. I don’t know how much dust I inhaled today. It was a race that I won’t forget” said Hannah Barnes.