Strade Bianche, the opening race of the 2021 Women’s World Tour will be on Saturday 6 March in Siena, Italy. The roster for our team will be led by premier contender Kasia Niewiadoma and with Alena Amialiusik, Hannah Barnes, Elise Chabbey, Tiffany Cromwell and Mikayla Harvey, the team forms its strongest ever line up for the race. Achieving four podium performances in the past five years, Kasia is one of the pre-race favourites for the seventh edition of the race.
“This is the year to win Strade Bianche. I’ve been targeting this race for so many years,” said Kasia calmly. “I’ve got a lot of different scenarios in my head of how we can win this race. I want to feel like I’m in an attacking mode. I want to gain my confidence knowing I can decide how I want the race to go. As a team, we should believe in our abilities more and come to the races thinking how to win the race. We’re here to win Strade Bianche, not to defend attacks from others and survive until the final key moment.”
The 136-kilometre course is unchanged from the three previous years., seeing the peloton race over 31 kilometres of gravel roads split in 8 sections. “It’s hard to have a key moment because it’s very open. If anything, I would say the last hour is key. Once we’ve finished the 9.5-kilometre sector every point, hill, corner and gravel sector then becomes critical. We need to be ready for the non-stop pain in the last hour.” Kasia, Alena, Hannah and Elise had their first race of the season at last week’s Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, where Hannah sprinted to fifth place. “I’m happy that the first race is done and dusted. The feelings are good.
There are some little things to improve on which is expected after the first race. With Mikayla and Hannah’s form, Alena and Elise’s climbing strength, plus Tiffany’s all-round skill, we can make this race even more beautiful for ourselves,” said Kasia.
New Zealander rider Mikayla, isn’t without her own chances of victory on Saturday. Mikayla’s climbing strength shone in 2020, finishing twelfth in Strade Bianche, seventh at Fléche Wallonne and winning the youth classification at the Giro Rosa.
“Strade Bianche will be my first race this season and my first with the team. I am beyond excited, especially as it’s one of my favourite races. I cannot wait to get into my kit and go racing with my new team!” exclaimed Mikayla.
“I have been preparing specifically for this race. I had two very hard camps with my team mates which helped with my form and included some more race-specific efforts. These camps really helped inspire me and I feel more motivated than ever with my training at home!”
Mikayla continued, “The key to our performance on Saturday is to really unite as a group. Strength in numbers is key especially on a hectic course like Strade Bianche. When we are united I get an extra special feeling, knowing I am not alone and we will suffer and fight together to the very end. This is very motivating and encourages me to bring out my innermost strength! I travelled early to Siena and this has been a huge advantage as I’ve had a week to ride and study the course and familiarise myself on the roads.”
“I must admit I am a bit nervous. However, I have learnt to love the anxious little butterflies because it means the race is important and I am ready to give it my all. I have done everything I can to physically prepare myself. Now it is time to freshen up and mentally prepare for BATTLE!”
The women’s Strade Bianche starts at 09:10CET on Saturday 6 March. The race will be broadcast live on RaiSport, Eurosport, GCN app from 12:30CET with country restrictions. The race can also be followed on Twitter with #UCIWWT and #StradeBianche.
Photo Credit: Thomas Maheux