Any pre-season nerves Team TIBCO-Silicon Valley Bank possessed before the start of the spring classics were quelled after Strade Bianche, the opening race of 2021 UCI Women’s WorldTour. The team came together effortlessly to help Kristen Faulkner place 16th after 136km of racing over Tuscany’s punishing yet breathtaking, gravel roads.
“It was a decent race for us,” director Rachel Hedderman said. “The team rode well. They stayed together and kept in position when the first splits happened. We’re racing at the highest level and to get a top 20 result is great. The team is gelling together well, and so it’s onwards and upwards from here. Overall, it was a good day out.”
Lauren Stephens. Photo/Twila Muzzi
Lauren Stephens also had a strong performance in her first race of the year, claiming 26th amongst the best. Chantal van den Broek-Blaak (SD Worx) took the eventual win.
Eight gravel sectors meant positioning was crucial in the race to Siena, and most of the team successfully steered clear of pileups and other expected issues along the unpredictable route.
“Strade lived up to its grand reputation,” said Faulkner after racing the legendary Italian event for the first time. “Having done gravel races in the U.S. definitely gave me confidence in the gravel sectors. I missed the early break because I wasn’t in a good position, so after that, I focused on staying towards the front and chasing any attempted attacks. Before the final climb, I made sure I was towards the front. I gave it everything I had.”
Team TIBCO-Silicon Valley Bank patrol the front of the peloton. Photo/Twila Muzzi
Upcoming March races:
Danilith Nokere Koerse – March 17
Trofeo Alfredo Binda – March 21
Oxyclean Classic Brugge-De Panne – March 25
Gent-Wevelgem In Flanders Fields – March 28
Dwars door Vlaanderen – March 31