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Strade Bianche Women 2024 Race Preview

Strade Bianche Women History

The 2024 Strade Bianche Women is set to be another classic. In 2023, the race provided yet another thrilling finish, with Demi Vollering narrowly edging out Lotte Kopecky at the finish line. However, controversy marred the podium as Kristen Faulkner, who initially finished third, was disqualified for wearing a glucose monitoring device, altering the final results.

Established as a 1.1 race, the inaugural edition was claimed by American rider Megan Guarnier, showcasing the event’s potential. Subsequently, the race was elevated to Women’s WorldTour status in 2016, with Lizzie Deignan emerging victorious, marking the beginning of an illustrious journey for the British cyclist in her biggest year.

Over the years, the Strade Bianche Women’s race has been graced by the presence of esteemed champions. Elisa Longo Borghini claimed victory in 2017, while Anna van der Breggen triumphed in 2018, each leaving their mark on the prestigious event. Notably, Kasia Niewiadoma’s consistent podium finishes added intrigue, with the Polish rider finishing second three times in a row and securing third place in 2019. However, it was Annemiek van Vleuten who asserted dominance with back-to-back victories in 2019 and 2020, solidifying her status as a multiple-time winner.

As anticipation builds for each edition, the Strade Bianche Women’s route presents a tough challenge. Featuring 12 sectors of white gravel roads, encompassing 39.8km of the 137km route, the race promises excitement and unpredictability. The ascent up the Via Santa Caterina remains a pivotal moment, testing the resilience of riders as they navigate the uphill finish after a day on treacherous terrain.

Previous Winners

Demi Vollering
Lotte Kopecky
Chantal van den Broek-Blaak

Strade Bianche Women 2024 Profile

TV Coverage

Saturday 2nd March 2024

Europe: Eurosport/Discovery
Italy: RAIplay
Australia: SBS
US: Max
Canada: FloBikes
Rest of World: Might need to VPN to RAIplay

All times in GMT

Twitter: #StradeBianche

Startlist: FirstCycling

Strade Bianche Women 2024 Contenders

The winning moment of last year’s 1-2 result was somewhat overshadowed by the discord between those riders. Demi Vollering reportedly uttered an insult in Lotte Kopecky’s direction as the pair crossed the line. The Dutch rider won but was pushed to go all out to secure it with one rider expecting team orders in play and the other not. Ultimately it added Demi Vollering to the winners list. She had a relatively quiet Omloop het Nieuwsblad to start her 2024 season but that was down to having to work to try and secure the win for Kopecky. We can expect to see those roles reversed but also the pair are strong enough to go 1-2 again with Lotte Kopecky surely forced to repay the favour. The SD Worx team also has a wildcard option in Mischa Bredewold. The European champion secured 2nd at Omloop van het Hageland with a late breakaway.

Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio started the 2024 season well in Mallorca, almost taking a win at the Trofeo Palma Femina but instead finishing 2nd. She followed that up with 7th the next and has been training ever since. She was 3rd here in 2022 and is a consistent top-10 finisher over the years. Teammate Kim Le Court will also be one to look out for. The Mauritian is a strong mountain biker and was 9th at the Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race this year.

The winner of Omloop het Nieuwsblad will be here and is in great resurgent form. Marianne Vos first made us take notice on her way to 6th in GC at the Setmana Ciclista Valenciana with a pair of 2nd places along the way. In her last 4 Strade Bianche editions, she’s finished 6th or 7th. Teammate Riejanne Markus had a quiet race in Spain but has a solid engine. She will probably be a very elite lieutenant for Vos but could also put pressure on with a break.

Elisa Longo Borghini had fun with plenty of attacks and a solo move at Omloop het Nieuwsblad on her way to 3rd place and the podium. It was an encouraging return after she looked a bit off at the UAE Tour compared to the year before. Longo Borghini has never finished lower than 8th in 7 editions contested. Teammate Shirin van Anrooij is an obvious threat as a strong cyclocross rider and also finished 4th at Omloop. She was 9th in her own previous edition in 2022. 

The GC of the Setmana Ciclista Valenciana came down to just a few seconds and it was Kasia Niewiadoma who was the closest challenger to the winner Marlen Reusser. She looks in good form and has an excellent record at Strade Bianche Women. The Pole, the reigning gravel world champion, has finished in the top-10 of 8 of her 9 Strade Bianche races. Ricarda Bauernfeind and Elise Chabbey will probably look to keep their star out of trouble but will become solid alternative options if anything happens to Kasia. It’ll be a similar story for Soraya Paladin who usually finishes around 20th consistently. The team also has a wildcard in Chloe Dygert, who I almost expect to drop off the final startlist given she posted about having costochondritis recently. Coming off the back of an ankle injury, her form is wildly unknown.

Mavi Garcia
Mavi Garcia

We’ve seen Mavi Garcia finish 2nd in Strade Bianche back in 2020 and just a smidge outside of the top-10 a couple of times since. The Spanish rider already has 4 top-10s this season and has the potential to get back to those ranks here. Teammate Ruby Roseman-Gannon is also a decent shout to finish high up as well, the Aussie usually finishes around 20th place but has the potential to finish higher than that too.

Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig is another rider with a strong streak at Strade Bianche. The Dane has never finished outside of the top-10 in 7 editions. She crashed at Omloop het Nieuwsblad which prevented a good result in Belgium but is hopefully ok to keep her run going in Siena. Teammate Marta Cavalli will want to do well on home soil and was 8th in her last race here back in 2021. This will be her first race of 2024.  Amber Kraak and Grace Brown will be there as attacking options for the FDJ-Suez team and Kraak will try to repeat her solo win at the UAE Tour Women. Both could do a ride similar to Kristen Faulkner’s last year. Evita Muzic might be one who can go with the favourites on the climbs and a hilly finale suits her skillset too.

Floortje Mackaij should get a chance here to take the best result of her season so far after finishing 10th in last year’s Strade Bianche Women. The Dutch rider has been quiet so far in 2024 but this race definitely plays to her strengths. Teammate Olivia Baril doesn’t have a particularly good previous result on the gravel roads but is looking strong this season. The Canadian has already won Women Cycling Pro Costa De Almería and has 3 other top-10 results.

Despite all the climbing, Strade Bianche Women has never managed to be a Juliette Labous race. The French rider should suit the uphill drags, especially the finish but only has a best result of 25th over the years. She was 4th in GC at the Setmana Ciclista Valenciana though so there is hope that her form will be good to improve on that in 2024. Teammate Pfeiffer Georgi was 9th last year and had a very decent Opening Weekend last week. 3rd at Omloop van het Hageland was a great return after getting into the early break of elite riders before having to go again before the line. It feels like the Brit will once again be the highest finisher for dsm firmenich-PostNL.

UAE Team ADQ doesn’t have riders with a great record here. Alena Amialiusik‘s 7th way back in 2015 and Silvia Persico’s 10th in 2022 are the only previous top-10s from their starting line-up. You’d think with the cyclocross background that Silvia Persico would be a solid shout so far has more misses than hits in Siena. Erica Magnaldi is a solid climber but has barely sneaked into the top 25 over the years. A crash took her out of Setmana Ciclista Valenciana so we’ll see if she has recovered. Karlijn Swinkels has had a quietly strong start to the 2024 season. She just took her standout result so far with 4th at Le Samyn des Dames after being in the break for a long time. The Dutch rider could be one to watch.

Yulia Biriukova
Yulia Biriukova

Yulia Biriukova has never raced Strade Bianche Women but has just finished 2nd at Clasica de Almeria last weekend. The Ukrainian has been knocking on the door for a while and is always a one-day race threat. Teammate Ruth Edwards was 11th in the 2020 race here and filled in her sabbatical time by racing on gravel. The American is finding her feet again and already has some good results in the bag. Katia Ragusa has been in good form so far in 2024 getting into breaks in Australia and finishing 9th at Vuelta CV Feminas. The Italian should be able to do something off the front at Strade Bianche this year. She’s done 8 editions but never come close to the top-10, she could be on support or break duties here.

I’d be looking in the direction of Letizia Borghesi and Magdeleine Vallieres Mill for EF Education-Cannondale here. Vallieres Mill took an impressive win at the Trofeo Palma Femina, ghosting away solo and holding on against a chase of more illustrious names. Letizia Borghesi feels quite suited to the repeated steep climbs of Strade Bianche but hasn’t shown it with a result of her own yet. She was 9th in Palma when her teammate won and has been a consistent top-20 finisher in 2024 so far. Kristen Faulkner has joined the startlist which makes a lot of sense after finishing 3rd here last year, initially at least, and coming off her solo win at Omloop van het Hageland. The American might find it tough to go clear with a recent performance like that in the books but she’ll hopefully give it a go.

Nikola Noskova is worth a shout as a former U23 CX Worlds podium finisher and a good climber. She was consistent across the 4 stages at the Setmana Ciclista Valenciana to finish 8th overall there in her first race for her new team Cofidis. The previous experience here can probably be discounted with only a DNF from back in 2018 whilst racing for the Italian team BePink.

Ceratizit WNT has a number of solid options, but you’d probably back Alice Maria Arzuffi due to her own cyclocross background. She has the best previous finish of any rider on her team, which was 19th last season. She also has an 8th place this year at Trofeo Binissalem-Andratx. the likes of Cedrine Kerbaol and Marta Lach are tough to rule out but also tough to see them finishing in the top 10 riders as well.

There’s a lot to like about Fenix-Deceuninck’s chances here. Puck Pieterse will grab a lot of attention for them as one of the major cyclocross stars of the peloton at the moment. She took a great 5th place in last year’s race which was the first WWT race of her career. She took a pair of top-10 results in Opening Weekend and looks set to challenge again. She’ll be backed up by Yara Kastelijn who has finished just outside of the top-10 for the last 2 seasons. She’s another we know is good off-road and this will see her back into road action with a bang as her first one of the 2024 season. Christina Schweinberger has carried through her great 2023 form into this season. She has been 4th at Omloop van het Hageland and 3rd at Le Samyn des Dames in the last few days. I kinda don’t want to rule out Pauliena Rooijakkers either as the terrain suits her well. The issue will always be that pack positioning and descending, which surely aren’t helped by the loose surface.

Strade Bianche Women 2024 Outsiders

Nadia Quagliotto 2022 Trofeo Ponente in Rosa
Nadia Quagliotto

Nadia Quagliotto is in some great form for Laboral Kutxa but has only finished Strade Bianche Women once in 6 attempts. The Italian has been seriously impressive for the Basque team with 3rd in both Trofeo Binissalem-Andratx and the final stage of the Setmana Ciclista Valenciana backed up with another 4th and 6th elsewhere. Teammate Eri Yonamine was 13th in the 2019 race here and has a best result of 12th at Clasica de Almeria. The Japanese ride is always a fun outsider to keep an eye on.

One of a handful of riders in this year’s race with 9 starts here, which is a full set since the race started, is Rasa Leleivyte. The Lithuanian managed 11th in the 2020 race and has long been a threat on a punchy Italian race, ideally with a hill to finish. She won’t get masses of help from her Aromitalia 3T Vaiano team and her results so far this year haven’t been massive. It’s a long shot for those with long memories.

Finally, the newcomer to the elite level this year and impressing is Monica Trinca Colonel of BePink. The Italian turned up to a trial run by the team and did enough to impress after giving up cycling despite a junior career racing against the likes of Elisa Balsamo. She has been bouncing around close to the top 20 and was 22nd at Le Samyn des Dames this week on the rough, wet cobblestones of Belgium.

Top 3 Prediction