After a five month hiatus, the women's WorldTour returns to action at Strade Bianche.
Will Van Vleuten continue her run of domination, or will Kasia finally get her win on the white roads of Tuscany? Here are three riders everyone will be watching at Strade Bianche, and another three that might surprise the favorites.
The young Polish rider is the most consistent finisher in Strade Bianche's history, yet she has never managed to win the race. Niewiadoma finished third in 2019 and came second the three years prior.
The finishing climb is perfect for Niewiadoma's aggressive climbing style, and one has to imagine it is only a matter of time before she pulls off a win in Sienna.
Annemiek van Vleuten
The winner of the 2019 Strade Bianche began her Classics season with fireworks, winning at Omloop Het Nieuwsbald to mark her first victory wearing the rainbow stripes. Annemiek van Vleuten launched her now signature solo attack, on the Kapelmuur, mirroring her winning move at Strade Bianche a year ago. In three women's one-day races held in Spain's Basque Country in July, Van Vleuten continued her dominating ways, soloing to victory in each race.
In 2019, Van Vleuten kicked off her incredible season with a win at Strade Bianche. She followed up with a trio of second place finishes during the spring classics, culminating with a win at Liege-Bastogne-Liege.
She would go on to become the national champion in the individual time trial in the Netherlands and sweep the Giro Dona, where she won the overall, mountains, and points classification.
Van Vleuten of course finished her season by claiming the rainbow jersey in the Yorkshire road race. Van Vleuten has clearly carried her 2019 momentum into the new decade, and is the woman to beat in any race.
Anna van der Breggen
Anna van der Breggen earned her first victory of the 2020 season at her first race of the year, the Setmana Ciclista Valenciana in Spain. Backed by the powerful Boels-Dolmans team, the 2018 world champion and winner of Strade Bianche will always be considered a favorite in the European classics. However, Van der Breggen has announced she will retire following the 2021 season, at the peak of her athletic potential. Will the Dutch star remain motivated to win even as her career winds down?
Lucinda Brand will look to her cyclo-cross skills to give her an advantage on the course's many gravel roads. The 3-time stage winner at the Giro Rosa and mountain classification winner at last year’s Boels Ladies Tour has proven herself to be more than capable on the climbs.
Coming off a strong cyclocross season and backed by former winners Elisa Longo Borghini and Elizabeth Diegnan, Lucinda Brand would lead a very strong Trek-Segafredo challenge.
The current American National Road Champion began her season in January winning the overall at the Santos Women’s Tour Down Under. In an interview with FloBikes, Winder said she surprised even herself with the form she carried into 2020.
Last year Winder finished just outside the top ten in her second appearance at Strade Bianche. With Lucinda Brand and Lizzie Diegnan at her side, Trek-Segafredo will have many capable cards to play throughout the race.
Marianne Vos is never one to be counted out, and the gravel roads of Strade Bianche will only play to the favor of the multi-discipline world champion.
Vos did not have success early in the season last year, but she came around at the Giro Rosa, winning multiple stages. She went on to win La Course by Le Tour de France, then dominated the Tour of Norway and Tour de Yorkshire.
Vos was on Van Vleuten's wheel at the critical moment of the 2019 Strade Bianche but couldn't hold the pace. A more strategic ride and increased team support could net Vos a win at the 2020 edition of the gravel classic.