Image: ©Tino Pohlmann
Pauline Ferrand-Prévot will have her first race with CANYON//SRAM Racing at Strade Bianche on Saturday 4 March. After her last race, seven months ago at the Rio Summer Olympics, the young French woman believes she is ready to race and makes her debut for CANYON//SRAM Racing at one of the races she loves. Ferrand-Prévot will be joined by Alena Amialiusik, Elena Cecchini, Tiffany Cromwell, Alexis Ryan and Trixi Worrack for the third edition of the classic Italian race.
Strade Bianche on Saturday also marks the start of the 2017 UCI Women’s WorldTour. With 30km of gravel roads over eight different sectors the 127km race is one of the most beautiful on the women’s calendar. Two earlier gravel sections than in last year’s race have the potential to create an earlier natural selection before the peloton reaches the crucial 9km long fifth section, San Martino in Grania, mid-way in the race.
Ferrand-Prévot says the classic race on the gravel roads of Tuscany is one she always enjoys racing. “I like the gravel roads there and the profile of climbs are short and steep which suit me when I’m in good shape. The downhill sections are technical and I really like these.”
The former world champion believes her condition for the start of the season will allow her to play a role in the team’s plan on Saturday. “I think I’m in good shape but you don’t really know until you’re in the race. I’m looking forward to joining my teammates again since our December training camp in Mallorca. I want to be good enough that I can help my team on Saturday. Already I am excited and a little nervous.”
The unmatched charm of the Tuscany race makes it a goal for many riders and Ferrand-Prévot’s teammate, three-time and current Italian road champion Elena Cecchini is looking forward to a good performance. “For me it’s special because it’s in Italy and I feel really proud of the cycling tradition and our culture. I’m wearing the tricolore jersey, my family and fans will be there cheering, and so it would be even more special to perform well on Saturday,” said Cecchini.
Alena Amialiusik, who in lives and trains during the season in the north of Italy agrees it’s one of the best races on the calendar. “I like Strade Bianche a lot. To me it shows the real cycling with hard climbs and gravel roads. There’s no chance to relax, it’s full gas from the beginning to the finish. You have to use your brains and your legs and be willing to suffer the whole time. The race showcases beauty, strength, and panache of cycling.”
Racing starts at 09:30 local time (CET) on Saturday from the city Siena, looping south in the Tuscany hills before finishing in Piazza il Campo around 13:00 (CET). Follow the action on the team’s twitter account using #StradeBianche and #UCIWWT