Strade Bianche 2023 Predictions Named after the colorless roads surrounding Tuscany’s many marble quarries, Strade Bianche is the World Tour’s fashionable new classic. Running in just its 17th affair, the 184km (114mi) race attracts both top GC and classics men to try its steep gravel roads in central Italy. It’s also home to one of the finest finishes in cycling: up the 16% paving slabs to the historical City of Siena.
For those of us in North America digging out from record snowfall and sheets of ice, spring seems months away, but for the classics men of the pro peloton it starts tomorrow in Ghent, East Flanders, Belgium. Omloop Het Nieuwsblad is the first race in Europe and might be my favorite. The last two climbs are some of the most iconic scenes in cycling with grown ass professionals struggling up century’s old cobblestones at 19% grades.
World Tour road cycling returns to Australia for the first time since 2020 with the six stage (including prologue) Tour Down Under. It’s probably proper journalism to mention the race’s title sponsor; however, Australian gas giant Santos is being targeted by the climate action group Extinction Rebellion with a series of disruptive protests including the arrests of three women, ages 69, 70, and 74 for public nudity so there’s no telling how long the sponsorship will hold (the group pressured Santos to abandon it’s deal with the Australian Open in 2021 and has similar plans for TdU).
For whatever reason I never published this race report from 2018. It was my first 100-mile race and as you’ll see I had some issues. I left the report intact and only added for clarification. Background Barry Roubaix is a ten-year-old (sic) gravel road race through the rolling unpaved countryside of Barry County, Michigan. Though it derives its name from the flat cobbled French classic Paris-Roubaix, this version is rolling—think 100-vertical-foot 7-to-8%-ers over-and-over with some fast flatter sections to keep things together.
Ah, Classics’ season. In my part of the planet the snow’s (sort of) begun to recede, birds are twittering about, and smiles are abundant in the sunshine. Though our version of the Flandrian cobbles, washboard gravel, is glazed over with melting ice, I am no less excited for the opening weekend of World Tour racing in Europe. Omloop Het Nieuwsblad is the first race and might be my favorite. Except for last year when the weather was merciful, every win has come from a small, cold, wind, and rain-battled group, with 13 climbs and nine flat cobbled stretches breaking the race apart.
So you want to ________ Marji Gesick How to keep your sanity intact during the MG100 1. Find your motivation I watch this reality show on History called Alone where 10 experienced survivalists get dropped onto Vancouver Island for a chance to win $500,000 if they’re the last one left. The catch being an imminent winter and each person separated by miles of dense mountainous forest and uncrossable bodies of water, rendering the show’s anti-climatic but truthful title.
On failure: 10 things to do different next time I really hate writing race reports because it forces me to use the second person too much, as in ‘sometimes you just have a bad day’, or ‘you know, I really thought I did everything right this time.’ So I’ll try to refrain from that self-help-blog type writing and focus on the particulars of why the 2021 Mohican 100 kicked my ass so bad.
Some background I finally lined up for the Iceman Cometh this year after burning out mid-October in both 2016 and 2017 and breaking my foot playing hockey a week before the 2018 race. With a pro field 100-deep that featured national champions, former World Tour pros, and about every build of elite mountain biker imaginable, I knew I needed to do everything possible to boost my sprint and anaerobic capabilities just to hang onto the back of the lead group for a few miles.
Someone tells you it’s eight minutes to 7:30 PM. You have 11 hours and 50 odd minutes in your legs. You meant to do this two years ago but your bike broke the night before. Last year you found out heat hurts. This year was supposed to be different. You trained exclusively for this race. Said screw the local XC events and signed up for five hundred mile races across the Midwest.