Monday, March 16, 2015

2015 Paris-Nice Race Wrap

Richie Porte in the Col d'Eze TT

Congratulations to 2015 Paris-Nice winner Richie Porte! The Tasmanian talent who is preparing to lead Team SKY at the Giro d'Italia later this spring, won the final time trial stage up the Col d'Eze. The 1:39 he gained on yellow jersey wearer Tony Gallopin was enough to propel Porte to the top of the final General Classification. Michal Kwiatkowski and Simon Spilak rounded out the rest of the podium, both finishing thirty seconds off the winning time.

Tony Gallopin did not have a good day on the mountain, and mentioned after the stage that he was not happy with having chosen to ride the timed climb so much in the tri-bar position.  Gallopin lost the race lead he had grabbed on yesterday's sixth stage into Nice, coming in 1:39 behind Porte in the TT, and wound up finishing just 6th on GC. Porte's teammate Geraint Thomas was pushed off the podium over the last two stages, and ended the race fifth overall. Jakob Fuglsang also underperformed, sliding from fifth overall to seventh.

French hope, Tony Gallopin on the move in stage 6

Escape artist and KOM winner, Thomas De Gendt

Michael Matthews of Orica GreenEDGE managed to hold on and win the points jersey he first grabbed with his win on stage 3. Thomas De Gendt of the Lotto Soudal team won the King of the Mountains jersey by making the break three consecutive days, including the very mountainous fourth and sixth stages. While he was not able to defend the overall race lead he had held earlier, Michal Kwiatkowski of Etixx-Quickstep did walk away with the white, best young rider's jersey.

The stage winners from this 2015 edition of the Race to the Sun were:

Prologue TT: Michal Kwiatkowski (EQS)
Stage 1: Alexander Kristoff {Katusha}
Stage 2: Andre Greipel (Lotto-Soudal)
Stage 3: Michael Matthews (OGE)
Stage 4: Richie Porte (SKY)
Stage 5: Davide Cimolai (Lampre)
Stage 6: Tony Gallopin (Lotto-Soudal)
Stage 7: Richie Porte (SKY)

The final podium (L to R): Kwiatkowski, Porte, and Spilak

Final Overall Standings:
1. Richie Porte  (SKY)         29:10:41
2. Michal Kwiatkowski  (EQS)  + :30
3. Simon Spilak  (KAT)                ST
4. Rui Costa  (LAM)   
5. Geraint Thomas  (SKY)         :41
6. Tony Gallopin  (LTS)           1:03
7. Jakob Fuglsang  (AST)         1:05
8. Rafal Valls Ferri  (LAM)      1:24
9. Gorka Izaguirre  (MOV)      1:38
10. Tim Wellens  (LTS)            2:18

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Bragging Rights in Fantasy Cycling Leagues

Okay, bragging time. In case you need a reason to have any faith in my picks for race winners, I am pleased to give you one. Here are the results of today's fourth stage of Paris-Nice on one of the cycling fantasy leagues I play in. The first image shows the 12 riders I picked to finish high in today's mountaintop finish on the Croix de Chaubouret. The second image shows the results of the leagues' 397 players today. My team is named "bkSuperbas", after the old Brooklyn baseball club.

Considering the field of climbers at the race, and his recent performances, I don't think anyone would fault me for picking Kelderman, he just didn't quite have it today. And I'm guessing everyone had Majka as a pick today. The talented Polish climber, and last year's Vuelta a España King of the Mountains, finished in 4th place overall at the tour of Oman a few weeks ago, after finishing 4th on the queen stage up Green Mountain.

Can I  pick 'em, or what?

OK, done bragging.
Hope you're enjoying the race!

Monday, March 9, 2015



From Wed. March 11 to Tue. March 17, 2015

The 2015 edition of the always-thrilling Tirreno-Adriatico World Tour stage race begins on Wednesday, and already the race has seen major changes. The third WT stage race of 2015 was to be the first showdown between the four top Tour De France favorites: Chris Froome of Team SKY, Alberto Contador of Tinkoff-Saxo Bank, Vincenzo Nibali of Astana, and Nairo Quintana of Team Movistar. On Monday, Team SKY announced that their team leader and race favorite, Chris Froome, would be pulled from the startlist due to a chest infection. So that four-way showdown will have to wait. Last month, Nairo Quintana was forced to miss the start at the Vuelta a Andalucia, after crashing in the Colombian National Championships. That race was supposed to have been the first meeting between the Colombian and Contador and Froome. Perhaps the deferred suspense will build toward an even more thrilling Tour De France, this July.

In addition to the TA race's GC favorite pulling out, the top sprinter, Marcel Kittel of Giant-Alpecin has been scratched as well. As has another in-form sprinter, Tom Van Asbroeck of the Lotto-Jumbo team. Plenty of talent remains on the roster however, to contest the seven stages that stretch from sea to sea, across the breadth of Italy.

Alberto Contador comes back to defend his 2014 T-A win
The other big change is the removal of the opening stage 22k team time trial. Heavy downpours and high winds are to blame for the organizers' opting to change the stage to a short prologue. The opening stage prologue will be a quick 5.7k individual TT now.

Favorites for the overall General Classification include the aforementioned Contador, Nibali, and Quintana, but two other riders who might have something to say about the GC this week include Rigoberto Uran (Etixx-Quickstep) and Bauke Mollema (Trek Factory Racing). Domenico Pozzovivo (AG2R) and Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha) might also be considered typical favorites in a climber-friendly race, but the two book-end time trial stages could create some challenging time deficits for the pure climbers to overcome.

A few other riders to keep an eye on to contest the top-ten on GC are: Jurgen Van Den Broeck and Maxim Monfort (Lotto-Soudal), Leo Konig and Wout Poels (SKY), Julien Arredondo (TFR), Thibaut Pinot (FDJ), Daniel Moreno and Giampaolo Caruso (KAT), Javier Moreno (Movistar), Damiano Caruso (BMC), Przemislaw Niemiec (Lampre), Louis Meintjes (MTN Qhubeka), Ryder Hesjedal and Dan Martin (Team Cannondale-Garmin), and Adam Yates (Orica-GreenEDGE).

The race also includes three sprint stages, though one will be an uphill sprint finish; a mountainous stage 4 that ends with an uphill sprint after a 6k descent; the mountaintop finish on stage 5 will provide the climbers with their best opportunity to gain time they may lose in the TTs. The 194k stage 5 finishes on top of the category-1 Termenillo (16k at 7.3%). The final stage is a pan-flat 10k Individual Time Trial.

Overall race profile of the 2015 Tirreno-Adriatico, updated

Each sprinter will be a little more secure with his chances on the fast flat finishes with the absence of Marcel Kittel. The standout marquis names remaining are Mark Cavendish (EQS) and Peter Sagan (TSB). Other notable contenders for the flat sprints include Elia Viviani, Ian Stannard, Luka Mezgec, Mateo Pelucchi, Sam Bennett, Pim Ligthart, Sacha Modolo, Mark Renshaw, Nicola Ruffoni, Max Richeze, Lloyd Mondory*, and Fran Ventoso.
Greg Van Avermaet and Daniel Oss of BMC are among the fast finishers who can excel on the tougher, uphill sprint-finish. So are Nikki Terpstra, Zdenek Stybar, Edvald Boasson Hagen, Nathan Haas, Sep Vanmarcke, Pipo Pozzato, Simon Geschke, Jens Debusschere, Jurgen Roelandts, Luca Paolini, Jelle Vanendert, Mathieu Ladagnous, and Daniele Bennati. If Peter Sagan doesn't start to show better results after this race, it may be time to start worrying. The big Classics races he is targeting are right around the corner...
*Lloyd Mondory returned a positive out-of-competition test for EPO in February, so he is scratched.


7 stages: 5 road, 1 TTT, 2 short ITTs (2 days prior to start, the race swaps out the opening TTT for a prolgue TT, citing weather issues).
22 eight-man teams: all 18 WT teams, plus Bardiani, Bora-Argon 18, Team Colombia, and MTN-Qhubeka.


Stage 1: 5.7k Prologue ITT;   22.7k pan-flat TTT.

Stage 2: 153k from Camaiore to Cascina; Flat-ish; Bunch sprint finish.

Stage 3: 203k from Cascino to Arezzo; Flat-ish; Punchy, uphill sprint finish [900m at 5% (11% max at bottom)].

Final kms of stage 3

Stage 4: 218k from Indicatore to Castelraimondo; [Good for escape];
Starts with a short hill at about km10, then flat for 60k; then low rolling until km139; then two big climbs: the Poggio San Romualdo (10k at 7%), and Monte San Vicino (11.5k at 7.1%; tops out at km182, 26k to the finish; 

The San Vicino climb profile, stage 4

After the San Vicino descent, it's up and down to the final categorized climb, which is ridden twice. The Crispiero climb is a steep 3k, with a 15% max near the top. The first ascent tops out with about 19k to go, before the descent, and second ascent. The second and final climb tops out with about 6.25k to go, mostly downhill, until the final few hundred meters uphill to the finish line in Castelraimondo.

The stage-4 finish circuit

Stage 5: 194k MTF from Esanatoglia to the cat-1 Terminillo (up to 1675m up the 2216m-high ski mountain; 16k long at 7.25% average grade).
It's a pretty steady 7-8% until the final km, which flattens out on top. Three other categorized climbs along the way.

Stage 5 profile

The Terminillo, stage 5 summit finish

Stage 6: 210k mostly flat; Bunch sprint, possibly reduced;
Three little bumps in first 150k (just 1 cat'd climb, around km131 (around 5k, maybe around 5%?)). Final 68k mostly flat, 2 laps of a 14.4k circuit, final 4k are pan-flat.

Stage 6 profile

The final TT has very few corners

Stage 7: Pan flat 10k ITT;
Not very technical, very few turns. Almost straight out and back, will favor power TT guys. Malori, Durbridge, and Cancellara should excel.

Overall Route Breakdown:

2 bunch sprints (stages 2 and 6)
1 uphill sprint (stage 3)
1 MTF (stage 5)
1 climby classics/escapee stage (stage 4)
1 long-ish TTT (stage 1)*
2 short, flat ITTs (stages 1, 7)

The opening TTT is important; the winner will probably hold the leader's jersey until stage 4 or 5. The two strongest TTT teams on paper look like OGE (Best GC hope: Yates) and TFR (Mollema). EQS, SKY, TCS, MOV, and AST are capable of limiting time losses in the TTT for their leaders, Uran, Froome, Contador, Quintana and Nibali, respectively. Purito, Pinot, Pozzovivo and Rolland may not be so lucky.

*Stage 1 TTT replaced by ITT Prologue.
Stage 5 is the queen stage with the cat-1 MTF.

Categorized climbs in the 2015 Tirreno-Adriatico


1. Contador  2. Uran  3. Nibali  4. Quintana  5. Mollema  6. Pozzovivo  7. Caruso  8. Monfort  9. Moreno  10. Yates  11. Purito  12. Van Den Broecke

My pick for the overall win: ALBERTO CONTADOR.
Backup pick: Rigo URAN.
Points Jersey pick: Peter SAGAN.

Enjoy the race!

Saturday, March 7, 2015

2015 Paris-Nice Race Preview

2015 Paris-Nice, the "Race to the Sun" is about to get underway tomorrow, so I'll post this brief "preview"…

Last year's winner, Carlos Betancur, is going to Tirreno-Adriatico instead this year. He is coming off of a terrible 2014, where he spent much of the season out with injuries, and probably would not be ready to defend his title here this year anyway. Betancur's AG2R teammate, Romain Bardet will surely have something to say at the race to the sun...

This year's other top favorites include Richie Porte (Team SKY), Michal Kwiatkowski (Etixx-Quickstep), Tejay Van Garderen (BMC), Rafal Majka (Tinkoff-Saxo), Wilco Kelderman (Lotto-NLJumbo), and Fabio Aru (Astana). Some others to look out for include Rui Costa (Lampre), Tony Gallopin (Lotto-Soudal), Geraint Thomas and Bradley Wiggins (SKY), Benat Intxausti and the brothers Izaguirre (Movistar), Mathias Frank (IAM), Tom Dumoulin and Warren Barguil (Giant-Alpecin). (Barguil has said he will probably favor going for a stage win over the General Classification.)


6 Road stages and 2 TTs.
The route is hillier than usual this year, and the Col d'Eze climbing TT returns, on the final stage.

Prologue: 6.7k ITT in Maurepas, flat-ish
Prologue map
Winner: TT specialist, and many are there; Tony Martin, Brad Wiggins, Rohan Dennis, Bob Jungels, Tom Dumoulin...the list goes on (Kelderman, Porte, Zoidl, Chavanel, Boom, Kwiatkowski...), and on. All those mentioned have already shown good form this year. I'm going to pick Wiggins.

Prologue profile

Stage 1: 192k FLAT   
Bunch Sprint; Wind could be a factor, causing splits on the roads to Contres...
W: Sprinter. Take your pick. Some of the best there include Kristoff, Boonen, Greipel, Bouhanni, Rojas, Demare, Swift, Haussler, Coquard, Hofland, Degenkolb, Bonifazio, Nizzolo, Gilbert, Matthews, Dumoulin, Howes, Breschel... I like Kristoff.

Stage 2: 172k FLAT   
Bunch Sprint; [same goes, about the wind]
W: Sprinter. How about Bryan Coquard today?

Stage 3. 179k Low, undulating roads on a slightly jagged profile; with three cat-3 climbs, last one comes with 60+k to go; last little bump inside final 10k;
Uphill sprint finish.

Stage 3 profile

W: Classics specialist/Strong uphill sprinter like Degenkolb, Thomas, Matthews, Gilbert, Maybe Grivko, Bouhanni, Rojas, Bozic...or it could be stolen by an ambitious GC hunter like Richie Porte, Wilco Kelderman, Michal Kwiatkowski, or Tom Dumoulin if the big sprinters can't hold on to the finish. I like Degenkolb.

Stage 4: 204k MTF (Mountaintop Finish);
Longest stage, lots of climbing. Two cat-3 climbs in first 60k; three cat-3s and two cat-2s in final 60k; finishes on cat-1 Croix de Chaubouret (10k at 6.7%, max 9.4%; 1201m).
W: Climber. I like Bardet, Majka, Aru, and Van Garderen, in that order.

Stage 4 profile

Stage 5: 192.5k Escape succeeds?..
Starts with a cat-1 climb (12.2k at 4.5% - biggest climb of the stage) then down to low elev.; Flat till km120; Then a cat-3 at -67k, and a cat-2 with 45k to go, and a final little cat-3 (the Cote de Buisson, 1.8k at 4.3%), then 8.5k to the finish on a steep, [steeper than stage 3]...
punchy, uphill sprint.

Stage 5 profile

W: The strong sprinters' teams should be able to control this stage from Saint-Etiennes to Rasteau, if they choose to. Another one that looks good for Degenkolb, Matthews or Gilbert on paper; but it could just as easily go to anyone who launches a worthy late attack at the right time. Tony Gallopin probably likes this one. I like Gallopin.

Stage 6:182k Mountains; Good for escape;
Lots of climbing, perfect for a strong breakaway to succeed. The top GC guys may or may not want to contest this one for time gains, then again... Three cat-1s and three cat-2s; final descent to finish off of cat-1 Cote de Peille (6.6k at 6.8%), summit comes with 25k to go, almost all downhill to finish [a 30m-high, 500m-long bump tops out with 1k to go. If not the early one, then a late breakaway will probably succeed. If the GC contenders go all out for this stage, then a good descender could run away from the pack on the long, downhill run in to Nice.

Stage 6 profile

W: Richie Porte, Michal Kwiatkowski, Rui Costa, Tejay Van Garderen, Wilco Kelderman, Nico Roche should be favorites here, but I also like several others including Luis Leon Sanchez, now on the beleaguered Astana team, and he is my pick.

Stage 7: 9.6k uphill ITT Col d'Eze (9.6k at 4.7%; flat 1.2k at top);
Richie Porte is my pick for stage 7. Other contenders include Michal Kwiatkowski, Tony Martin, Tejay Van Garderen, JC Peraud, Tom Dumoulin--look for whoever proved to be best on stages 4 and 6. Spilak, Kelderman, Kiserlovski, Bardet, Wiggins, Barguil, Jungels, and some others could also turn in good performances on Col d'Eze. Andrew Talansky would be a natural pick on this stage, but he is beginning his season at PN, and probably doesn't have enough racing kms in his legs to dominate yet.

Ahead of the race, I am picking Richie Porte for the overall win. He is in great form and the route suits him.

Enjoy the race!

2015 Strade-Bianche Race Report and Results

March 7, 2015

The eponymous white dirt/gravel roads of Strade Bianche

200 kms. 11 ranked, dirt sections of varying length and difficulty; finish in Siena.

Dirt road sectors and finish climb for Strade Bianche:
Km / To Go            Climb            Length                  Grade          Max Grade
32 / 168            1  San Leonardo       2.2 km                                               
48 / 152            2  Vidritta                 2.1 km                                               
55 / 145            3  Bagnaia                5.9 km                                               
67 / 133            4  Radi                      4.4 km                                               
78 / 122            5  Str. Com. di Murlo          5.5 km                                               
120 / 80            6  Lucignano d'Asso           9.5 km                                               
147 / 53            7  Monte Sante Marie       11.5 km                                               
175 / 25            8  Monteaperti             0.8 km                                               
181 / 19            9  Colle Pinzuto          2.4 km                                               
187 / 13            10 Le Tolfe                  1.1 km            18 %                       
199 / 1            Siena                              0.6 km            9.2 %            16 %                       


The 2015 race profile

Race report:

[When the race broadcast came online, a four-man break was leading the race.
Arredondo (TFR), Ovechkin (RUS), Colli (NIP), and Fonzi (SOU) had a gap of 1:23 over the chasing peloton, with 65k left to ride.]

The race route on the map
Here's what happened earlier (paraphrasing some from a translation from the official race website):

…Lively pace now, at km3 Pirazzi (BAR), Berlato (NIP) and Arredondo (TFR) attack; they are shortly after joined by Koshevoy (LAM), Colli (NIP), Ovechkin (RVL), Fonzi (SOU) and Lozano (TNN).
At km 11, the eight escapees have a 1'05 gap, ahead of the peloton led by the Movistar men. At km 13 the advantage is 1:47.
At km 19,  5'10, with the group still led by Movistar.
At km 29, the advantage of the eight escapees still grows, and reaches 6'30.
At km 38, 7'18.
Average after an hour of racing: 44.500 km / h

At km 60, the gap is 6'38.
Ruffoni (BAR) retires.
At km 73, the gap is 6'05.
At km 75, 5'40.

Average after two hours Racing: 39.950 km / h.
At km 87, the advantage of the eight escapees drops to 4'26.
At 100 km, 4'15.  HALFWAY Point.
At 105 km, with the peloton still led by Movistar, 3'56.
 The withdrawal of Bongiorno (BAR) should be noted.
At 107 km, 3'43; leading the group are Androni riders.

Average after three hours of racing: 37.650 km / h.
At km 115, 3'55.
At km 120 (beginning of the sixth sector of dirt road), Movistar leads the peloton again, at +2'33 to the break, which now includes Lozano
Piarzzi crashes out.
Gerrans (OGE) abandons. It was his first race of the year, otherwise he would have been a favorite today.
-75 Km: Boom (AST), Rosa (AST) and Sütterlin (MOV) attack from the peloton.
Colli, Ovechkin, Fonzi and Arredondo, lead, A group of nine riders chase the four remaining escapees: Boom and Rosa (AST), Stybar (EQS), Valverde and Sütterlin (MOV), Sagan and Bodnar (TCS), Lozano (TNN), and Berlato (NIP).

-70k: At km 130, the group in pursuit of the four escapees is back together, although very stretched out.
At 134 km, the gap is 1'23.

[Now the broadcasts came online, and my own report commences...]

65k to go: 4 remaining escapees lead the race now: Arredondo (TFR), Ovechkin (RUS), Colli (NIP), and Fonzi (SOU). Their gap is dropping fast.
The early rollout
At -63k the gap is 1:00.
At km 138 (-62k),  the gap is :43.

-56k: km144: The 4 escapees have :44 on the peloton.

-55k: Ovechkin is picked up by the peloton; three leaders in front now.
Onto sector #7, the longest dirt section, the Monte Sante Marie, at 11.5k.
At km 148, the peloton is stretched out in a long single file.
The race sees a flurry of activity as the unpaved path claims tired victims and rewards the intrepid.

Avg speed after four hours of racing: 37.400 km / h.
The erstwhile lead group disintegrates.

Arredondo is going backwards through the peloton; Ovechkin has been spit out the back. Fonzi is fading.
-52k: Pablo Lastras (MOV) and Michael Hepburn (OGE) are seen struggling off the back of the peloton. The rest of the leaders are scooped up.

*-50k: At km 150, Peter Sagan (TCS) leads an escape group off the front, including, Diego Rosa (AST), Greg Van Avermaet (BMC), Zdenek Stybar (EQS), Alejandro Valverde (MOV), Magnus Cort Nielsen (OGE), Nathan Haas (TCG), Sep Vanmarcke (TLJ), and Fabian Cancellara (TFR) escape off the front, shortly after, they are joined by Daniel Oss (BMC); the peloton is at + :10. 
*-47k: Sagan, Stybar, and Valverde get a gap on the rest, to form the current three-man leading group.

At km155, Stybar, Valverde and Sagan remain in the lead, chased by a group of six at about +:20.
Inside 40k to go [At km 162]: After coming off of the long section 7, the 3 leaders are joined by the six chasers, Rosa, Van Avermaet, Oss, Haas, Vanmarcke and Cancellara; a first chase group of twenty-nine riders is at + 1'06.
-37k: The 9 leaders on the road have a gap of 1:14.
-35k: Passing through Siena, the gap to the peloton is 1:10.

The onscreen graphics continue to incorrectly list Nibali as being with the leaders, instead of Rosa.

*The nine leaders on the road are: Sagan, Stybar, Valverde, Rosa, Van Avermaet, Oss, Haas, Vanmarcke and Cancellara.

The road surface, close-up
 -30Km: the group of twenty-nine pursuers is at about + :100 from the nine escapees.
-28k: Vanmarcke accelerates uphill off the front, followed quickly by Oss and Haas, then Stybar, Sagan, Valverde, Van Avermaet...
the leaders then regroup;
-26k:  Oss attacks and gets a gap.
-25k: Oss leads by about :10-:15; the peloton is at :40-:45.

-23.8k: Onto 800m section #8, Monteaperti; Oss has :06 ahead of the eight, and :28 on the group. 
*-22.4k: Vanmarcke attacks the front chase group again, at about the same spot where Sagan made his move last year (2014).  Stybar and Valverde are first on the big Belgian's wheel;
-22k: Vanmarcke catches Oss.

Vanmarcke's sudden burst cracks Sagan, who is now going backwards. He must know his body doesn't have the goods today; he would know, since he was attacked at the same spot where he attacked last year.

Betancur and Stannard have abandoned.

-21k: Oss runs out of steam.
About 20k to go: Haas has been dropped from the lead group.
*The five leaders on the road now are: Vanmarcke, Cancellara, Valverde, Stybar, and Van Avermaet.

Onto sector #9...
19k: Sagan passes Oss on his way to try and bridge back up to the leaders.
Cancellara is struggling, and falls out of the lead group.
Four lead now: Van Avermaet, Stybar, Valverde, and Vanmarcke.

-18k: Oss and Cancellara drop Sagan, and chase at about +:15.
-17k: Valverde sets a furious pace in front.
Back in the peloton, Niemiec launches an attack.
Inside 15k to go, Oss, Cancellara and Rosa are closing on the lead group of four.

-14.6k: Van Avermaet attacks the lead group. They give him a long leash before Stybar accelerates in pursuit, with Valverde and Vanmarcke on his wheel.
Van Av has gone all-in with this move. He is going into all sorts of pain trying to stay away.
Behind, Oss, Rosa and Cancy continue to chase the leaders.

-12k: Stybar and Valverde catch Van Avermaet at the front of the race, while Vanmarcke is sputtering out behind them.
Stybar looks very strong. He has calmly responded to every attack.
-11k: Valverde looks at his two companions, exchanges some dialogue, looks back behind them...he seems nervous.

10k to go: The three leaders Van Avermaet, Stybar and Valverde continue to work together out front.
Vanmarcke chases at about +:14; :27 to Rosa, :35 to Oss and Cancellara, the peloton at 1:22.

-8.5k: :10 gap to the three leaders.
-5k: Van Avermaet, Stybar and Valverde continue to lead. :25 to chase-1 (Vanmarcke); behind the big Belgian, chase-2 is comprised of Rosa, Oss, and Cancellara.
-4k: :16 to Ch1; :45 to Ch2.

-3k: Vanmarcke at :16, Rosa, Oss and Cancellara at :44 with the peloton right behind.
-1.3k: Vanmarcke is closing on the three leaders...
Valverde has continued to look around constantly.
Under the red kite they approach the final little climb before the short drop to the finish line.
I am surprised not to see Valverde attacking here. He's the best climber of the three, on paper at least.

Van Avermaet attacks again!
Valverde cracks!
Stybar follows Van Avermaet and goes over the top, passing the BMC classics specialist, and cruises down to the finish line.
Stybar wins the 2015 Strade Bianche! That is his first win of the season.
Van Av rolls in second, at :01; Valverde has to settle for third place, about :18 back. Vanmarcke is fourth at about :46.

Strade Bianche 2015 Results:

Rider Name (Country) Team
Zdenek Stybar (Cze) Etixx - Quick-Step

Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) BMC Racing Team

Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar Team

Sep Vanmarcke (Bel) Team LottoNL-Jumbo

Diego Rosa (Ita) Astana Pro Team

Oscar Gatto (Ita) Androni Giocattoli

Rigoberto Uran (Col) Etixx - Quick-Step

Fabio Felline (Ita) Trek Factory Racing

Przemyslaw Niemiec (Pol) Lampre-Merida

Giampaolo Caruso (Ita) Team Katusha

Roman Kreuziger (Cze) Tinkoff-Saxo

Angel Vicioso (Spa) Team Katusha

Salvatore Puccio (Ita) Team Sky

Julien Vermote (Bel) Etixx - Quick-Step

Samuel Sanchez (Spa) BMC Racing Team

Damiano Cunego (Ita) Nippo - Vini Fantini

Luke Durbridge (Aus) Orica GreenEdge

Daniel Oss (Ita) BMC Racing Team

Fabian Cancellara (Swi) Trek Factory Racing

Pieter Serry (Bel) Etixx - Quick-Step

Esteban Chaves (Col) Orica GreenEdge

Andriy Grivko (Ukr) Astana Pro Team

Eduard Vorganov (Rus) Team Katusha

Matteo Montaguti (Ita) AG2R La Mondiale

Hayden Roulston (NZl) Trek Factory Racing

Nathan Haas (Aus) Cannondale-Garmin Pro Cycling Team

Filippo Pozzato (Ita) Lampre-Merida

Christopher Juul Jensen (Den) Tinkoff-Saxo

Mathew Hayman (Aus) Orica GreenEdge

Giovanni Visconti (Ita) Movistar Team

Peter Sagan (Svk) Tinkoff-Saxo

Maciej Bodnar (Pol) Tinkoff-Saxo

Mauro Finetto (Ita) Southeast Pro Cycling

Magnus Cort Nielsen (Den) Orica GreenEdge

Francesco Gavazzi (Ita) Southeast Pro Cycling

Elia Favilli (Ita) Southeast Pro Cycling

Damiano Caruso (Ita) BMC Racing Team

Manuele Boaro (Ita) Tinkoff-Saxo

Aleksei Tsatevich (Rus) Team Katusha

Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Astana Pro Team

Manuel Quinziato (Ita) BMC Racing Team

Pavel Kochetkov (Rus) Team Katusha

Luka Pibernik (Slo) Lampre-Merida

Iuri Filosi (Ita) Nippo - Vini Fantini

Jose Rodolfo Serpa (Col) Lampre-Merida

Moreno Moser (Ita) Cannondale-Garmin Pro Cycling Team

Xabier Zandio Echaide (Spa) Team Sky

Marco Fontana (Ita) Italy

Dmitrii Kozonchuk (Rus) Team Katusha

Alexander Porsev (Rus) Team Katusha

Alessandro De Marchi (Ita) BMC Racing Team

Andrei Solomennikov (Rus) RusVelo

Ildar Arslanov (Rus) RusVelo

Alexey Lutsenko (Kaz) Astana Pro Team

Niki Terpstra (Ned) Etixx - Quick-Step

Sonny Colbrelli (Ita) Bardiani CSF

Paul Martens (Ger) Team LottoNL-Jumbo

Andrey Amador (CRc) Movistar Team

Fabio Sabatini (Ita) Etixx - Quick-Step

Ruslan Tleubayev (Kaz) Astana Pro Team

Daniele Bennati (Ita) Tinkoff-Saxo

Pablo Lastras (Spa) Movistar Team

Markel Irizar (Spa) Trek Factory Racing

Ivan Balykin (Rus) RusVelo

Serghei Tvetcov (Rom) Androni Giocattoli

Carlos Verona Quintanilla (Spa) Etixx - Quick-Step

Kristijan Koren (Slo) Cannondale-Garmin Pro Cycling Team

Roman Maikin (Rus) RusVelo

Kristoffer Skjerping (Nor) Cannondale-Garmin Pro Cycling Team

David Lozano (Spa) Team Novo Nordisk

Davide Appollonio (Ita) Androni Giocattoli

Artem Ovechkin (Rus) RusVelo

Dmitriy Gruzdev (Kaz) Astana Pro Team

Enrico Barbin (Ita) Bardiani CSF

Ryder Hesjedal (Can) Cannondale-Garmin Pro Cycling Team

Jasha Sütterlin (Ger) Movistar Team

Svein Tuft (Can) Orica GreenEdge

Lars Boom (Ned) Astana Pro Team

Lloyd Mondory (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale

Rinaldo Nocentini (Ita) AG2R La Mondiale

Daniele Colli (Ita) Nippo - Vini Fantini

Rick Flens (Ned) Team LottoNL-Jumbo

Marco Canola (Ita) UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling

Andrew Fenn (GBr) Team Sky

Manabu Ishibashi (Jpn) Nippo - Vini Fantini

Edoardo Zardini (Ita) Bardiani CSF

Simone Velasco (Ita) Italy

Valerio Conti (Ita) Lampre-Merida

Artem Nych (Rus) RusVelo

Luca Braidot (Ita) Italy

Carlos Betancur (Col) AG2R La Mondiale

Hubert Dupont (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale

Damien Gaudin (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale

Pierre-Roger Latour (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale

Christophe Riblon (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale

Marco Bandiera (Ita) Androni Giocattoli

Tiziano Dall'Antonia (Ita) Androni Giocattoli

Alberto Nardin (Ita) Androni Giocattoli

Franco Pellizotti (Ita) Androni Giocattoli

Gianfranco Zilioli (Ita) Androni Giocattoli

Dario Cataldo (Ita) Astana Pro Team

Enrico Battaglin (Ita) Bardiani CSF

Francesco Bongiorno (Ita) Bardiani CSF

Andrea Piechele (Ita) Bardiani CSF

Stefano Pirazzi (Ita) Bardiani CSF

Nicola Ruffoni (Ita) Bardiani CSF

Brent Bookwalter (USA) BMC Racing Team

Peter Stetina (USA) BMC Racing Team

Ilia Koshevoy (Blr) Lampre-Merida

Manuele Mori (Ita) Lampre-Merida

Maximiliano Richeze (Arg) Lampre-Merida

Enrique Sanz (Spa) Movistar Team

Marc Soler (Spa) Movistar Team

Francisco Ventoso (Spa) Movistar Team

Nicholas Pettina (Ita) Italy

Seid Lizde (Ita) Italy

Giacomo Berlato (Ita) Nippo - Vini Fantini

Alessandro Bisolti (Ita) Nippo - Vini Fantini

Eduard Michael Grosu (Rom) Nippo - Vini Fantini

Antonio Nibali (Ita) Nippo - Vini Fantini

Simon Gerrans (Aus) Orica GreenEdge

Michael Hepburn (Aus) Orica GreenEdge

Adam Yates (GBr) Orica GreenEdge

Petr Ignatenko (Rus) RusVelo

Roman Kustadinchev (Rus) RusVelo

Manuel Belletti (Ita) Southeast Pro Cycling

Giuseppe Fonzi (Ita) Southeast Pro Cycling

Jonathan Monsalve (Ven) Southeast Pro Cycling

Simone Ponzi (Ita) Southeast Pro Cycling

Eugert Zhupa (Alb) Southeast Pro Cycling

Alberto Bettiol (Ita) Cannondale-Garmin Pro Cycling Team

Alan Marangoni (Ita) Cannondale-Garmin Pro Cycling Team

Kevin De Weert (Bel) Team LottoNL-Jumbo

Robert Wagner (Ger) Team LottoNL-Jumbo

Joonas Henttala (Fin) Team Novo Nordisk

Nicolas Lefrancois (Fra) Team Novo Nordisk

Javier Megias (Spa) Team Novo Nordisk

Andrea Peron (Ita) Team Novo Nordisk

Charles Planet (Fra) Team Novo Nordisk

Martijn Verschoor (Ned) Team Novo Nordisk

Christopher Williams (Aus) Team Novo Nordisk

Elia Viviani (Ita) Team Sky

Christian Knees (Ger) Team Sky

Ian Stannard (GBr) Team Sky

Juraj Sagan (Svk) Tinkoff-Saxo

Matteo Tosatto (Ita) Tinkoff-Saxo

Julian Arredondo (Col) Trek Factory Racing

Yaroslav Popovych (Ukr) Trek Factory Racing

Jasper Stuyven (Lux) Trek Factory Racing

Calvin Watson (Aus) Trek Factory Racing

Gianluca Brambilla (Ita) Etixx - Quick-Step

Ruben Zepuntke (Ger) Cannondale-Garmin Pro Cycling Team

The 2015 Strade Bianche final podium