Strade Bianchi baby! The white roads of Tuscany get another run on the Pro Tour today. This is a relatively new one day classic, and an Italian take on the cobbled classics of the legendary Belgian spring. Instead of cobblestones, we have hard-packed clay sectors where moves are made, races are won and all the cool photos are taken.
This area is also the scene of THAT stage of the Giro in 2010 when Cadel rode Vinokourov off the wheel.
The weather that day was filthy: torrential rain and very cold, making work on the clay treacherous to say the least.
The weather at this time of the year is less wet, or at least has been for this particular race, but the clay is still where the decisive moves are made.
The finale up into the main square of Siena is steep and very difficult at the end of a long day, making this a race for strong men who can punch up tough, short climbs at speed.
Gilbert won it last year, Cancellara has been a force here regularly and Hesjedal has consistently been at the business end of the show.
The start list this year has some surprises — Millar returning could be interesting: Dave is an enormous threat when he’s on form; BMC are fielding a ludicrously strong squad; and the Italians will invariably have someone contesting at the pointy end of the race.
My money is on Gilbert from Ryder, with Sagan just dropping off the pace on the final kick.
Will be a great race. I only wish that I could be there!
Read more from Toby at his blog, Tobblogganing.