The Strada Bianchi, “White Roads”, Spring Classics mens and womens races are a favourite of ours, they are this coming weekend. The 184km race for the men, 136km for the women start and finish in Siena, Italy.

The normally 68km of white dirt roads for the men, 30km for the women are white for an entirely different reason this year, (watch the video below). “The Beast from the East” storm that has covered much of Europe in a cold snap this week, has blanketed parts of the course in Siena in snow. Sources say, it’s even snowed as far down as the beaches of Corsica.

Sections of the race to watch closely this year include: gravel Sector 8, the Ponte del Garbo (Asciano)  at 11.5km it’s the hardest of the race, it’s mostly uphill with tough punchy hills, the most important section being the Monte Sante Marie, which climbs steep gradients and sharp descents over short distances.

the last sector 11, is 1.1km it features a sequence of demanding descents, followed by a very punchy climb (18 %max) that ends up at the Tolfe. Only 12km from the finish, the strongest riders that are left in the select final group will make their move here.

The final Km, the race route passes under the Fontebranda Gate, where the road surface becomes cobbled. The gradient exceeds 10% until 500m from the finish line, reaching its high point at 16% in Via Santa Caterina. With 300m to go, the road continues to climb slightly. The route then enters the Piazza del Campo just 70m from home, the final 30m descends slightly then the finish line itself is flat.

The technically strong riders to watch this year include: Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe), three-time men’s elite cyclocross world champion and 2015 Strade Bianchi winner Zdenek Stybar (Quick-Step Floors), and current cyclocross world champion Wout Van Aert (Veranda’s Willems-Crelan), Greg Van Avermaet (BMC), Philippe Gilbert (Quick-Step), and Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain-Merida)