After the great success of the starts of today’s two professional races, the scene is set for tomorrow’s Gran Fondo Strade Bianche. Over the very same course as the women’s pro race the previous day, the Gran Fondo will see 5,000 sportive riders taking on the Strade Bianche of the Terre di Siena, starting at 8.30a.m.
At the start of the sportive race, members of Team Sky will line up, including riders Gianni Moscon and Leonardo Basso and Sport Directors Matteo Tosatto and Dario David Cioni. Next to them are some of the cycling greats of the past and VIPs, such as Paolo Bettini, Filippo Pozzato and Ignazio Moser.
A twisty and undulating course, with no long climbs but with punchy hills – most significantly on the unpaved parts. There are roughly more than 30km of gravel roads across eight sectors (all shared with the Men’s pro race course).
Starting from the Stadium/Medicean Fortress area of Siena, the initial undulating kilometres are on Tarmac before reaching the 2.1km-long gravel Sector 1 at km 18, which is perfectly straight and slightly downhill.
After few kilometres the riders then face Sector 2 (5.8km), the first real challenge with a short descent followed by a long climb with sections of over 10% gradient.
The course then goes through Radi, where gravel Sector 3 starts (4.4km) shortly followed by Sector 4 – named “La Piana” – and one of the race’s classic gravel sectors (5.5km in length, and featured in the course ever since the first edition) with no significant gradient, leading to Buonconvento.
After the passage through Buonconvento the riders will reach the feed station, positioned in the Ponte d’Arbia area. Soon the route reaches Monteroni d’Arbia, which marks the beginning of Sector 5 of San Martino in Grania (9.5km) in the middle of the Crete Senesi. It’s a long sector with continuous up and downs in the first part, ending up with a twisting climb before meeting the tarmac again.
After Castelnuovo Berardenga there’s a very short, flat section of gravel (300m) before riders face, after Monteaperti, Sector 6 – it’s only 800m long, but greets the riders with a double digit gradient ramp before they rejoin the tarmac in Vico d’Arbia and then a paved road through Pieve a Bozzone.
Next comes the penultimate gravel section (Sector 7, 2.4km) on the climb toward Colle Pinzuto, with gradients up to 15%. After a further few kilometres the riders will face the last section of gravel (Sector 8, 1.1km) which features a sequence of a demanding descents followed by a very punchy climb (with a maximum gradient of 18%) that ends up at the Tolfe. From here only 12km separate the riders from the finish in Piazza del Campo, Siena.
The demanding final kilometres, with gradients up to 16%, approach the city of Siena along broad, straight sections of road, connected by sweeping curves, first descents and slight climbs. 2km from the finish line, the route joins Via Esterna di Fontebranda; here the gradient touches 9%.
900m from the finish line, the race route passes beneath Fontebranda Gate where the road surface becomes paving slabs. The gradient then exceeds 10% until 500m from the finish line, reaching its steepest gradient of 16% along Via Santa Caterina. A sharp right hand turn leads to Via delle Terme, and then Via Banchi di Sotto. With 300m to go, the road continues to climb slightly then, 150m from the line, a right turn leads into Via Rinaldini. The route enters the Piazza del Campo just 70m from the finish line. The final 30m descends at a gradient of 7% and the finish line itself, which is flat.