Van der Poel completes Dutch double in Strade Bianche

Emmeline MOORE
·3 min read
Leaving his rivals in the dust: Netherlands' Mathieu van der Poel of Alpecin-Fenix won the Strade Bianche in Siena.

Mathieu van der Poel powered to victory in the Strade Bianche one-day classic men's cycling race on Saturday with a solo finish on the Piazza del Campo in Siena to complete a Dutch double after Chantal van den Broek-Blaak won the women's race.

The Alpecin-Fenix team rider pulled ahead on the Via Santa Caterina climb with 740 metres to go and crossed the line five seconds ahead of France's world road champion Julian Alaphilippe with Colombian Egan Bernal third, 20sec adrift.

"This is an iconic race and I really wanted to win it," said van der Poel who became the first Dutchman to win after clocking 4hr 40min 29sec over 184km on the famous white dirt rounds around Siena.

Earlier, Van den Broek-Blaak won the women's race, in which three cyclists from the Netherlands finished in the top four.

"Strade Bianche is one of the most difficult races to win because there are so many good riders, including strong climbers like (Tadej) Pogacar and Bernal," continued van der Poel.

"It doesn't happen often to find so many champions, including GC riders, fighting for victory in a one-day race."

In the final gravel road sector, Van der Poel turned on the gas with a monstrous uphill attack with only Alaphilippe and Bernal keeping pace.

The race was played out between the trio, with Van der Poel again attacking with four kilometres to go, before finally losing Alaphilippe and Bernal on the narrow winding streets of Siena.

The 26-year-old picked up his second success this season after the first stage of the UAE Tour following his cyclo-cross victories over the winter with 10 wins including the world title.

"I felt pretty good, I launched an attack on the last gravel section and I came with Bernal and Alaphilippe in the lead," explained van der Poel.

"We did a pretty strong ride the three of us. I felt I had something left in the legs to go all out on the last climb, and amazing to finish it off in this way."

Van der Poel stays in Italy to compete in next week's Tirreno-Adriatico stage race before the Milan-San Remo later this month.

- Van Aert, Pogacar lose out -

There was disappointment for Belgian race favourite Wout Van Aert, with last year's winner finishing fourth at 51 seconds, the first time he has failed to make the podium in four appearances.

Tour de France champion Pogacar of Slovenia finished seventh.

Bernal, the 2019 Tour de France champion, was happy to finish on the podium.

"It's a bit of a surprise for me to make the top three because I'm not a specialist of one-day races," said the Colombian.

"The finale was just a question of having the legs."

Van den Broek-Blaak won the 136km women's race, depriving fourth-placed countrywoman Annemiek van Vleuten of a third consecutive title.

The 31-year-old former road race world champion finished seven seconds ahead of Italy's 2017 race winner Elisa Longo Borghini.

"This is unexpected. Wins like this one are the best ones in cycling," she said.

"The finale went very quick. I was in front in a small group with some other teammates. It was my job to attack.

"My team told me to sit back in Elisa's wheels. While Elisa was using up a lot of energy I managed to stay with her and eventually drop her on the last climb."

Dutch teammate Anna van der Breggen crossed nine seconds behind the winner in third.