Michal Kwiatkowski beats Peter Sagan to win Strade Bianche
Polish champion drops Cannondale man on final climb in Siena, Alejandro Valverde third
Michal Kwiatkowski of Omega Pharma-Quick Step has won the eighth edition of the Strade Bianche in Siena this afternoon, dropping Cannondale's Peter Sagan on the toughest part of the ascent of Via Santa Caterina in the final kilometre of the race. Movistar's Alejandro Valverde led a four-man chasing group across the line to clinch fourth.
Polish champion Kwiatkowski was the only rider who managed to react when Sagan launched his attack with a little more than 20km still to ride, just after the group they were in had bridged across to a six-man front group including Teal Sky's Ian Stannard and Cadel Evans of BMC Racing.
Movistar's Alejandro Valverde went off the front of the group in pursuit of the lead pair with around 10km left to ride, and was subesquently joined by Tinkoff-Saxo's Roman Kreuziger, former winner Fabian Cancellara of Trek Factory Racing, and Lampre-Merida's Damiano Cunego.
The quartet never looked like pulling Kwiatkowski and Sagan back, however. Sagan, second last year to his team mate Moreno Moser, let Kwiatkowski onto the final climb towards the line in Siena's Piazza del Campo, but had no response when the Pole made his race-winning move.
Clear skies meant that the riders didn’t have to contend with mud on the 10 sections of white gravelled roads that give the race its name. The flipside of that, however, was that dry conditions meant that dust was kicked up from the surface of those stretches, and on a twisting parcours strong winds also caused problems.
Four riders had got away early on in the 200km race from San Gimignano - Marco Frapporti of Androni Giocattoli, Baridani CSF's Marco Canola, Davide Frattini from UnitedHealthcare and Andrea Fedi of Neri Sottoli-Yellow Fluo.
Their break was over with a little under 50km left to ride, Angelo Pagani of Bardiani CSF going on the attack and taking a number of risks as he pushed himself hard, but he too would be brought back as Stannard forced the pace in the bunch.