SIENA, Italy (AP) — Tom Pidcock soloed to a dominant victory to become the first British rider to win the Strade Bianche on Saturday.
Pidcock’s lead was whittled away on the last of the 11 sections of white gravel roads but the Olympic mountain bike champion used his astonishing descending skills to extend it again in the finale of the 184-kilometer (114-mile) route.
And, after the short but steep finishing climb to Siena’s Piazza del Campo, Pidcock had plenty of time to raise his arms above his head. He crossed the line 20 seconds ahead of Valentin Madouas and 22 ahead of Tiesj Benoot.
“It will take some time for this victory to sink in,” Pidcock said. “When I went, it was not the plan. But it was at a normally decisive moment. I got a gap and I carried on.
“Honestly, this week I had the feeling that something big was going to happen today and it did.”
The day’s breakaway of Sven Erik Bystrøm, Alessandro De Marchi and Iván Romeo stood little chance when Pidcock attacked with around 45 kilometers (30 miles) remaining. The Ineos Grenadiers rider swiftly caught the trio before taking on the final 20 kilometers solo.
Pidcock built an advantage of 20 seconds but that was slashed to just six inside the final 10 kilometers. He managed to stretch it again and the win seemed all but certain on the final section of cobblestones where the gradient reached a leg-breaking 16%.
There was a brutal crash for Alberto Bettiol, who attacked shortly before Pidcock. After lying on the ground for a brief period, he managed to get back on his bike but had to abandon the race shortly afterwards.
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