The white roads of Tuscany welcomed back the Women's and Men's WorldTours at the weekend, as the 2020 cycling season officially started for the second time.⠀
After more than four months without racing, we would have been sated by even the most mediocre match-ups. As it was, both more than met expectations. ⠀
While it momentarily threatened an upset, the women's race ultimately went with form. The only thing Mavi Garcia did wrong was not being Annemiek van Vleuten. On the Le Tolfe sector of gravel, the Dutch great - who, for what it's worth, turns 38 in October - broke free from the chasing pack to go on the lone wolf hunt for the Spaniard. The
Alé BTC Ljubljana rider had herself gone solo with 45km to go.
The pair rode together until the final climb into Siena at which point García had no response to Van Vleuten's inevitable, race-clinching attack. The podium was rounded out by Leah Thomas of Équipe Paule Ka. The American, who won the inaugural Tour of Scotland last year, took the final stage of the Setmana Ciclista Valenciana in February.⠀
In the men's race it was third time... not lucky, exactly, for Wout van Aert, but the Jumbo certainly fared better than some of his rivals in that respect, as he marched towards the top step of the podium, having finishing third in the race's two previous editions. The Jumbo Visma rider was one of seven at the front after Monte Sante Marie and always looked the most comfortable of the septet. None of them wanted it to come down to a final climb fight, making for attacks galore in the closing quarter of the race. Van Aert's was the only one that stuck, however, as he went alone with 13km to go. He arrived in the Piazza del Campo with a lead of thirty seconds and one of the biggest wins of his career.⠀
On the ground for Rouleur was photographer Paolo Ciaberta.
Fail to prepare and you prepare to fail. Only so much riders can do when Annemiek van Vleuten's on a day, though.
Mask up. Annabel Fisher and Katharina Hechler of Cogeas-Mettler Pro Cycling Team
CCC Liv control the pace in the women's race.
Spanish national champion Lourdes Oyarbide of Movistar was among the majority of non-finishers.
What's the Italian for "el scorchio"? Elena Pirrone of Valcar-Travel & Service finished the race in 36th place, 11 minutes behind the winner.
Where there's smoke there's 🔥... (P.S. Am I allowed to include emoji in copy? Guess I'll soon find out 🤷♂️)
Not a ghost.
Not the easiest day on the bike Nico Roche has ever had. The Irishman was one of more than 100 riders classified as DNF on the day.
With Deceuninck Quick Step's Bob Jungels another. And who can blame them? The mercury rose came close to 40 degrees on Saturday.
Making the feats of those who stayed on their bikes even more impressive. Alex Dowsett was the only British rider to make it to Siena inside the time limit.
Punctures put paid to Julian Alaphilippe's defence of the title he won more than a year ago, in somewhat cooler conditions.
Wait, is that MVDP? The peloton pushes on
Not an easy day on your own but there are worse places to ride, eh?
TWe'll always have Tuscany