Strade Bianche 2024 men: preview, contenders, and prediction

There's another sensational line-up of riders headed to Strade Bianche this year, but can anyone topple the returning Tadej Pogačar?

Following the back-to-school atmosphere of Opening Weekend, where rivals and acquaintances of old were renewed for a double-header of races on the cobbled roads of Flanders, this upcoming weekend sees the first top tier event of the season — Strade Bianche. 

There’s been much talk in recent years regarding whether Strade Bianche should be considered a cycling ‘Monument’, a debate that has been hindered by the nebulous application of that label to the five Classics that have been given it, based on an undefined mixture of tradition, difficulty, length, and even just vibe. 

In any case, what’s certainly true is that the Italian race through the Tuscan vineyards is a thrilling, beautiful spectacle that poses a unique test with its gravel roads, and always attracts a prestigious start list of top stars who have come to count it as one of their top priorities of the whole season. 


Thoughts of attaining Monument status may have been on the organisers’ minds when they chose to increase the length of this year’s edition. For the first time ever, Strade Bianche will exceed 200km, with the addition of an extra loop containing some of the key gravelled sector extending the 2024 edition to 215km. The race had already been just as selective as the Monuments, more often than not being won by solo attackers and haggard riders reaching the finish in ones and twos, but these changes are set to make it even harder.

The lengthy, uphill seventh and eighth gravel sectors of San Martino in Grania and Monte Sante Maria respectively look likely to fulfil their usual role of instigating the first significant selections of the race, but this time will be followed by over 70km more to race, featuring seven more sectors. Chief among them will be the 2.4km Colle Pinzuto and 1.1km Le Tolfe, two hazardous stretches of gravel and steep gradients that will now both be tackled twice, prior to the now-iconic climb up to the finish at Piazza del Campo in Siena’s mediaeval town centre. 

While certainly more difficult, it remains to be seen what these changes will have on how the race unfolds. As has been the case with other Classics that have been altered to become harder, it could be that the 2024 is a more attritional affair than we’re used to, with the race decided by how long riders can hang on the back of the peloton rather than daring attacks from out of it. For the Monte Sante Maria to once again provide the springboard for the race-winning solo attack, as it did both last year and in 2022 for Tom Pidcock and Tadej Pogačar respectively, a rider will now have to ride 70km, rather than 40km, after its completion to the finish. Will that prove to be too long an effort, or will the modern trend for successful long-range attacks continue to prevail?


Tadej Pogačar

He’s back! Such is the relish with which Tadej Pogačar races, it’s surprising to see him wait until March to make his bow for the 2024, but the Slovenian is limiting himself to a lighter Classics program this spring (Milan-Sanremo and Liège-Bastogne-Liège are the only other races to make the cut) as he saves himself for a tilt at the Giro / Tour double later this year.

Tadej Pogacar Strade Bianche 2022

He was unstoppable when he last rode Strade Bianche in 2022, riding away from everyone 50km from the finish for a stunning solo victory, and in the years since developed into an even more accomplished Classics rider, winning each of the Tour of Flanders, Amstel Gold Race, La Flèche Wallonne and two more Il Lombardia titles. He’s the man to beat, for sure. 

Tom Pidcock

Twelve months ago, Strade Bianche was the setting for what was (along with his Tour stage win atop Alpe d’Huez) Tom Pidcock’s greatest triumph on the road to date, when he rode away from the field to claim a breakthrough solo victory. With its steep ramps that complement his climbing skills, and dirt roads that partially resemble the cyclocross courses the former world champion excels at, Strade Bianche is possibly the one-day Classic that most suits Pidcock, and he’s shown promising form going into it having placed sixth overall at the Volta ao Algarve and eighth at Omloop Het Nieuwsblad. With a strong Ineos Grenadiers team featuring former multiple winner Michał Kwiatkowski, Egan Bernal, Magnus Sheffield and even Geraint Thomas, a repeat victory could be on the cards. 

Matej Mohorič

Having started the season in form with a trademark downhill attack to win a stage at Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana and been strong during Opening Weekend, and as an all-rounder who’s competitive in virtually every Classic he rides and is now in the peak years of his career, Matej Mohorič must be considered among the top favourites for victory.

Matej Mohoric Strade Bianche 2023A difficult rider to pigeonhole, on one hand he appears particularly well-suited to the rough roads of Strade Bianche having been crowned the world gravel champion last autumn, yet he hasn’t a great record at this race — although he did register a career-best finish of fourth last year, which he believes could have been better still had his fellow chasers worked harder to bring the winner Pidcock back. 

Julian Alaphilippe

Following a tumultuous few days in which he has involuntarily been in the headlines after becoming the latest target of Soudal–Quick-Step manager Patrick Lefevere’s latest obnoxious public criticism, Julian Alaphilippe is hoping to let his legs do the talking at Strade Bianche. He has tasted the highs and lows of this unique race, from triumphantly winning on debut in 2019 to memorably somersaulting from his bike in a spectacular crash at the 2022 edition, and clearly has the pedigree to win — the question is whether, at the age of 31, he is able to return to his best following a difficult, fitness-blighted couple of seasons. Yet another crash at Omloop Het Nieuwsblad on Saturday was a bad sign, but he showed some signs of form the following day at Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne. 

Ben Healy

One of the most intriguing looking line-ups for Strade Bianche will be EF Education-EasyPost, from which either of accomplished all-rounders Nelson Powless and Alberto Bettiol, and possibly even climbing specialist Richard Carapaz, could be contenders. But given his breakthrough 2023 season, and a promising start to this season which has already seen him place fourth overall at both Etoile de Bessèges and Volta ao Algarve, the team’s best bet may be Ben Healy. There is certainly no doubting the Irishman’s climbing legs on punchy hills like those in Strade Bianche given his high placing at the Ardennes Classics last year, but he is unproven on this kind of road surface having only ridden (and failed to finish) Strade Bianche once before. 

Other contenders:

Visma-Lease a Bike might not be bringing their main man Wout van Aert, but still boast a line-up stacked with talent, notably Strade Bianche specialist Attila Valter, an in-form Sepp Kuss (who impressed on dirt roads to finish sixth at Clásica Jaén earlier this month), and Christophe Laporte, although this classic may prove a little too hilly for him.

Groupama-FDJ will also be a force to be reckoned with, as the experienced Stefan Küng and young Romain Grégoire, who impressed so much to finish eighth here last year, rally behind Valentin Madouas in his bid to go one better than the runner-up finish he managed last year. 

Valentin Madouas Strade Bianche 2023

In-form riders like Tour des Alpes-Maritimes winner Benoît Cosnefroy (Decathlon AG2R La Mondiale) and Ruta de Sol winner Maxim Van Gils (Lotto Dstny) have the profile to potentially go here, while Julian Alaphilippe’s Soudal–Quick-Step teammate Kasper Asgreen must be considered a contender based on his third-place finish here in 2022, if he recovers from his crash at Het Nieuwsblad.  

Finally, one of the most interesting aspects of Strade Bianche is watching climbing Grand Tour specialists test themselves in unfamiliar conditions, and in this sense it will be fascinating to see if Simon Yates (Jayco-Alula) and Dani Martínez (Bora-Hansgrohe) can translate their winning form from the Alula Tour and Volta ao Algarve respectively onto the white roads of Tuscany. 


Strade Bianche is a race where the cream tends to rise to the top, so with this in mind it’s difficult to see past another Tadej Pogačar win. With a quality UAE Team Emirates line-up featuring the likes of Juan Ayuso, Marc Hirschi and the in-form Tim Wellens to support him, and with no problems riding the gravel roads, he doesn’t appear to have any weakness. Perhaps the only doubt is his form, given he has yet to race this year, but the Slovenian is a rider who tends to hit the ground running and is rarely, if ever, known to look rusty.

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