Attention turns to Italy for Mitchelton-SCOTT and the spectacular Strade BiancheTue 27 Feb 2018
After a strong showing in 2017 Mitchelton-SCOTT return to the white roads of Italy for Strade Bianche at the weekend as the action-packed classics season picks up pace.
Rapidly cementing its position and reputation as a one-day classic to contend with the older monuments, 2018 will be the 12th edition of the UCI WorldTour event and as ever the drama will unfold on the sharp climbs and spectacular white roads of the Chianti region in southern Tuscany.
Former Australian time trial champion Luke Durbridge returns to the race after placing sixth in 2017 alongside Danish strong man Chris Juul Jensen who finished close behind in seventh. They will be joined by Tour Down Under winner and South African national champion Daryl Impey for his first European race of 2018.
Svein Tuft and Michael Hepburn will be on hand for strong support alongside Spanish climber Carlos Verona and Tour of Poland stage winner Jack Haig.
Luke Durbridge (AUS, 26)
Jack Haig (AUS, 24)
Michael Hepburn (AUS, 26)
Daryl Impey (RSA, 33)
Chris Juul Jensen (DEN, 28)
Svein Tuft (CAN, 40)
Carlos Verona (ESP, 25)
With Durbridge only just getting back into racing after crashing and suffering injury over the Australian summer the pressure will not be heavy, but the aim within the team is to be up there when the key moves and splits happen – usually in the second half of the race – and to try to be in a good position for the final.
Luke Durbridge – Sixth in 2017:
“I was pretty happy with how things went at the opening weekend in Belgium last week, technically they were my first races of the season and I was around the mark in terms of awareness and position, but I lacked that extra percent that you need to go with the winners.”
“Getting back into that kind of racing is always quite stressful so I was pleased with my ability to fit back in there and managing to make some of the key moves especially in Sunday at Kuurne. As a team we rode really well and we were fully committed to getting into good positions, the moral within the team is high which bodes well for the big classics in the spring.
“As far as Saturday goes, it’s a beautiful race that I really enjoy and one that has become a classic in its own right, full of that passion you find in Italian one day racing.
“Personally, last year was a good race for me and a good result and I am looking forward to having the opportunity to give it another crack. I feel that having last weekend’s racing under my belt will help and hopefully we can go in there and try to improve in last year’s performance.”
Head sport director Matt White:
“Strade Bianche is a great race and it will be a good hit out for the guys ahead of the big classics in Belgium. We did very well in last year’s edition, but with Luke still on his way back to full strength we will support him and give some other guys freedom to test themsleves."
"It is always a hard race and this year could be very interesting, especially with the cold front that’s hit Europe over the last couple of days.”
A drama filled 2017 edition saw the field split apart after significant attacks over the climbs and dirt road sections formed two or three elite groups that ended up chasing behind eventual winner Michal Kwiatkowski (Team-Sky).
Durbridge and Juul Jensen were part of the second group of chasers and finished in sixth and seventh place respectively just over one minute down on Kwiatkowski.
- Strade Bianche takes place on Saturday 3rd of March and covers 184kilometres around Siena.
Photos courtesy of Getty images.