Tough day in Tuscany for the Mitchelton-SCOTT men

Sat 9 Mar 2019

Mitchelton-SCOTT finished with two riders inside the top 20 at Strade Bianche, with Australian time trial champion Luke Durbridge and Dane Chris Juul-Jensen rolling into the Piazza del Campo just ahead of American Brent Bookwalter.

After being unable to get a strong chase organised, the chance for victory slipped up the road when 12 riders broke clear. It came down to three riders to contest the finish in Siena, with Julian Alaphilippe (Decenuninck – Quick Step) taking the win.  

Fast start
After a fast opening 40km of racing, a group of four managed to edge clear and form the day’s breakaway. Their advantage grew out to a maximum of over four minutes before their numbers were halved and it was down to just two escapees at the head of the race.

Back in the peloton the numbers were also dropping as the bunch passed over sector after sector of demanding gravel roads.

The split
The decisive moment came on the longest sector of ’white roads’ when Greg Van Avermaet (CCC Team) launched an attack on the climb on the Monte Sainte Marie section and a group of 12 broke clear.

Unfortunately, Mitchelton-SCOTT were caught at the wrong side of the split and were then forced to try and organise a chase in the group behind.

The leading group worked well together and managed to open up a gap of over one minute, with no coherent chase coming from behind despite the best efforts of Dane Chris Juul-Jensen.

Attacks at the head of the race saw the gap increase further and by the time a leading trio reached 3km to go, it was obvious the race was between those three.

In the end it was Alaphilippe who timed his run to the line perfectly and the Frenchman took the spoils in Siena.

Luke Durbridge:
“Everybody rode really well, we had some really good guys early on, Schultzie was covering all the early moves and then we had Edoardo, Callum and Stannard to help me, Brent and Chris into the final.

"We were all there in a good position, but the attack was just too much for us to go with so it was a bit unfortunate, we would obviously have liked to do better there.

"Brent, Chris and I tried to chase as much as we could with the help from some other teams but we could never really close the gap to the first 15 riders."

"The legs were ok, but I would have hoped for a little bit better to be in that front 15, it’s unfortunate but the boys rode really well for us so we have to thank them."

Gene Bates - Sports Director:
"There's no way to sugar coat it really, we were left lacking today." 

"But considering the guys we had here today, with the new riders who are also very young, they did everything we asked of the up until the 53km to go section, we knew there was going to be a critical point in the race."

"And we were just caught out, one with a bit of positioning and two by just not having that one or two percent extra to be able to go with the move."

"The guys out front worked really well and the gap held the same pretty much all the way to the finish. How they came off that sector at 53km to go was how they went to the finish."

"I think we saw good processes, some good endeavour and good commitment from the team today but we just didn't get the end result we were looking for."

Strade Bianche Results:
1. Julian Alaphilippe (Decenuninck – Quick Step) 4:47:14
2. Jakob Fuglsang (Astana Pro Team) +0:02
3. Wout van Aert (Team Jumbo-Visma) +0:27
18. Luke Durbridge (Mitchelton-SCOTT) +3:15

Photo courtesy of Getty Images.