Cycling is slowly coming out of its winter hibernation and the first spring classic of the season is already upon us: the 2023 Strade Bianche. This famous one-day cycling race will take place this Saturday, March 4, in Italy and has been long awaited by avid cycling fans. But the Strade Bianche is not the only popular one-day race on the professional cycling calendar. The Tour of Flanders is also high on the list of both riders and fans. Both races have their own unique characteristics and challenges that make them beloved by the public. But what exactly are the differences between these two races?
In this blog, we will delve into the characteristics of both the Strade Bianche and the Tour of Flanders and compare the two races to discover what makes them so unique and why they are so popular among the cycling community.
The Strade Bianche is relatively new to the cycling calendar, with the first edition held in 2007. The race takes place in Tuscany, Italy, and is known for its unpaved roads and steep climbs. The Strade Bianche course is 184 kilometers long and includes 11 sections of unpaved roads. The most famous section is the “sterrato,” a 9.5-kilometer gravel road known for its challenging and sometimes treacherous conditions. Often seen as the start of the cycling season, the Strade Bianche is popular with riders looking to test themselves on unpaved roads and steep climbs. So what makes the Strade Bianche so popular? Literally translated into Dutch, it means “White roads. The Strade Bianche is ridden through an area that is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, which makes for great images on television.
The Tour of Flanders, on the other hand, has been a fixture on the cycling calendar since 1913. The race takes place in Belgium and is known for its long, tough and challenging course. The Tour of Flanders is 267 kilometers long and includes more than 18 hills and cobbled sections. The most famous incline is the Muur van Geraardsbergen, a steep climb known for its legendary status and challenging nature. The Tour of Flanders is popular with riders who enjoy long and tough courses and is known as one of the most prestigious one-day races in cycling. In Flanders, the race is sacred; it is almost a national holiday. Should you have ever experienced an Elfstedentocht, it is fairly similar to what De Ronde confesses to the Flemish.
The Strade Bianche and the Tour of Flanders each have their own unique history and traditions. The Tour of Flanders is considered one of the five monuments of cycling, along with Milan-San Remo, Paris-Roubaix, Liège-Bastogne-Liège and the Tour of Lombardy. The Strade Bianche, on the other hand, is a relatively new race that is rapidly gaining popularity.
Who will win the first major spring classic of 2023? Tadej Pogačar (2022 winner) and Wout van Aert are not there, Mathieu van der Poel is. All eyes are on Mathieu as the favorite. The Dutchman has had a strong preparation and will soon have to prove it through the Italian gravel. MvdP has only been at the start twice before, but let it be known in previous years that the course suits him like a glove. In 2021 Mathieu won by a scorching attack on the decisive final climb to Siena.