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An amazing victory for Mathieu van der Poel
Alaphilippe gets second, Bernal third, and van Aert leaves the other pursuers in his dust for fourth.
Evenepoel: I need to improve to challenge Pogacar, Roglic, Bernal
A stunning finish to an incredible edition of Strade Bianche.
Alaphilippe can't follow him either
As hard as the world champion tries, the race just got away from him
Another attack from van der Poel
It's over for Bernal.
They have a good long look at one another...
Then van der Poel attacks.
We're onto the cobbled streets of Siena now.
4km to go – Van der Poel attacks!
That was another excoriating attack, but Bernal is able to cover it. Just.
Alaphilippe is leaving a gap of a bike length or two, sitting third in the line.
5km to go – Cagey stuff
The win must surely come from these three. It's 17" back to van Aert, Pogacar and Pidcock
7km to go – Gogl loses the wheel
In the chasing group, Gogl is struggling to hold Wout van Aert's wheel.
This is fascinating stuff. How will the finale play out? What route can Bernal take to win against these two powerfully explosive climber-sprinter-puncheur-multi-hyphen marvels?
10km to go – Bernal bridges
A measured, calm and mature response to that attack sees Bernal reel in the leading pair over a couple of kilometres. He's looking great today, just maybe lacking that pure explosivity that van der Poel and Alaphilippe are clearly both capable of today.
The gap to the van Aert group is 14".
12km to go – Explosion!
The leading seven hit 18% gradients there, just as Mathieu van der Poel puts in a ferocious acceleration.
The Dutchman just blew it apart. There are now just two riders in this lead 'group'; him and Alaphilippe. None of the other five could follow.
Next on the road is Bernal, who is halfway between those two and the other four, being led bravely once more by Wout van Aert.
15km to go – Magnificent seven
The chase group is now showing at 1'13" down, so you can rest assured the winner is going to come from this group of seven superstars.
But could it be Bernal?
And they're back in business!
Van Aert has dragged Pidcock and himself back to the leading group. Heroic stuff from the Belgian. But what will those two have left in their lockers?
20km to go – Pidcock seven seconds behind
These are seismic moments. The Alaphilippe attacked and dropped van Aert, and also Tom Pidcock.
The seven has become five. Van der Poel is there, Bernal has hung on with fellow Tour-winner Pogacar, and Michael Gogl for Qhubeka Assos.
25km to go – Three sectors left, WVA dropped?
Not far left, now. The graphics on TV say 27 seconds between the groups now, but it looks way less.
Julian Alaphilippe is out of the saddle and testing out the other guys in this race.
It seems Wout van Aert is the first casualty!
Original King Julian
To my eye, there's one rider in this group looking better than the others
30km to go – Seven in the lead
The front group have re-invested and eked out the gap a bit more, so we won't have the coming-together I just promised. At least not just yet.
Simon Carr looks to be going really, really well in the second group, but they have stopped working together to bring this back.
Our leaders then, are Alaphilippe, van Aert, van der Poel, Pidcock, Bernal, Gogl and Pogacar, with 18 seconds on the chasers.
35km to go – Simmons punctures out of the lead group
The gap now between gaps one and two is just eight seconds, so we should see it come together – and then a flurry of counter attacks.
40km to go – Chasing group working har
A second group on the road is really investing in the chase right now. Kevin Geniets, dropped from the lead group, is there with Bauke Mollema, Tim Wellens, Pello Bilbao, Simon Carr and Jakob Fuglsang.
45km to go – Lull!
That's basically the first brief pause in the chaos that we have experienced today. This SuperSelection® is riding well together and building their gap to the riders behind. They'll secure the victory for this bunch, and then the fun and games will begin, I expect.
Siena, here we come!
Van Avermaet is dropped
Looks like that attack was more of a death throe than a serious attempt to win the race. He has been dropped now on the climb.
The lead group is now Alaphilippe, van Aert, van der Poel, Pidcock, Geniets, Bernal, Gogl, Pogacar and Simmons.
Quite some power.
50km to go – Alaphilippe lights it up!
Oh yeah, real original, Julian.
That move of van Avermaet's making has now been brought back, so Julian Alaphilippe's group is now the first one on the road.
Mathieu van der Poel and Wout van Aert are both there too. As is Tom Pidcock. They have brought back Alaphilippe and we have a very elite selection.
We're onto the toughest sector of the day.
55km to go – Owain Doull makes the move
It's not Pidcock up the front, but rather his compatriot, Owain Doull.
Despite having Kron in the lead group, Lotto are one of the teams looking to control this from the peloton.
Golden Greg gives it the gas!
The world's longest-reigning Olympic road cycling champion* has launched an attack.
Crikey we're still a long way out, but there are clearly some riders who don't want to make life easy.
Plenty of riders have followed van Avermaet, including Asgreen, Tobias Foss, Quinn Simmons and an Ineos jersey, possibly Pidcock.
*no idea if this is actually true, but he's had that gold hat on for at least a decade.
60km to go – Kron powers through the gap
Andreas Kron from Lotto Soudal has had a bright start to the year and he has battled over to the leading pair. The trio at the head of the race now have 15 seconds on the peloton.
We've just seen Davide Ballerini with a puncture. He's been on amazing form so far this year, but he's not the sort of rider who wins Strade Bianche – so it's unlikely Deceuninck will expend any energy to bring him back.
We're seeing an attack from Gianluca Brambilla now, and that is being covered by Deceuninck.
Pogacar back in the bunch now...
The maillot jaune is safely in the bunch after his mechanical / fall.
Here are a few of those hairy moments from earlier on.
65km to go – New leaders, and van der Poel losing the wheel?
Vliegen has been caught and overtaken now by a pair of riders, Gianni Vermeesch (Alpecin Fenix) and Gonzalo Serrano (Movistar).
Meanwhile, we just saw a flash of Mathieu van der Poel losing a place or two in the peloton.
68km to go – Loic Vliegen leading
At the quiet end of the race, Loic Vliegen is now up front alone. Best place to be when there are this many punctures in the main bunch!
The remnants of the break he was a part of at the start of the day are just being caught, and the peloton can be made out in the background of the front-on TV shot.
The Belgian looks as though he's pedalling squares, it must be said. He's really grinding away at the climb.
70km to go – Sterrato causing chaos
As the peloton tackles one of the tougher sections of gravel in the course, we're saying lots and lots of punctures, with riders even ending up on the wrong roads. We might have just seen Tadej Pogacar held up with a flat.
Eros Capecchi oh Bahrain Victorious also has a flat.
85km to go – Messy
We have some tough, tough gravel sections coming up in the immediate future.
There are riders all over the shop and that lead of four minutes the break had? It's gone. Whittled away to less than a minute in the space of 10km.
90km to go – Petilli goes alone
The Intermarché Wanty Gobert rider has set off solo. It's a bold move, Cotton, let's see how it plays out for him.
95km to go – Attacks! No, really
Not going to be much peace for the live bloggers today, I don't think. We're seeing attacks off the front of the peloton already! Kasper Asgreen (Deceuninck QuickStep) looks to cover a move involving Diego Rosa (Arkea Samsic).
Meanwhile two riders have attacked the break, also, including Filippo Tagliani.
Crash for Alex Howes
Nasty looking crash for Alex Howes and one of his EF teammates. We didn't see it happen, but the helicopoter is showing them lying down at the roadside – and they look to be staying down. Let's hope they are ok.
100km to go – Pidcock to play a leading role?
The young Yorkshireman gets the team leader dossard for Ineos for the first time in his career today. More on that, and what Ineos might do in this race, here:
115km to go – Eight up the road
We are just ten minutes away from having live pictures of the race, but I can already tell you we have eight leaders and a gap of around four and a half minutes.
Philipp Walsleben (Alpecin-Fenix), Kévin Ledanois (Arkéa-Samsic), Simon Bevilacqua (Vini Zabù), Simone Petilli (Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert), Samuele Zoccarato (Bardiani-CSF), Tosh van der Sande (Lotto Soudal), Samuele Rivi (Eolo-Kometa), Filippo Tagliani (Androni-Sidermec) are the riders up front.
And welcome to the live blog for the men's Strade Bianche. We've just watched an absolute ripsnorter of a women's race and I am delighter to announce I have finished the washing up!
Feel free to tweet me your thoughts feelings and emotions, as we buckle up for a men's race that will hopefully equal the women's in the excitement stakes.
'Why not?' – Froome can win fifth Tour de France, says Israel Start-Up Nation DS
The Bradley Wiggins Show returns on Monday, with Israel Start-Up Nation sports director Cherie Pridham dropping in for the opening episode.
Pridham said Chris Froome's recovery is "almost 99% done" and talked up his chances of winning a record-equalling fifth Tour de France.
“Why not? It’s one of the instrumental reasons why we brought him on board, you know, to give that a go," she said.
"We’re a long way out still in terms of thinking about the Tour de France, but we are building in the background and I think from what I’ve seen and heard from his coaches, and from the performance team, that you know, he’s on track. Mainly and most importantly, he’s recovering – his rehab is almost 99% done.”
How to watch the event
Strade Bianche 2021 is live on Eurosport.
You and the Eurosport app. You can download the Eurosport app for iOS and Android now.
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