Strade Bianche review: Magnificent Moser

Strade Bianche logo 2013The stunning Strade Bianche race took place in the rolling hills and on the gravel roads of Tuscany today, where an unlikely Italian stole the win on home turf. A perfectly timed attack from talented youngster Moreno Moser saw him hold off the peloton, with his teammate Peter Sagan coming across the line in second place, capping a Cannondale one-two.

Race summary

The victor (image courtesy of Petit Brun/Flickr)

Winner! (image courtesy of Petit Brun/Flickr)

Key to how the race played out was the composition of the day’s main breakaway and the lead they were able to build up. Four riders, Aleksejs Saramotins (IAM), Maxim Belkov (Katusha), Giairo Ermeti (Androni Giocattoli) and Michael Schar (BMC) were allowed to escape, and at one point had an advantage over the peloton of over nine minutes.

With over 50km to go, and with the peloton seemingly reeling the escapees in comfortably, Vacansoleil’s Classics man Juan Antonio Flecha took an interesting decision and attacked off the front. However, it seemed like he’d left himself too much work to do when he still had a couple of minutes to close down with 20km remaining.

Instead, he was just left dangling between the break and the bunch, serving as much of a purpose advertising his team’s title sponsor’s camping holidays as contesting the victory. Astana and Vini-Fantini took up the chase before, with around 17km to go, a solo move came from the 22-year old Trentini Moreno Moser (Cannondale), who only turned professional last season.

He dropped Flecha as quickly as he’d bridged the gap, before setting about capturing the race leaders. While doing so there was some agitation amongst the favourites in the peloton, with Fabian Cancellara (RadioShack Leopard) and Peter Sagan (Cannondale) twitching behind. They weren’t allowed to get a gap.

With 6km to go Moser and the dropped Saramotins hit the front of the race, rejoining the two leaders Belkov and Schar, with Ermiti now chucked out of the back. Meanwhile back down the road a strong second group had got some time, featuring Tom Jelte Slagter (Blanco), Rinaldo Nocentini (Ag2r La Mondiale), Giampaolo Caruso (Katusha) and Andrey Amador (Movistar).

However, that move didn’t stick, and soon enough things came back together in the group behind. After some initial hesitation as the race came into the stunning surroundings of Siena, Moser stopped glancing behind at the remnants of the peloton and attacked. Soon enough, he was all alone going up the final ramp.

Despite his burning legs he managed to make the move stick, coming across the line with a five-second advantage over teammate Sagan, with Nocentini third.

Analysis & opinion

The victory was an exercise in great strategy from Moser and Cannondale. After the race, Moser stated that he “used Peter for the win,” and it’s certainly true that Sagan played a crucial role in his teammate’s win, without ever actively contributing.

While this may seem odd, it all comes down to the early break and the riders present. BMC brought a strong team to this race, with Greg Van Avermaet and Cadel Evans both possible winners. Therefore, placing their man Michael Schar in the early break put the onus on other teams to do the chasing, while they preserved their energy for a late surge. They were the key team, who would have a vital role in determining how the race played out.

By contrast, RadioShack and Cannondale weren’t as strong, and weren’t really in a position to chase a break down. However, where Cannondale had the key advantage was that they had both Moser and Sagan capable of winning, rather than just one rider. With Sagan a race favourite, he was always going to be a marked man – and this was demonstrated in how he was constantly riding alongside fellow hopeful Fabian Cancellara throughout the day.

This allowed his teammate Moser, to slip off the front quietly with a perfectly timed attack, while the focus was on Sagan’s jousting with Cancellara behind. With BMC not chasing because Schar was still out in the lead group, RadioShack not able to chase with a one-man team and Cannondale not willing to do so with Moser out front, the peloton’s work was left up to Astana and Vini Fantini in the closing kilometres. The big players were simply not involved.

This, ultimately, bought Moser the crucial five seconds which saw him take victory, in an excellent one-two for Cannondale. Something tells me he won’t be able to escape as easily next time.


1. Moreno Moser (Cannondale) 5:01:53

2. Peter Sagan (Cannondale) +0:05

3. Rinaldo Nocentini (Ag2r La Mondiale) +0:07

4. Fabian Cancellara (RadioShack Leopard) same time

5. Aleksejs Saramotins (IAM) s/t

6. Greg Van Avermaet (BMC) s/t

7. Alexander Kolobnev (Katusha) s/t

8. Francesco Reda (Androni Giocattoli) s/t

9. Giampaolo Caruso (Katusha) +0:10

10. Maxim Belkov (Katusha) +0:13

Links: PreviewOfficial website

Il Lombardia photo gallery

It has to be said that Saturday’s race didn’t enjoy stellar weather conditions [masterful British understatement – Ed] but that didn’t prevent one of the locals, friend of VeloVoices Nathalie Novembrini, from following the advice given by some of our professional VeloEyes about what, where, who and how to photograph the professional peloton.

Of course, no trip to any race would be complete without first scouting the team buses. After all, you don’t know who you might bump into, do you?

Cameron Meyer and Nathalie pose for Orica-GreenEDGE’s ‘Call Me’ campaign

No sign of those one-off duck egg blue Bianchi shirts. I suspect the boys are huddled inside trying to stay warm

Obligatory mighty fine bike bling, but where’s their designer? Oh Mario …

After a quick trip round the car park, Nathalie assumed her position behind the barricades to see who she could capture in her viewfinder. As you can see from the subsequent photos, she was standing opposite Alessandro Ballan‘s number one fan.

Here’s one of Kitty’s favourite kits – Farnese Vini – she loves those glowing colours. At least you could see them once the heavens opened and the mists descended

Discarded Carrot! Yes, after many years faithful service. nul points equals no contract for 2013. Please hire Amets, he keeps the TV presenters tongue-tied

Here’s a riders who checked the weather forecast – Astana’s Alexandr Dyachencko

Sorry Andriy [Grivko] but that lovely bright blue national champion’s kit is going to get very dirty, yes it is.

Nathalie has a penchant for young Italian riders with firm jaw lines, here’s Gabriele Bosisio

Here’s another one, Giairo Ermeti whose name – it has to be said – sounds like some unfortunate medical procedure.

One of the more mature riders in the peloton, Matteo Tosatto

Former rider Maurizio Fondriest and (one assumes) his missus

Nicki Sorensen, who played a part in one of the many breaks of the day

One of the Rabo boys wrapped up warmly, ready to face the onslaught

The Italians were hoping that Vincenzo Nibali might get onto the podium

Orica-GreenEGGs and Ham rider loaded and ready for bear

As you may have guessed by their size, some of the photos have been edited to exclude heads and hands which inevitably seem to get in the way when you’re taking photographs from a less than optimal position.

Everyone wanted a piece of the newly-crowned world champion, Fast PhilGil before the start of the race

Fortunately Phil’s well on the road to recovery after his fall which saw him pick up a nasty case of road rash and ruined that spotless white jersey.

Giro del Piemonte winner Rigoberto Uran was equally courted before the start

I still think Rigoberto looks older than 25!

It’s at times like these those brown shorts come into their own, shame about the largely white shirt

Then it’s into the car and off to the finish to wait for the arrival of the winner who’ll be crowned here:

This was the podium in the case of Plan A – no rain

Or here:

This was Plan B

And here he comes through the gloaming … it’s …

You can just see the race winner Joaquim Rodriguez appearing through the curtain of rain

Nathalie, thank you so much for sharing your photos with us and proving that with a wee bit of ingenuity, everyone can get some great photos at the races!