Race: Strade Bianche
Total Distance: 176 kilometers
Race Class: 1.HC
Team Novo Nordisk is ready to take its second start at Strade Bianche when the race kicks off in Italy on Sunday, March 6. In its 10th edition, the one-day race has been dubbed the “Northern Classic in the South of Europe” and is best known for its iconic white dirt road sections and the finish in front of the Piazza del Campo.
“The team has made a notable improvement since last year and a race like Strade Bianche tends to be very open,” Team Novo Nordisk Senior Vice President of Athletics Vassili Davidenko said. “The team is ready for bigger challenges this year. We are bringing in guys who have some experience at this race and we hope for good weather and good luck. I know we can put down a strong performance at Strade.”
The race, which is starting for the first time in front of the imposing Medici Fortress in Siena, features 18 teams, including 12 World Tour teams. The UCI 1.HC race features nine gravel sections comprising 52.8 kilometers over the 176 km course.
Team Novo Nordisk is sending an eight-man roster including Kevin De Mesmaeker (BEL), Joonas Henttala (FIN), Brian Kamstra (NED), David Lozano (ESP), Javier Megias (ESP), Andrea Peron (ITA), Charles Planet (FRA) and Martijn Verschoor (NED). De Mesmaeker, Kamstra and Planet are making their Strade Bianche debuts; this also serves as De Mesmaeker’s first race of the 2016 season.
“We had many flats last year and the weather condition was a major factor, particularly the strong wind,” Davidenko said. “The goal is to be in the breakaway and provide the best support for Javier and Charles towards the end of the race.”
Often compared to the rough cobblestones of the northern classics in Belgium and France, Strade Bianche offers a unique set of challenges to the peloton. The first dirt section begins barely 10 km from the start. Halfway through the course, riders have to tackle the climb up to Montalcino, take on strong winds and get over a final cobbled section up to the Piazza del Campo.
David Lozano, an 11-time Spanish cyclocross and mountain bike national champion, made an impressive showing at last year’s race by featuring in the day’s main breakaway until a poorly timed mechanical forced him back into the peloton. The 27-year-old has started the 2016 season with solid form, which showed when he spent the day in the breakaway on Stage 3 of the Dubai Tour and was one of the final riders caught on the summit finish up the Hatta Dam.
“Last year, I learned that if you are in the front, the technical parts are much easier. Yet we know the breakaway isn’t always possible, so we know that we need to race much closer to the front of the bunch this year,” Lozano said. “As for my goals, I will try to be in the breakaway and if I can’t be there, I will try to be at the front of the race as much as I can.”
Team Novo Nordisk Roster Strade Bianche (March 5)
Kevin De Mesmaeker (BEL), Joonas Henttala (FIN), Brian Kamstra (NED), David Lozano (ESP), Javier Megias (ESP), Stephen Clancy (IRL), Charles Planet (FRA), Martijn Verschoor (NED).
Sport Director: Massimo Podenzana (ITA).