After last weekend’s season-opener in Belgium we turn to Italy with the Strade Bianche and Roma Maxima taking centre stage on Saturday and Sunday. Undoubtedly one of the most beautiful finishes in pro cycling these days, the Strade Bianche covers rolling hills across Tuscany, taking in the white roads with a spectacular finish in the Piazza del Campo in Siena.
Last year Moreno Moser took victory after putting in a serious dig on the steep roads as the leading group entered through the city walls leaving Peter Sagan and Ronaldo Nocentini to fill the podium.
We’d expect the same riders to be in the mix again and the odds reflect this. Many will be picking Sagan but there’s little value there while Cancellara remains a bit of an unknown so far in 2014. Pozzato will be there come the end while Kolobnev could be a great outside bet as the terrain suits him and he finished 7th last year.
A visibly frustrated Luca Paolini at Kuurne-Bruxelles-Kuurne should work well with Kolobnev for Katusha so we’d certainly expect to see one or both reaching Siena in contention.
However, Valverde has been in superb form so far this season and we think he’ll carry this through to victory on Saturday afternoon.