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Flying Tom Pidcock wins Strade Bianche with audacious 50km attack

The 23-year-old put in a storming ride across Tuscany’s gravel roads to become the first male British winner of the Italian classic

Tom Pidcock cemented his place at the very top of the cycling world today at Strade Bianche, launching an audacious 50km attack and holding off an illustrious if faltering group of chasers across the white gravel roads of Tuscany to become the first male British winner of the prestigious Italian classic.

In a thrilling, nail-biting finale, in which the balance of the race constantly shifted in the closing kilometres, the 23-year-old Olympic mountain bike champion comfortably held on up the narrow, steep streets of Siena to take the biggest road win of his career – and to firmly establish himself as one of the sport’s best riders.

Latching onto an attack from 2019 Tour of Flanders winner Alberto Bettiol and Andrea Bagioli with around 50km to go on the long Monte Sante Marie gravel section, the former world cyclocross champion swiftly dispatched the two Italians in typical, swashbuckling fashion – putting his off-road and descending skills once again to good use as he drifted away from his fellow attackers over Tuscany’s loose gravel.

Highlight reel descending complete, Pidcock’s ride would be a lonely one to the finish. Despite catching the remaining hard-battling survivors of the early break, Alessandro De Marchi and Sven Erik Bystrøm, the Ineos Grenadiers rider steadfastly remained on the front, clawing out a 40 second advantage to the chasing group of favourites.

Tom Pidcock wins 2023 Strade Bianche (Alex Whitehead/

Pidcock makes his way up the fearsomely steep Via Santa Caterina (Alex Whitehead/

With Bystrøm already nestled back in a chasing group, De Marchi was the next to pull the pin on the Monteaperti section with 23km to go, as Pidcock continued to attack every hill with vigour.

Behind, cyclocross rival Mathieu van der Poel, making his 2023 road debut after succeeding Pidcock as world champion last month, looked noticeably lacklustre and off the pace.

A flurry of attacks then saw a six-strong group emerge within sight of Pidcock, which included the Jumbo-Visma pair Attila Valter and the in-form Tiesj Benoot (who visibly showed his frustration at Valter bridging across to the Belgian’s group on one hill), Matej Mohorič, Valentin Madouas, Rui Costa, and Quinn Simmons (who faded dramatically on the final steep gravel section with 12km to go).

When Mohorič and then Valter accelerated hard on that last section of Le Tolfe, it looked like the game was up for Pidcock, whose gap had fallen to below ten seconds and who now appeared to be within spitting distance of, or at least one concerted effort from, his pursuers.

However, cycling’s eternal game of fractious pursuit tactics once again played a key role in deciding the outcome of Strade Bianche. With every brief dig from Benoot or Mohorič during the rolling, deceptively difficult run-in to Siena came a longer, more damning period of respite and – critically – an extension of the British rider’s gap.

Tom Pidcock wins 2023 Strade Bianche (Alex Whitehead/

One last push... (Alex Whitehead/

That doomed game of cat and mouse allowed Pidcock, who looked cooked at one point, a relative procession up the iconic Via Santa Caterina and into the Piazza del Campo where, after an Olympic gold medal, a ‘cross rainbow jersey, and a stage win atop Alpe d’Huez, the man from Leeds once again stamped his name into cycling’s history books.

> Demi Vollering gallops to Strade Bianche win – despite being slowed by runaway horse on course

“This is going to take some sinking in,” Pidcock said at the finish. “When I went, it was really not the plan. That sector is normally the decisive place, so I just rode hard. I got a gap on the descent and I just carried on.

Tom Pidcock wins 2023 Strade Bianche (Alex Whitehead/

Alex Whitehead/

“Honestly, this week I had a good feeling that something good was going to happen today. I knew today was my day. And that the day actually paid off is pretty incredible, honestly. I don’t even know what to think right now.

“A few times they came close, and I thought ah, I’ve messed it up, I’ve gone too early and wasted my shot here.

“The day was so fast all day. I thought if I get a gap and keep going, it’s hard to bring back.”

Ryan joined in December 2021 and since then has kept the site’s readers and listeners informed and enthralled (well at least occasionally) on news, the live blog, and the Podcast. After boarding a wrong bus at the world championships and ruining a good pair of jeans at the cyclocross, he now serves as’s senior news writer. Before his foray into cycling journalism, he wallowed in the equally pitiless world of academia, where he wrote a book about Victorian politics and droned on about cycling and bikes to classes of bored students (while taking every chance he could get to talk about cycling in print or on the radio). He can be found riding his bike very slowly around the narrow, scenic country lanes of Co. Down.

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Rendel Harris | 1 year ago

Absolutely superb from Pidcock, absolutely stupid from the chasers. To get within seven seconds of the leader with 10km to go and then start bickering with each other? No disrespect to Tom to say they could easily have caught him at about 8km out if they'd worked together, then they could have started the cat and mouse. Bloody awesome from Pidcock though. 

Drinfinity | 1 year ago

Fantastic performance! Setting out his stall for the season with such a confident move. 

themuffle | 1 year ago

Both the womens and mens races were just fabulous!

ktache | 1 year ago

Well done Tom.

Really looking forward to seeing what you can do this year.

And in the years to come.

Festus replied to ktache | 1 year ago
1 like

What made the more remarkable was that Tom got no help from the tv camera motorbike unlike the 4 he was chasing and the peloton behind. To many races now are spoiled by motorbikes towing breaks away from the main group, all the have to do is get behind the riders or as in infront of the peleton dont get to close



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