Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka managed to turn things around and finish the Italian World Tour race strongly despite an unfortunate start.
Saturday’s Strade Bianche, with its 11 iconic sections of white gravel roads, turned out to be just as thrilling as anticipated. Scott Thwaites and Edvald Boasson Hagen both put up an impressive performance at the front of the race but at the end, it was Michal Kwiatkowski (Team Sky) who soloed away to take the win. Thwaites crossed the line in 10th place.
An early breakaway of six riders built up a significant gap during the first part of the race. As the group took on the fifth sector of gravel roads, it had over seven minutes on the peloton, which had been taking it fairly easy up until this point. However, that all changed shortly after as a big crash took place near the front of the pack. Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka had multiple riders involved, including the team’s three protected leaders Nathan Haas, Boasson Hagen and Thwaites. The crash caused the peloton to split up with many of the pre-race favorites in a select group ahead of the main chase.
Thanks to impeccable help from their teammates, Boasson Hagen and Thwaites managed to bridge the gap to the group of favorites with 50 km left to go. From here on out, the front riders constantly attacked, trying to get away. Boasson Hagen followed the first dangerous moves but as the group took on the final sections of gravel roads, our Norwegian champion run out of energy due to his earlier efforts, coming back from the crash. Thwaites continued to fight hard and slowly but surely, the 27-year-old Brit made his way back towards the front to finish the race with an impressive Top10 result.
Scott Thwaites – Rider
“The wind and rainy weather conditions made for a very hard race. The team rode well and we were just where we wanted to be early on. We were just unlucky with that big crash. Afterwards, we made a huge effort to come back to the front group and unfortunately, we paid the price for that when the favorites started attacking. I managed to get 10th place, which is a good start and gives me confidence for the coming races. With a bit more luck, I think we can do better in the next classics”.
Alex Sans Vega – Sports director
“At the beginning, the race worked out pretty much how we wanted it to. Looking at the weather this morning, seeing the rain and the strong winds, we already knew that the race could open up earlier than usual and that’s exactly what happened around sector five. The guys did a big effort to come back and Edvald and Scott ended up in the front group as we had hoped for. With Scott making Top10 in his first appearance in the race, and looking back at how the race unfolded, we have to be satisfied with our performance today”.