• UCI World Champions, Peter Sagan (Tinkoff) and Lizzie Armitstead (Boels-Dolmans) at Strade Bianche presentation (RCS Sport/ANSA/ANGELO CARCONI) (RCS Sport)Source: RCS Sport
While neither have won the Strade Bianche, last year's road world champions Lizzie Armitstead (Boels-Dolmans) and Peter Sagan (Tinkoff) were the only riders in attendance at the pre-race press conference yesterday, unlikely to relieve pressure on the pair.
By
Cycling Central

Source:
RCS Sport
5 Mar 2016 - 11:12 AM  UPDATED 5 Mar 2016 - 11:19 AM

The 26 year-old Sagan has finished second twice in the past two years and when he spoke to assembled media about being a targeted rider, he appeared frustrated.  

"People suggest that I should race in a more conservative way, but try to hide with this jersey! How?" he said. 

He rightly shrugged off finishing behind Greg van Avermaet (BMC) at the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad last weekend to not having as much race days in the legs as the Belgian. This was evident in the finale, after earlier dominant pacing by Sagan. He is more optimistic about today's race. 

"I haven’t raced much this year yet but I had a try in Belgium last week, so I already have two races in the legs.

"If it rains as the forecast says, it’s going to be a very hard race. I have more important objectives ahead this year, but tomorrow’s race is also important. Whatever happens, I'm glad to take part in this beautiful event.

"I like to ride my bike on gravel roads more than on the asphalt. I’ve come second here twice, I’ll try my best once again tomorrow," Sagan said. 

If Sagan's "try" was a second in a tough race over Belgian cobbles to another perennial bridesmaid, then his "best" is likely to be another good show in the self proclaimed "Northern Classic in the South of Europe." 

 

Strade Bianche: iconic scenery plus a deep field equals great racing
It may only be the 10th edition of Strade Bianche, but the race has already built a reputation matching the best of the Classics.

After her first major win in the rainbow jersey coming last week at Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, Armitstead is less pressured than Sagan.

"I have a lot of goals this year, it’s going to be a long and hard season, so I don’t want to put too much pressure on myself in the early part. Obviously [after winning the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad] the legs are good. Whether it’s me or a team-mate, we have to win," Armitstead said.

SBS will broadcast and stream the Strade Bianche LIVE on Saturday 5 March from 2345 - 0145 AEDT and online here at Cycling Central. This includes a highlights package of the women's race. 

The women's race is in just its second year, with Armitstead crossing the line in Piazza del Campo behind team-mate Megan Guarnier in 2015. The Boels-Dolmans pair are again the ones to beat , the first ever race of the UCI women's WordTour.

"We came first and second one year ago [with Megan Guarnier in first place] and I’m hoping for another win for Boels-Dolmans, it doesn’t matter if it’s me or a team-mate," Armitstead said. 

Heavily marking the two will be multi discipline world champion Pauline Ferrand-Prévot (Rabo-Liv) and her team-mate Anna van der Breggen, Elisa Longo Borghini (Wiggle High5), Italian compatriot Valentina Scandolara (Cylance), and Ashleigh Moolman Pasio (Cervelo-Bigla). 

Armitstead said the Strade Bianche will showcase the Women's World Tour. 

"This race is definitely a great event to start with. It's one of the hardest races of the season. It’s a symbol of how great women's cycling is," she said. 

SBS will broadcast and stream the Strade Bianche LIVE on Saturday 5 March from 2345 - 0145 AEDT and online here at Cycling Central. This includes a highlights package of the women's race.

Can't catch it live? A full highlights package of the race will be broadcast on SBS Sunday 6 March from 1700 – 1730 (AEST).