The leading quarter has become a leading quintet, as counter-attacker Nils Brun (Tudor Pro Cycling Team) has successfully bridged the gap. They have a lead of over a minute.

Time now for the fourth gravel test – La Piana, which has been rated 2 stars, and lasts 64km.

170KM TO GO

The quartet’s lead is now up to over 30 seconds. This could be the break of the day.

They’ve been joined by Dion Smith (Intermarché – Wanty), and have a lead of about 20 seconds.  

A new trio now forming a new lead group, and it’s a strong one: Lawson Craddock (Jayco-AlUla), Mark Donovan (Q36.5) and Anders Halland Johannessen (Uno-X), who was on the attack earlier.

180KM TO GO

They’re on the third gravel sector now, the 2-star Radi.

Sergio Samitier leading the peloton on the previous gravel sector. As you see, the roads are dry and dusty, with no rain to cause any mud.

The Bagnaia has been completed, and the peloton remains together.

Time now for sector 2, Bagnaia. It’s harder than the last one, and has been designated 3 out of 5 stars in terms of difficulty. This could be where a breakaway goes clear.

200KM TO GO

That lead group had made it to the first of the day’s 15 gravel sectors, the Vidritta, but did not survive it, and has been brought back. We await the next moves.

The 6 riders with Skujiņš are: Cristián Rodríguez (Arkéa – B&B Hotels), Oscar Riesebeek (Alpecin-Deceuninck), Felix Engelhardt (Jayco-AlUla), Logan Currie (Lotto Dstny), Anders Halland Johannessen (Uno-X) and Francisco Muñoz (Polti Kometa).

Among those seven riders is Toms Skujiņš. Given the form he showed a week over during Opening Weekend, surely he won’t be allowed up the road.

205KM TO GO

Attacks have been made, and a group of seven currently have a small gap ahead of the peloton.

As for that all-important weather forecast – you can see from this image of the women’s race that, though dry at the moment, there are some menacing-looking clouds in the sky. Should the heaven’s open, the gravel roads will become mud baths, and alter the whole nature of the race. But the forecasts are predicting the rain to stay away this afternoon.

215KM TO GO

And they’re off!

The riders have rolled out of the unofficial start and into the neutralised zone. We await the official start with bated breath!

As well as Pogačar, defending champion Tom Pidcock is also among the favourites, while others to watch include in-form young talent Lennert Van Eetvelt, Ben Healy, and Sepp Kuss, who is testing himself on the unfamiliar gravel roads. For a more detailed look at each one’s chances, have a read of our preview analysing the contenders.

Just five minutes until the neutralised start, and the excitement is palpable. 

This being one of the biggest prizes of the season, the start list is packed with talent. But one name stands above all the others – Tadej Pogačar. It seems like an age since we last saw the great man race, and was indeed almost five months ago, at Il Lombardia last autumn – which, inevitably he won. He also won the last time he competed at Strade Bianche in 2022, and, in the absence of Wout van Aert and Mathieu van der Poel, is the hot favourite to do so again today.

The route of this year’s Strade Bianche will be the longest yet, exceeding 200km for the first time in the race’s 17-year history. An extra loop near Siena means that 15 sectors of the race’s emblematic gravel roads will be tackled, up from 11 last year. We’ll find out today whether that adds to the spectacle, or upsets the balance of the race by making it too demanding.

While we wait for the men, the women are already off and racing – you can follow all the action of that race here.

Just half an hour to go before the men set off for what many now consider to be the first major classic — and possibly even monument — of the season – Strade Bianche! Whether or not it deserves that particularly weighty level has been debated with increasing intensity in the past few years, but in any case, it’s undoubtedly one of the spectacles of the season.

Hello and welcome to our live coverage of the 2024 men’s Strade Bianche