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I feel like we need more races in Italy. Especially races in Italy that involve vineyards and gravel roads made from crushed marble. That Cancellara, he can ride a bike something fierce, eh?

It’s not often that we talk about team tactics when Cancellara wins a bike race. Usually, he just shows up and just starts smashing everyone. Cancellara won on a solo escape from 12 kilometers out. That sounds like some smashing right there. But Cancellara had a little help from his new friend Daniele Bennati. I promise I only stared at his legs a little.

Bennati rode a long solo break to keep the kids at BMC and Liquigas buy. BMC and Liquigas were the strongest teams in the leading group, and Cancellara, he got a nice, comfy free ride. Free! I like free. Though Oss was part of the original escape with Bennati, the sprinter boy couldn’t hang on and dropped back through the field like he was carrying a piano. It looked painful, really.

On the subject of painful, I’m not quite sure what Philippe Gilbert is up to at the moment. Maybe he has the Ardennes in mind? Certainly, he seems not that super interested in these opening semiclassics. Maybe he’ll show up at the Ronde and unleash some whoopass. But the past few weekends, he’s been lurking about well outside the action. Training, maybe.

After the final stretch of sterrata – that’s Italy speak for gravel – the BMC and Liquigas propelled group caught Bennati and we bid him a fond farewell. Bye-bye Bennati, see you at Sanremo. After we see you at Tirreno, that is. Cancellara went on the attack not too long after. And really, there wasn’t much anyone could do about it. Motorbike style, that guy.

Alessandro Ballan offered the one what-if of the finale. Ballan took off in pursuit of Cancellara, only to get derailed when he took the wrong turn in the roundabout. I’d hate to have been in the team car at that moment. I think there was cussing, maybe. Ballan pretty much lost steam right there, and while he managed to regain the lead group, he couldn’t do much to challenge the by now long-gone Cancellara.

That finish! The world really needs more walled cities. Could we just build a few? Just so we can have more finishes like this Strade Bianche? The final climb hit 18% and slowed even the mighty Cancellara, though not enough to give any hope to the chasers. The race finish was postcard perfect. If the goal of the race was to promote tourism, they so totally succeeded. I want to go to Sienna like right now and drink all their wine.

Maxim Iglinsky finished second and Oscar Gatto! finished third. Gatto! The cat sprinter, he won like 100 races as an amateur. And then, he turned pro, and nothing! Maybe he’s finally made it across the chasm that divides even the best amateurs from the pro ranks. That could be exciting to watch. Another Italian sprinter? Sure, I’ll have some of that.

Watching the race, I couldn’t help but wish that it was in the fall. In the fall, the vineyards turn golden and maybe there’d be rain. I mean, in the sporting sense, this race makes perfect sense right here as a prelude to Tirreno, Sanremo, and the Belgian cobbled races. But if you want me to dream of going to Italy, I think fall colors would be a nice addition. I know, I know, I’m so fucking demanding.

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