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Benoot wins most #BeTOUGH race of the year on his Helium SLX

His first ever pro win is named the epic Strade Bianche
Tiesj Benoot has won the Strade Bianche in Siena, which can be seen as the most #BeTOUGH race of the year. The 23-year old Belgian won a man to man battle against French mountain goat Romain Bardet and world champion cyclocross Wout Van Aert. One to be very proud of!

The race over white roads (Strade Bianche in Italian) gets ridden in one of Italy’s holiday paradises named Tuscany. But the scenery this region offers during summer was almost unrecognizable at this time of the year. Two days prior of the start of the race, the course was all covered in snow. With temperatures rising again on Friday and Saturday the white carpet melted away, but the white roads were transformed in yellow-grey mud paths. It had to become an epic race. One that would be remembered for a very long time. So the stakes were high.

If you threw an eye on the start list every rider with ambition to win today’s race knew he needed to be very strong today. Classic riders such as Sagan, Kwiatkowski and Van Avermaet were present, but also high profile Grand Tour riders like Valverde and Bardet took part in this race and aimed high. Lotto Soudal’s man for this battle was Tiesj Benoot, who finished 8th the two previous years.

Unlike other classic races in Flanders the ‘final’ of the race starts at kilometer 20 here. All favorites needed to be in good position right from the start of the first gravel sector. It would become a man to man battle until the finish in Siena. The peloton was already split up in half not long after the first gravel kilometers. And the Strade Bianche kept on dividing the riders afterwards. With about 55 km to go the favorites group took the lead of the race. Benoot was in the chasing group, but he managed to close the gap together with some other riders including Sagan and Stybar. The composition of the front group was constantly changing due to the hilly, muddy terrain. Riders were closing in and lost time again. A real battlefield.

When Romain Bardet jumped from the chasing group to the front, he immediately attacked again and got Van Aert on his wheel. Both riders built up gap with the favorites that seemed big enough to win the race. Only Benoot and Serry, another Belgian who returned from the back, went in the counterattack. Benoot left Serry behind and closed in on Bardet and Van Aert. On the last gravel sector Benoot attacked and he left his companions behind. The gap was big enough when he entered Siena so he could celebrate his first ever professional victory, and it’s a big one. Fully mud-faced he crossed the finish line and put himself as a winner on the list of the Strade Bianche as a successor of Kwiatkowski, Cancellara, Stybar and Gilbert.

Lotto Soudal and Tiesj Benoot have won the most #BeTOUGH race of the year!

See Benoot's #BeTOUGH win below