Zipp News

Back 3.2.2018

Zipp Ambassador Anja Takes on Strade Bianche

Zipp and SRAM ambassador Anja Kallenbach is always up to test her cycling limits, especially if it’s amid Europe’s most iconic cycling scenery. Anja filed this dispatch after pre-riding the Strade Bianche course in Italy. Tough assignment, we know, heading to Tuscany… Well, actually it was!

I always wanted to ride the famous white roads in Tuscany. In my imagination, I expected a blissful day riding a beautiful landscape. But the reality of this course surprised – and thoroughly tested – me. It’s easy to underestimate Strade Bianche. If Paris-Roubaix is deemed the Hell of the North, then perhaps Strade Bianche should be the Hell of the South! After all, this is 180km with a seemingly endless number of steep climbs.

And foreboding weather. It snowed all day as I traveled to Tuscany. Fortunately, by the time I arrived the conditions had given way to a mix of rain and sun. My day began with that Tuscan ideal: Relaxing. A little wind at my back. An easy pace on hilly roads, in good condition, over a beautiful landscape. 

At kilometer 54, though, conditions changed. What looked like little hills on the race profile were seriously steep climbs that came in quick succession. I have never seen so many signs beside the road proclaiming gradients of 15 percent, even up to 20 percent. Those white roads of gravel proved to be slippery with many holes, making them as hard to climb as the cobbled climbs of the Tour of Flanders.

Of course, much climbing means much descending, too. You have to completely concentrate to avoid the deepest holes, and the gravel shakes you around all day. I was thankful for disc brakes, being sure I could brake in time when needed especially as there was a storm that made it challenging several times to simply stay on the road. I never was sure when, and from where, the next gust of wind would arrive. 

But I have to say, what a gorgeous race!

At kilometer 130 begins the Sector of Cancellara, marked with a little sign on the road. And Fabian really selected the hardest one, 11,5 km long with the steepest climbs! When at last you make it to Siena for the final kilometers, don’t be fooled into thinking the challenge is over. You first must scale the 20 percent climb to the finish.

After that final push, the feelings are amazing when you arrive on the beautiful Piazza del Campo of Siena, and you realized you’re finished. I can only imagine the joy experienced by the racers raising his or her arms in victory.


Anja Kallenbach is a teacher, avid cyclist, and Zipp and SRAM Ambassador. In Tuscany, she rode Zipp 30 Course Disc brake clinchers with Zipp Service Course SL bars, stem, and seatpost on a Focus Paralane with SRAM Force 1 HRD wiht a Quarq power meter. For tires, she chose Zipp Tangente Course R28 (28mm wide).

Connect with her on Instagram and Twitter