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STRADE BIANCHE 2020 GALLERY

The first major race on the calendar took place on Saturday, marking racing's return. Capturing the rush through the dust were photographers Russ Ellis and Chris Auld. Here's what they captured on racing's return.

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Long anticipated since Omloop Het Nieuwsblad and Kurbe-Brusselles-Kurne, the racing season span up to full speed in Siena over the weekend with the much anticipated Strade Bianche. The familiar pagentry and ritual of a bike race remained, though rider's smiles were covered at sign on with the now common sight of masks.

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Best noted for being one of the modern Classics, Strade Bianche commonly throws up cold conditions, sharp climbs, and, with wet weather, claggy, chalky mud. It's what made the 2018 edition so memorable - but it wasn't to be this time around. The transplanting of this Spring Classic into August led to temperatures over 30, making the white roads blaze brightly through the swirling clouds of dust.

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Characterised by blistering attacks and tactical yo-yo-ing with groups off the front, the field was blown wide open on the Monte Sant Marie climb. Whilst last year's winner Allaphilippe struggled with a flurry of punctures, Stybar escaped, later to be joined by Schachmann and Wout van Aert.

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Van Aert the most comfortable in that front group and claiming redemption for previous attempts at taking the title on the White Roads seemed apt after his iconic fall from the bike in 2018. Bahrain McLaren's riders had a tougher day, and Matej Mohoric was the top ranked rider, inside the top 20.

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Whoever you cheered for though, one thing was apparent - racing is back, and whilst it's pageantry looks a little different, the stories, drama and outlandish displays of the WorldTour remain as captivating as ever.

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Thanks go to Russ Ellis and Chris Auld for capturing the race - See more of their work by following them on Instagram, at @cyclingimages & @cauldphoto.