In the countdown to Milan-Sanremo much had been made of the burgeoning rivalry between UAE Team Emirates and Jumbo-Visma, cycling’s two dominant teams. In the end both went home empty handed.
Neither, it seems, had prepared for a late ambush from Bahrain Victorious who took home the spoils from the longest one-day race on the calendar – 293 kilometres – following a daredevil descent off the final climb of the day from Matej Mohoric.
Hiding in plain sight after his team had ridden much of the day near the front of the peloton, Mohoric made the decisive move around 5.5km from the finishing line, although the seeds of his tactical masterclass were sewn long before the opening monument of the season rolled out from the famous old Vigorelli Velodrome.
No stranger to controversy, the rider that is widely regarded as the man to have popularised the now banned ‘supertuck’ position, Mohoric later explained how he and the team mechanics at Bahrain Victorious had adopted technology common in mountain biking, but rarely seen on road bikes. According to Mohoric the use of a seat dropper, a device built into a seatpost that enables a rider to lower their seat height while riding to give them an aerodynamic advantage, made the difference on the tricky and technical descent.
“The team set up a bike for me. We had this plan for a long, long time now,” Mohoric said. “The team came up with the idea of using a dropper post because this race suits me pretty well and it has a descent at the end. I was thinking at first it’s maybe not going to make a huge difference on the descent, but then I tried it in the training and the first time I tried it, I was amazed at how much safer [it is]. If you go normally, it gives you way more control of the bike, and if you go full gas, of course you can go a little bit faster. It’s easier to avoid mistakes, or correct them when they happen.”
And Mohoric, despite possessing a fearless approach to descending, needed to correct himself not once but twice after dropping some of the world’s strongest riders on the fast road into Sanremo.
Following an intense period of action in the final 30km, many of the pre-race favourites including Tadej Pogacar (UAE Team Emirates), Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma), Mathieu van der Poel (Alpecin-Fenix) and Mads Pedersen (Trek-Segafredo) came to the fore. Pogacar, whose team-mates had set an infernal pace going into the day’s final climb up the Poggio, appeared liveliest with the young Slovenian putting in repeated attacks. Van Aert, however, was unshakable.
As the summit neared Soren Kragh Andersen (DSM) attacked; Mohoric responded before emerging at the head of the field. Initially the Bahrain Victorious man eked out the narrowest of leads. Within half a minute there was a sizeable gap between the eventual winner and the vanquished. A brief lapse in concentration almost did for Mohoric who drifted off the side of the road before regaining his composure, balance and chance to land a maiden monument. It was a moment that, perhaps, deterred the chasing pack to risk their seasons on this one race. For Mohoric there were no such concerns, even after almost coming a cropper a second time after taking a corner a little too wide. “On the downhill of the Poggio, I was super focused the whole time,” he said. “I went off-road when I attacked but I jumped back on the road. The second time I slipped both wheels and I lost lot of time there as well.”
Incredibly, there was further drama when a mechanical issue threatened to undo Mohoric’s race. “On the flat I dropped my chain on last corner,” he explained. “Maybe I pushed too much and I should have kept some energy but I’m glad I could pull it off.”
And pull it off he did, while Anthony Turgis (TotalEnergies) escaped off the front of the chasing group to finish second, the best classics’ result of the Frenchman’s career, and Van der Poel, competing in his first race of the year after a long injury lay-off, was third.
Milan-Sanremo 2022: As it happened . . .
Mohoric wins Milan-Sanremo
Matej Mohoric (Bahrain Victorious) wins his first monument having ambushed the field. What an incredibly brave performance. Anthony Turgis (TotalEnergies) takes second and Mathieu van der Poel (Alpecin-Fenix), competing in his first race of the season, takes third.
I didn’t pick it up at first, but Mohoric’s chain bounced off his big chainring in the final kilometre, but fortune was shining down on the Slovenian today. Having almost gone off road but somehow staying upright, his big ring managed to catch his errant chain enabling him to continue pedalling. Crikey, his heart rate must have rocketed once he realised he had lost his chain. Anyway, that was a thoroughly deserved win and interesting to see that Wout van Aert and Tadej Pogacar both went over to congratulate Mohoric, both appearing genuinely happy for him.
Speaking afterwards, Mohoric said he had been planning this for some time. “I’ve been thinking about this race for the whole winter,” he said. “I’ve worked on being in good shape for Milan-Sanremo even though I got sick in February and I crashed at Strade-Bianche. I never stopped believing I could win. My plan was to do my best descent and risk it a little bit. I went full gas. It’s amazing to win Milan-Sanremo.”
1km to go
Matej Mohoric is going to win here . . . but Anthony Turgis (TotalEnergies) is in pursuit. What a dramatic finale.
2km to go
Matej Mohoric is onto the flat now, Mads Pedersen and Soren Kragh Andersen near the front of the chase, but they may have left it too late.
2.5km to go
Matej Mohoric has two, maybe three, seconds on the chasers. This descending demon can taste victory, but can he hold on? He’s on his own and able to use every centimetre of this road. Heart-in-the-mouth stuff this, but an absolute joy to watch.
4km to go
Matej Mohoric take over on the descent. The Slovenian almost loses control, but wrestles his bike back . . . and he has gained some distance on Pogacar et al.
5km to go
Soren Kragh Andersen goes over the Poggio first, with Tadej Pogacar on his wheel.
6.6km to go
And again, Tadej Pogacar attacks. But Wout van Aert matches him pedal stroke for pedal stroke. And Soren Kragh Andersen (DSM), who had a dig here last year, has set off . . . but Pogacar marks him out.
7.3km to go
Tadej Pogacar eases up, and then attacks for a third time. And then Primoz Roglic counter-attacks with Mathieu van der Poel on his wheel. Van der Poel is all over every move.
7.5km to go
Mathieu van der Poel responds and bridges over to Tadej Pogacar and Van Aert. Pogacar eases up, before putting in a second attack.
8.3km to go
Diego Ulissi, the Italian puncheur, takes over on the front now. Tadej Pogacar tucked in behind his team-mate . . . and boom, he attacks.
9km to go
The peloton is onto the Poggio. Jumbo-Visma rae on the front with Christophe Laporte riding for team-mate Wout van Aert.
10km to go
Davide Formolo has been replaced on the front of the bunch by Jumbo-Visma’s Nathan Van Hooydonck.
11km to go
Tadej Pogacar has Davide Formolo and Diego Ulissi on the front for him, almost within touching distance (15sec) of race leaders Samuele Rivi and Alessandro Tonellli who are near the bottom of the Poggio.
13.5km to go
The breakaway leads by just 16sec now. They will be getting caught very soon.
15km to go
Mads Pedersen and Mathieu van der Poel are in the leading group, as is Arnaud Demare and Biniam Ghirmay Hailu – but can any of them break the hegemony that UAE Team Emirates / Jumbo-Visma appear to have on the cycling world?
18km to go
Davide Formolo has a team-mate alongside him on the front of the speeding pack. Will UAE Team Emirates lead the way into the narrow approach to the Poggio, or will Jumbo-Visma inch ahead? I suspect Tadej Pogacar will attempt to attack Wout van Aert at some point, but where? And can he shake off the strongest all-rounder in the sport right now?
20.5km to go
UAE Team Emirates and Jumbo-Visma, the two strongest teams in cycling right now, have blown this race to pieces. The reduced peloton is descending off the Cipressa now. Nervous times for all.
22.5km to go
Samuele Rivi and Alessandro Tonellli are near the summit of the Cipressa, but their lead has been smashed to pieces – just 44sec now. Davide Formolo grimaces as the former Italian national champion buries himself on behalf of Tadej Pogacar. Jumbo-Visma team-mates Christophe Laporte and Nathan Van Hooydonck remain glued to the wheel of Formolo, with Wout van Aert at fourth wheel.
23.5km to go
Davide Formolo takes over on the front for UAE Team Emirates. Fabio Jakobsen is the latest sprinter to crack on the Cipressa. They just cannot cope with the pace being set by Pogacar’s squad. The advantage of race leaders Samuele Rivi (Eolo-Kometa) and Alessandro Tonellli (Bardiani-CSF-Faizane) is down to a shade over one minute.
24.5km to go
UAE Team Emirates continue to flex their muscle, Jumbo-Visma has Christophe Laporte and Nathan Van Hooydonck tucked in at second and third wheel, with Wout van Aert at fourth. Tadej Pogacar is marking Van Aert. Riders are popping like hot corn at the back.
25km to go
UAE Team Emirates are now on the front of the chasing group, setting a fierce pace in an effort to burn the legs of Tadej Pogacar’s rivals. Wout van Aert is up near the front, as is Mathieu van der Poel. Game on. The breakaway has splintered further still.
26.5km to go
Bahrain Victorious and Jumbo-Visma are drilling it on the front as they go into the Cipressa. Nobody will want to be caught out on this climb. Luke Rowe of Ineos Grenadiers is now near the front.
28km to go
The four-man breakaway of Samuele Rivi (Eolo-Kometa), Alessandro Tonellli (Bardiani-CSF-Faizane), Yevgeniy Gidich (Astana Qazaqstan) and Diego Pablo Sevilla (Eolo-Kometa) lead by 2min 15sec as they approach the penultimate climb of the day, the Cipressa.
30km to go
The pace in the peloton is winding up. TotalEnergies are riding in the front, as are Jumbo-Visma – and Peter Sagan has had a mechanical. He has had to stop to get a bike change. Not great that, he will burn up some vital energy chasing to get back on. That could make all the difference
Conca cramps up!
Heartbreak for Filippo Conca who, after being in the breakaway from the start of the race and having worked to get back into the breakaway, has pulled up at the side of the road. he looks to be suffering with cramp. He won’t be coming back, but did a brilliant ride today.
34km to go
Filippo Conca (Lotto-Soudal) has fought his way back into the leading group. The Italian swells that group to five, their advantage having dropped further still to 3min 15sec.
Pidcock pops on Capo Berta
Tom Pidcock’s day looks over. The Yorkshireman gestures to the TV cameras to suggest he is in no form to challenge. He has lost contact with the peloton.
38.5km to go
Samuele Rivi (Eolo-Kometa) puts in a dig as he nears the summit of the Capo Berta, but Alessandro Tonellli (Bardiani-CSF-Faizane) holds his wheel, followed by Yevgeniy Gidich (Astana Qazaqstan) and Diego Pablo Sevilla (Eolo-Kometa). On they push with an advantage of 3min 40sec.
40km to go: Capo Berta
With an average gradient of seven per cent the Capo Berta – 1.7km long – may start to bite. The five-man breakaway is splintering which will play into the hands of the chasing peloton that very much has strength in numbers.
42km to go
The breakaway has split in two: Filippo Conca (Lotto-Soudal), Yevgeniy Gidich (Astana Qazaqstan), Samuele Rivi (Eolo-Kometa), Diego Pablo Sevilla (Eolo-Kometa), Alessandro Tonellli (Bardiani-CSF-Faizane) now lead, while the Drone Hopper-Androni Giocattoli duo of Filippo Tagliano and Ricardo Alejandro Zurita are labouring behind wih only Artyom Zakharov (Astana Qazaqstan) for company.
43km to go
Filippo Ganna drops back to the Ineos Grenadiers team car for a chat with his sporting director Matteo Tosatto. The Italian time trial specialist will manage to get back on.
44km to go
TotalEnergies have a group of their riders up near the front, could today be the day when Peter Sagan lands the race he was always destined to win? Rick Zabel, whose father Erik won Milan-Sanremo four times during his career, was also spotted near the head of the field.
48km to go
The breakaway is onto the Capo Cervo – just 2km long with an average gradient of 2.5 per cent. Their lead has dropped further still: 4min 20sec.
50km to go
Toms Skujins, the Latvian national champion who may be riding as road captain for Trek-Segafredo today, is seen bellowing instructions to team-mate Simon Pellaud. They have been riding in formation for the best part of the day, protecting Mads Pedersen who in the absence of Jasper Stuynven is wearing race No 1.
53km to go
The breakaway is onto the Capo Mele. Filippo Conca (Lotto-Soudal), Yevgeniy Gidich (Astana Qazaqstan), Samuele Rivi (Eolo-Kometa), Diego Pablo Sevilla (Eolo-Kometa), Filippo Tagliano (Drone Hopper-Androni Giocattoli), Alessandro Tonellli (Bardiani-CSF-Faizane), Artyom Zakharov (Astana Qazaqstan) and Ricardo Alejandro Zurita (Drone Hopper-Androni Giocattoli) are working as one tight compact unit for the moment, but can they stick together all the way to the Cipressa or, whisper it, to the Poggio?
55km to go
For the first time in a few hours the breakaway’s lead has dropped to below the five-minute mark. None of the pre-race favourites have poked their noses into the wind all day long. Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux, whose young Eritrean Biniam Ghirmay Hailu is an outside pick for today, have moved up towards the front of the pack. Former winner Alexander Kristoff is in theat group with team-mate Ghirmay Hailu.
60km to go
Mikkel Frolich Honore is the latest to hit the deck and the Quick Step-Alpha Vinyl rider picked up some nasty looking road rash on his right shoulder. He may struggle getting back on which may have a knock-on impact for his team-mate Fabio Jakobsen later on this afternoon. Tom Pidcock, by the way, swerved at the last to avoid hitting Honore’s bike in the middle of the road. Close call that!
61km to go
Tom Pidcock, who made his debut here last year when he did a little too much work too early on the Poggio, is spotted near the back of the peloton. Can’t quite work out if he is looking relaxed or is blowing. He will be wanting to move up the bunch if he wants to stay out of harm’s way once the race heats up – and also avoid getting caught up behind any crashes.
63km to go
The race leaders are around 15km from the first of the three Capo climbs. Capo Mele is just 2km long at an average gradient of 3.7 per cent, but these little climbs can really bite after riding on the relative flat for a few hours. The peloton appears to be getting organised, positioning their riders in the countdown to showtime. The breakaway’s lead is at 5min 36sec.
68.5km to go
Bahrain Victorious has its entire team lined out behind Jos van Emden. Are they working today for Phil Bauhaus who won a stage last week at Tirreno-Adriatico, or will the descending demon that is Matej Mohoric fancy an opportunistic attack off the Poggio? The Slovenian, of course, was fifth on Via Roma in 2019, 10th in 2020 and was 11th in 2021.
The breakaway’s lead has dropped slightly, but they still have a fairly decent advantage of 5min 15sec.
75km to go
The breakaway is benefiting from a strong tailwind. Jos van Emden continues to pull on the front of the peloton, it looks like the main protagonists are allowing Jumbo-Visma to set the pace. Bahrain Victorious are lined out behind Van Emden just ahead of Trek-Segafredo, while Ineos Grenadiers are grouped together relatively near the front of the stretched out peloton.
What does the finale of the race look like?
Once off the Passo del Turchino, the peloton reaches the coastline road after around five hours of riding. If they have not already done so, then the teams with genuine ambitions of winning Milan-Sanremo will be battling hard for position in the countdown to the Cipressa-Poggio double header, both within the final 30km (below).
With a measly 271.4km now in the legs – plus whatever length of neutralised riding the organisers decide to include at the beginning of the race – the penultimate climb of the day, the Cipressa (below), will be the final act for some riders who simply cannot hold the wheels of team-mates or rivals. For others the 5.6km long climb with an average gradient of 4.1 per cent will become a platform on which to build their challenge.
Either way, there is a very fast descent over the other side. It was here in 2019 where local rider Niccolo Bonifazio (watch below) launched an audacious attack. Though in vain, Bonifazio’s move highlighted a key danger point. Nobody will want to have to chase just yet and so one would expect all of the key protagonists will be marking each other.
Once over the Cipressa, a flat, but twisty and technical, stretch of road connects to the final, potentially decisive, climb of the day: the Poggio.
Or to give it its full name, the Poggio di Sanremo.
Topping out just 5.5km from the finish, the 3.7km long climb with an average gradient of under four per cent, is a perennial graveyard for many hopefuls. On numerous occasions, too, it has provided the launchpad for an assault. In the 2017 edition Peter Sagan attacked on the steeper section near the summit that reaches eight per cent, only Alaphilippe and Michal Kwiatkowski were able to respond, the latter eventually going on to win.
The descent is extremely technical and not one for the feint-hearted. Whatever the conditions the riders will have to navigate their way through a series of tight hairpins, all on very, very narrow roads. Concentration and nerve is key.
As you can see from the above profile, once safely off the Poggio, the course flattens out as the race enters the unremarkable town of Sanremo.
The final sting in the tail in what will be the longest one-day race many riders will have ever done comes just 750 metres from the finishing line on Via Roma as they are faced with a 90-degree left-hand turn, quickly followed by another 90-degree turn before hitting the final straight.
85.5km to go
The peloton, which for a large part of the day has had Jos van Emden pulling on the front on behalf of his Jumbo-Visma team-mates, will have to start working hard pretty soon. The eight-man breakaway has lost a few seconds, but leads by 6min 30sec. I’m fairly certain they will be reeled back in, but one suspects those in the leading group will be starting to think of some personal glory.
So, who are the favourites?
Tadej Pogacar (UAE Team Emirates)
The young Slovenian is making his second appearance at the race and arrives in blistering form having won the UAE Tour and Tirreno-Adriatico stage races, and also this month’s Strade-Bianche. He’s basically unbeaten this year and is aiming to win a third different monument today, still just 23, after adding Liège-Bastogne-Liège and Il Lombardia to his rapidly growing palmarès last year. He may be one of the favourites, but Pogacar will be watched like a hawk by rival teams.
Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma)
One of five former winners in today’s race, the Belgian who opened his season with a victory at Omloop Het Nieuwsblad before later winning a stage and the points classification at Paris-Nice, may be the only man able to rein in Pogacar should the UAE Team Emirates attack on the Poggio. May benefit from having team-mate Primoz Roglic riding alongside him – either in support or as part of a two-pronged attack. Is climbing well and kicks like a mule when the fastmen come to the fore. Arguably the all-rounder is a rider best suited to Milan-Sanremo.
Mathieu van der Poel (Alpecin-Fenix)
The Dutchman is making his debut today and so his form is unknown, but the Alpecin-Fenix leader cannot be discounted. For those who have not been paying attention, Van der Poel skipped the cyclo-cross season as he recovered from a crash in the mountain bike race at last year’s Olympics, speaking ahead of the race said he had been feeling “pretty good in training. The back is okay,” he added. “Sometimes after hard training I still feel something but on the bike it’s quite OK. I hope that it stay ok and that it develops in a positive way.”
Mads Pedersen (Trek-Segafredo)
The former world champion was a late addition to the team following the withdrawal of Jasper Stuyven, but looked good at this month’s Paris-Nice where the Dane won a stage and looked strong on the climbs.
In addition to the above, there are a number of others that could do well today. Ineos Grenadiers have Filippo Ganna and Tom Pidcock who could do well, while south London’s Ethan Hayter, on his day, could challenge. They have former winner Michal Kwiatkowski here today, while Italian sprinter Elia Viviani is somebody that may challenge if it comes down to a bunch sprint. Dutch sprinter Fabio Jakobsen is leading the Quick Step-Alpha Vinyl squad and will be hoping for a bunch gallop finish, while Italian team-mate Davide Ballerini may also fancy his chances.
I could probably list 20 or 30 possible winners, but will not.
100km to go
The eight-man breakaway has eked out a little more time on the chasing peloton having now dropped down towards the coastline. They leads by a shade over seven minutes (7min 9sec to be precise), but nobody expects them to hold on all the way to the final climbs of the day where the race is widely expected to spark into life.
Just hearing that Roger Kluge has abandoned, meaning his Lotto-Soudal team have just five riders on the road. The Belgian team did not replace Caleb Ewan and so Philippe Gilbert, who would complete the set of all five monuments if he won today, may have to do a little more work than he had hoped.
Iñigo Elosegui (Movistar) is staggering around in the middle of the road after the 24-year-old Spaniard was caught up in a crash with a handful of Bardiani-CSF-Faizane riders. Not entirely sure if Elosegui will be continuing, but he was holding his arm and looked to be in an awful of of pain. A timely reminder for all in the bunch that concentration in these long one-day races is key to success: take your eye off the wheel in front of you for a second and your day can be done.
As it stands . . .
Right folks, let’s have a look at where we are. Robert Stannard (Alpecin-Fenix) was a non-starter this morning, the Australian becoming the latest rider in the peloton succumbing to illness. In the last few days former winners Julian Alaphilippe (Quick Step-Alpha Vinyl) and Japser Stuyven (Trek-Segafredo) both pulled out, while Lotto-Soudal announced on the eve of the race the Aussie sprinter Caleb Ewan, who was one of the favourites, would not start as he had stomach flu.
The 165-rider peloton gathered in the famous open-air Vigorelli Velodrome at around breakfast time along with the good and the great of Italian cycling. One notable face in the track centre was a certain Ernesto Colnago who was spotted chatting with Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma), though one suspects the famous old frame builder will be hoping Tadej Pogacar (UAE Team Emirates) prevails later on this afternoon on one of his very own Colnago bicycles. Once having navigated their way through the short neutralised zone – around 6km – they passed through KM0, the official start of the race, at 9.15am (GMT).
Almost straight from the off, an eight-man breakaway comprising Filippo Conca (Lotto-Soudal), Yevgeniy Gidich (Astana Qazaqstan), Samuele Rivi (Eolo-Kometa), Diego Pablo Sevilla (Eolo-Kometa), Filippo Tagliano (Drone Hopper-Androni Giocattoli), Alessandro Tonellli (Bardiani-CSF-Faizane), Artyom Zakharov (Astana Qazaqstan) and Ricardo Alejandro Zurita (Drone Hopper-Androni Giocattoli) clipped off the front. Unsurprisingly, there were no complaints from the bunch which seemed happy enough to give them their day in the springtime sun and right now they lead by 6min 41sec with 124.5km of the race remaining.
Speaking of the springtime sun, the weather forecast for Sanremo later this afternoon is for around 17°, but of most relevance is the wind. There will be a moderate tailwind of around 23km/h, though there may be gusts at up to 50km/h. If that’s the case, then it could be a very, very fast finale – much faster than usual – and positioning on the final two climbs of the Cipressa and Poggio may be more important than ever.
Once into the final 30km of the race, all hell may break loose. Attack after attack may form, while riders will almost certainly jostle for position in an attempt to be near the front, but without the leading protagonists poking their noses unnecessarily into the wind. As the old cliché goes, this is the easiest race to finish, but one of the hardest to win and getting everything right on the day requires a fine balance of having the legs after over six hours of riding, patience, bravery in the descents and the ability to identify the right moment to make your move. Some say the race is boring, which if you watch it from KMO it may well be, but it has one of the most exciting finales you will see in cycling.
Ciao, buon giorno!
Hello and welcome to our live rolling blog from the 113th edition of Milan-Sanremo, the 293-kilometre one-day classic from Milan to, you’ve guessed it, Sanremo.
Racing gets under way at 8.10am (GMT), but as the vast majority of readers will know Milan-Sanremo is a slow-burner of a race with very little of importance happening in the opening few hours. For that reason, Telegraph Sport will be monitoring the peloton as it weaves its way towards the final 125km before firing up the live blog ‘proper’ at around 1pm.
Today’s race is the first of five monuments of the cycling season – the others being Tour of Flanders, Paris-Roubaix, Liège-Bastogne-Liège and Il Lombardia – and is the longest one-day race on the calendar.
The late Tom Simpson became the first British rider to win Milan-Sanremo in 1964 when he outwitted Frenchman Raymond Poulidor on the final Poggio climb before adding the first of three monuments to his palmarès. Mark Cavendish became the second and, as yet, only other Briton to win the race after pipping Heinrich Haussler to the line in 2009. Although both Cavendish and Haussler are competing at the highest level of the sport, neither were selected by their teams.
Italians have dominated the race since its inception in 1907 where they have won 51 of the 112 editions. Following a relative drought for the host nation, Vincenzo Nibali ended a 12-year wait for Italy with his win in 2018 – Filippo Pozzato (2006) being the previous Italian to prevail. Belgium is the second most successful nation with 22 victories following last year’s win from Jasper Stuyven.
Although often referred to as a sprinters’ classic, over the years the race has been won by general classification riders, all-rounders and those ordinarily suited to the cobbles of northern Europe. Indeed, recent editions have been won after attacks on the final climb of the day, the Poggio, held all the way to the line, thus denying the pure sprinters the gallop finish they had been thinking of for the preceding seven hours.
Nibali may not be on the start line in the famous old Vigorelli Velodrome today, but last year he spoke at length about the race the Italians call la classicissima. Nibali’s words perfectly encapsulate the race he described as a ‘long procession’, though a procession that requires concentration from start to its frenetic finale.
“For 280 kilometres, Milan-Sanremo is like a long procession,” Nibali said. “It’s the calm before the storm because in just 20 kilometres, it becomes the hottest race, one that doesn’t forgive. Each edition is a story. Everyone knows what awaits, but no one knows what can happen from Cipressa onwards. It’s the most open classic in terms of characteristics but must be approached with the utmost attention to detail.
“Everyone knows that the decisive points are now the Cipressa and Poggio. But you can’t have any distractions in the long route that takes you there, starting from the neutral start, 7.6 kilometres in Milan from Castello Sforzesco to Via della Chiesa Rossa. Here the tram tracks are tricky, everyone knows this, but still someone always ends up on the ground, his race ending before beginning.
“From kilometre zero, you have to take maniacal care to eat and drink; otherwise you may end up out of reserves at a key moment. I still remember my first participation, fully motivated and gritty, my head was only set on [the] last 20 kilometres. And then, on the Capi, suddenly the lights went out and it was game over.
“Then you still have to know when to stop to pee, and not risk spending unnecessary energy to get back. Or thinking about the proper clothing for the right moment: not too light to feel cold, but also not too heavy to sweat too much.
“Even if you’ve done everything right, from Capo Mele onwards, 60 kilometres from the finish, you’re only halfway there. From that point the battle for positions begins. Watchword: being in the front. Any energy spent recovering position is one less chance to win. The Cipressa is the first test, the first selection. But be careful, don’t let yourself be deceived. Even if you pass it with ease, then comes the Poggio which, between the two, is the climb that often remains more indigestible. What happens next is what remains in the annals, what will be written in the Milan-Sanremo history for that year.”
Starting list of riders at today’s race
Ag2r-Citroën (Fra): Mikaël Cherel (Fra), Benoît Cosnefroy (Fra), Bob Jungels (Lux), Greg Van Avermaet (Bel), Gijs Van Hoecke (Bel), Andrea Vendrame (Ita), Larry Warbasse (US).
Astana Qazaqstan (Kaz): Leonardo Basso (Ita), Manuele Boaro (Ita), Fabio Felline (Ita), Yevgeniy Gidich (Kaz), Davide Martinelli (Ita), Gianni Moscon (Ita), Artyom Zakharov (Kaz).
Bahrain Victorious (Brn): Yukiya Arashiro (Jpn), Phil Bauhaus (Ger), Damiano Caruso (Ita), Jonathan Milan (Ita, neo-pro), Matej Mohoric (Slo), Jasha Sütterlin (Ger), Jan Tratnik (Slo).
BikeExchange-Jayco (Aus): Lawson Craddock (US), Luke Durbridge (Aus), Alex Edmondson (Aus), Alexander Konychev (Ita), Michael Matthews (Aus), Cameron Meyer (Aus), Luka Mezgec (Slo).
Bora-Hansgrohe (Ger): Giovanni Aleotti (Ita, neo-pro), Cesare Benedetti (Ita), Marco Haller (Aut), Ryan Mullen (Irl), Ide Schelling (Hol), Danny van Poppel (Ned).
Cofidis (Fra): Davide Cimolai (Ita), Simone Consonni (Ita), Bryan Coquard (Fra), Simon Geschke (Ger), Pierre-Luc Périchon (Fra), Szymon Sajnok (Pol), Davide Villella (Ita).
DSM (Ger): Nico Denz (Ger), Nils Eekhoff (Ned), Chris Hamilton (Aus), Soren Kragh Andersen (Den), Andreas Leknessund (Nor, neo-pro), Joris Nieuwenhuis (Ned), Kevin Vermaerke (US, neo-pro).
EF Education-EasyPost (US): Alberto Bettiol (Ita), Owain Doull (GB), Jonas Rutsch (Ger), Tom Scully (NZ), James Shaw (GB), Michael Valgren (Den), Julius van den Berg (Ned).
Groupama-FDJ (Fra): Clément Davy (Fra, neo-pro), Arnaud Démare (Fra), Kevin Geniets (Hol), Ignatas Konovalovas (Ltu), Quentin Pacher (Fra), Anthony Roux (Fra), Miles Scotson (Aus).
Ineos Grenadiers (GB): Filippo Ganna (Ita), Ethan Hayter (GB), Michal Kwiatkowski (Pol), Tom Pidcock (GB, neo-pro), Luke Rowe (GB), Ben Swift (GB), Elia Viviani (Ita).
Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux (Bel): Biniam Ghirmay Hailu (Eri), Alexander Kristoff (Nor), Andrea Pasqualon (Ita), Simone Petilli (Ita), Lorenzo Rota (Ita), Rein Taaramae (Est), Loïc Vliegen (Bel).
Israel-Premier Tech (Isr): Matthias Brändle (Aut), Alexander Cataford (Can), Alex Dowsett (GB), Omer Goldstein (Isr), Krists Neilands (Lat), Giacomo Nizzolo (Ita), Rick Zabel (Ger).
Jumbo-Visma (Ned): Edoardo Affini (Ita), Christophe Laporte (Fra), Primoz Roglic (Slo), Wout van Aert (Bel), Tosh Van der Sande (Bel), Jos van Emden (Ned), Nathan Van Hooydonck (Bel).
Lotto-Soudal (Bel): Filippo Conca (Ita, neo-pro), Frederik Frison (Bel), Philippe Gilbert (Bel), Roger Kluge (Ger), Maxim Van Gils (Bel, neo-pro), Florian Vermeersch (Bel).
Movistar (Spa): Alex Aranburu (Spa), Will Barta (US), Iñigo Elosegui (Spa), Iván García Cortina (Spa), Abner González (Pur, neo-pro), Max Kanter (Ger), Gonzalo Serrano (Spa).
Quick Step-Alpha Vinyl (Bel): Andrea Bagioli (Ita), Davide Ballerini (Ita), Mattia Cattaneo (Ita), Mikkel Frolich Honore (Den), Fabio Jakobsen (Ned), Florian Sénéchal (Fra), Zdenek Stybar (Cze).
Trek-Segafredo (US): Gianluca Brambilla (Ita), Tony Gallopin (Fra), Alex Kirsch (Lux), Jacopo Mosca (Ita), Mads Pedersen (Den), Simon Pellaud (Fra), Toms Skujins (Lat).
UAE Team Emirates (UAE): Alessandro Covi (Ita), Davide Formolo (Ita), Ryan Gibbons (SA), Tadej Pogacar (Slo), Jan Polanc (Slo), Oliviero Troia (Ita), Diego Ulissi (Ita).
Alpecin-Fenix (Bel): Silvan Dillier (Swi), Michael Gogl (Aut), Stefano Oldani (Ita), Jasper Philipsen (Bel), Kristian Sbaragli (Ita), Mathieu van der Poel (Ned).
Arkéa-Samsic (Fra): Maxime Bouet (Fra), Nacer Bouhanni (Fra), Romain Hardy (Fra), Kévin Ledanois (Fra), Laurent Pichon (Fra), Clément Russo (Fra), Connor Swift (GB).
Bardiani-CSF-Faizane (Ita): Luca Covili (Ita), Filippo Fiorelli (Ita), Davide Gabburo (Ita), Sacha Modolo (Ita), Luca Rastelli (Ita), Alessandro Tonelli (Ita), Filippo Zana (Ita).
Drone Hopper-Androni Giocattoli (Ita): Eduard-Michael Grosu (Rou), Umberto Marengo (Ita), Didier Merchan (Col), Jhonatan Restrepo (Col), Filippo Tagliani (Ita), Ricardo Alejandro Zurita (Spa).
Eolo-Kometa (Ita): Vincenzo Albanese (Ita), Davide Bais (Ita), Francesco Gavazzi (Ita), Mirco Maestri (Ita), Samuele Rivi (Ita), Diego Rosa (Ita), Diego Pablo Sevilla (Spa).
TotalEnergies (Fra): Edvald Boasson Hagen (Nor), Maciej Bodnar (Pol), Niccolo Bonifazio (Ita), Daniel Oss (Ita), Peter Sagan (Svk), Julien Simon (Fra), Anthony Turgis (Fra).