It’s time for Milan-San Remo, the first of the season’s five monuments of one-day racing which, at almost 300km, is the longest race on the WorldTour calendar.
- The race will take place over essentially the same route as last year with the traditional coastal run-in over the Capi, Cipressa and Poggio before finishing, for the first time since 2007, on the Via Roma.
- The race’s return to its iconic finishing straight, which is narrow with unfortunate cambers, forces the winner to come up the middle of the road and shortens the parcours by a kilometre to 293km.
- With fewer climbs, the course should give the sprinters an advantage but the shorter run off the Poggio – only 2km to the finish – may favour a small breakaway.
- The last two editions of the race have been run in appalling conditions and while rain is forecast for Sunday, the temperatures should be quite mild. As a consequence, fortune may favour the brave and the better descenders given that the descent from the Poggio is tricky with deceptive cambers and hairpin bends.
Three to watch
Fabian Cancellara (Trek): Imperious in Tirreno-Adriatico’s final individual time trial, Spartacus seems to be coming into form at just the right time to seize another victory in Milan-San Remo to add to his haul of classics crowns. He’s got a marvellous track record in this race, having been on the podium in each of the last four years. Can he do it again? Probably, but he’ll need to thin out the pack on the Poggio. If he attacks up and over that final assault, he could be gone in the blink of an eye. As a consequence, he’ll be closely marked. Let him out of sight at your peril!
Alexander Kristoff (Katusha): With five victories already in the bag this year, he’s a rider in form – better form than at the same time last year. We know he thrives in adverse weather conditions, he’s a toughie and so are all his teammates. Given his trademark long-range surge to the finish line, many are going to want to hog his back wheel. He’ll need to give them the slip as the powerful Norwegian is looking to defend his title and become the first rider since Erik Zabel in 2001 to record back-to-back victories.
Peter Sagan (Tinkoff-Saxo): He broke his 2015 duck at Tirreno-Adriatico and you sense that he’s just hitting his stride. Runner-up in 2013 and a disappointing tenth last year, when he suffered mightily from the cold, he’s got a stronger team and the benefit of greater tactical nous at Tinkoff and he’d love the get the monkey off his back by winning a classic. His main problem will be beating the likes of Kristoff and Mark Cavendish – to name but two – in a straight sprint. He’s another one that needs to power clear on the Poggio.
Link: Official race website
(Header: Podium Milan-San Remo 2014 courtesy of RCS Sport)