Pogacar against everyone, but Sanremo remains a magnificent enigma

Pogacar against everyone, but Sanremo remains a magnificent enigma

The riddle San Remo. It is the most indecipherable race, the easiest and the most difficult to win. But also the most complicated to win again. In the 2000s only two riders, Erik Zabel and Oscar Freire, managed to triumph more than once. And since 2016, the year of Arnaud Démare's sprint success, it has ended in very different ways. In 2017 with a three-way attack finalized by Kwiatkowski on Sagan and Alaphilippe. In 2018 he won Vincent Nibali, alone, with an uphill thrust on the Poggio. In 2019 there was a narrow sprint, with 10 riders finishing in the same time as the winner, Julian Alaphilippe. The following year, in 2020, on August 8 due to Covid, it was Wout Van Aert to beat Alaphilippe in a two-man sprint. In 2021 cunning win by Jasper Stuyven and last year the spectacular attack of Matej Mohoric in the descent of the Poggio. In short, everything is possible in those twenty minutes of absolute adrenaline that go from km 281 to 294, above all if, as expected, a rather strong wind should blow from the coast inland: the race should be faster and the possibility of breaks in the group and of fans is very high. And then with the departure from Abbiategrasso and the long transfer stretch, the 2023 race will touch 302 km. A splendid anachrony, in a cycling that goes in a completely different direction.

Milan-San Remo, the places and stories of a unique race

by Cosimo Cito

Pogacar, the most awaited

At the presentation of the teams, in front of the Castello Visconteo in Abbiategrasso, the most applauded was Tadej Pogacar. And the Slovenian, who starts with number 241 – there are 200 members, the maximum allowed by the UCI regulations, 25 teams at the start -, just slipped away from a forecast that seems to converge on him instead: “The race has so many variations and anything can always happen, I don't see myself as the number one favorite, but I can also surprise. There isn't a possible tactic, other than having all the men in the team at full capacity and running in front. Then every year things go differently from the previous one and there are maybe twenty riders who can win it". With his 9 victories in just 13 days of competition and above all thanks to the superiority shown in Paris-Nice, Pogacar will be the beacon, the man to guide for all the others. The ride will explode when he moves. Il Poggio, of course, but also the Cipressa, 22 km away from the finish, could inspire him.

Van Aert's new cut

He will fight to have his wheel in the finale. Wout Van Aert has already won in Via Roma, even if an edition conditioned by the August heat and by a totally revolutionized route: at the time, you passed through Colle di Nava, avoiding the Savona coast. “I changed my haircut” joked the Belgian runner, “and I feel fit enough to be able to win the Sanremo. I did a good Tirreno-Adriatico, I'm confident. Beware of Jasper Philipsen."

Milan-Sanremo, van Aert's scary reconnaissance: "Happy to have completed the worst outing of the year without damage"

by our correspondent Cosimo Cito

The two alternatives of Alpecin

Unlike Van Aert, Philipsen hit the Tirreno twice: a pure sprinter, he is Alpecin's alternative to Mathieu Van der Poel's razor-blades. Another who can hurt Poggio: “I'm not particularly well, nor dramatically bad. Sanremo starts on the coast, at first it may seem like a boring race, but you always have to stay very focused. The ending is very open, explosive, really anything can happen”. Only three Dutchmen have won it: Arie Den Hartog in 1965, Jan Raas in 1977, Hennie Kuiper in 1985.

Girmay, hope of Africa

Never, on the other hand, has an African runner won the Sanremo. Eritrean Biniam Girmay studied it carefully and placed well in the fast stages of the Tirreno. On the Ligurian roads he revealed himself with a second place at the age of not yet twenty, at Laigueglia 2020. He could make history again, after winning Ghent and a stage of the Giro last year.

Sonny Colbrelli and his Milan-San Remo in reverse: "I'll follow you in the flagship, I've chosen life"

by Cosimo Cito

Ganna is our man

There will be 41, over a fifth of the starters, the Italians. Pidcock's absence elevates Philip Ganna to the ranks of captain at Ineos: “The last one from the team to win it was Kwiatkowski. We have the chances to play for it, there is tension, but also a great desire to do. I'm calm, I've done everything there was to do”. An ideal scenario for Ganna, never better than 51st in Sanremo, would be that of a marker among the best on the Poggio and a jab at the end of the descent. He has the leg to keep the 60 times for minutes and won the time trial of the Tirreno-Adriatico with colossal advantages over the beaten ones. The second youngest Italian at the start is Jonathan Milan, Ganna's golden partner in the Olympic quartet, a pure power sprinter, but good at defending himself even on short sprints. He will have defending champion Mohoric in his squad, but he could also carve out a space in a very tactical race. Matteo Trentin came close to her in 2019, but he is Pogacar's teammate: however, this does not necessarily mean that he will be destined for a purely follow-on role. The only active Italian to have won Classiche Monumento is Albert Bettiol, who tries: before a bad fall at the Strade Bianche, he was flying. For the group sprint, pay attention to Matteo Moschetti.

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