Van Der Poel triumphs at Sanremo. But Ganna is ready for the classics
Surprise: good news comes from the 114th Milano-Sanremo, splendidly won by the Dutch Mathieu Van Der Poel, ahead of our Filppo Ganna, the Belgian Wout Van Aert and the super favorite Tadej Pogacar. Certainly the jab that allowed the Dutchman, nephew of the famous Raymond Poulidor, to detach his opponents at the end of the Poggio, and precede them to the finish line with a handful of seconds, must be included in the prestigious gallery of masterpieces of this classic. Van Der Poel, already winner of 2 Tours of Flanders, is not discovered today, but conquering Sanremo, in front of such a prestigious company, is something special that ennobles the career of any champion.
The good news, however, is another: and it is the second place of Filippo Ganna, a new Ganna, perfect in staying with the best until the Dutchman's winning stretch. But even at this juncture, with Pogacar and Van Aert visibly in difficulty, our hour record holder continued his pursuit of Van Der Poel keeping well downhill and ahead of the Belgian and Slovenian in the final sprint. An excellent result, that of Ganna, which confirms his great qualities and which will give him a boost in his definitive growth.
Poggio is not the Stelvio, but keeping up with champions like Pogacar and Wan Aert means that Pippo can make the big leap that everyone now expects from him: that of not only being a giant of the track and the time trial, but of to be able to have his say on the road too, in the great classics, especially those in the North which will start in about a fortnight. "Yes, I'm happy" said Ganna with his low profile way of commenting on his exploits. “I'm happy because I was still fresh on the Poggio, and maybe I could have even been more daring. Too bad, every corner is lost… Now, however, I focus on the classics of the North. For sure I'll do Roubaix, then let's see…” What can I say? If he had settled for second place, Ganna wouldn't be a champion. Instead, behind this disappointment of his is the mad desire to throw himself back into the fray. The pride of the champion.
In short, after having dominated the time trial and the track, perhaps this is the right time. Ganna, who was born in Verbania on 25 July 196, is 26 years old, the perfect age to try his hand at a high level in the one-day classics, World Champion on the road and on the track, with six stages in the Giro d'Italia, can find a new dimension that allows him to acquire a more charismatic role within Ineos, the powerful English team. Orphaned by Nibali, and at the moment with no new young riders on the horizon, Italian cycling has an enormous need to find a new point of reference that will drive our movement.
The fleeting moment
Returning to the jab of Van Der Poel, grandson of that Poulidor who triumphed in Rivera in 1961, it must be said that he truly surprised everyone. In fact, his action came just at the moment when Pogacar was thought to be leaving. Instead the Slovenian, who had made his partner Wellens work in the first part of the Poggio, lost the fleeting moment, almost as if he needed to catch his breath before attempting the draw. In that convict moment, the Dutchman took flight gaining about ten seconds which he then kept in the dive towards via Roma. Van Der Poel, who also won a cyclo-cross world championship, is now on top. «I'm really happy: conquering Sanremo is a special joy because it's a race unlike any other».
Almost five million salary, 41 overall victories on the road, Mathieu well represents current cycling in his way of running, more effortless, spectacular, always ready to do battle. His real rival, who's a bit nibbling for third place, is Van Aert, with whom he also challenged himself to the last in cyclo-cross.
The loser: Pogacar
The loser of this Sanremo, to be honest, is Tadej Pogacar, a Slovenian cannibal who is less hungry than usual. This season, in 13 days he had won nine times, including Paris-Nice where he had dominated by paving the competition. He was therefore highly anticipated, certainly the number one favourite. But Sanremo is a strange race, a magical race, with its ending which, by throwing everything upside down, always tells the truth,