Six and a half hours of boredom, followed by three quarters of exciting racing. Spring, the classic of all classics, the first cycling monument of the season. With the widest and most diverse set of candidates for victory, among whom Tadej Pogačar is the first favorite on paper.
But the world’s first cyclist says: “I don’t consider myself a favorite.” Last but not least, he came to the start in Milan last year in the same role, was the main attacker on the last climb, and then it was he who dropped the bike of the most daring rider on the descent. Matej Mohorič executed his plan to the letter, the sinking seatpost giving him a sliver of an advantage for the hellish descent. The captain of Bahrain Victorious became the first Slovenian to win Milan-Sanremo and became the third Slovenian with a monument.
There has been no title defense for 22 years
“I firmly believe that I’m ready. But we’ll see if I manage to win again or not. As the last one, more than 20 years ago, Erika Zabl succeeded. If I were to bet, I would bet on myself, but because my mother taught me not to I can, then I won’t bet,” the defender of the victory highlighted the fact that since Erik Zabl (2000 and 2001) there has not been a consecutive winner at the Via Roma. The German compiled two such sets: in 1998 and 1999.
“The most important thing is to get in a great position in front of Cipressa, to save as much energy as possible and at the same time stay in the first group. The same on the Poggio, to get between 5th and 10th on the climb and stay there until the key point where towards the end of the climb there will be attacks. Then we’ll see if anyone can hold Pogačar when he attacks.” Mohorič is of the same opinion as almost all cycling connoisseurs and the media, that he is the number one favorite Tadej Pogačar.
Pogi: I won’t be the only one attacking
“It’s not just me who will try to attack. It’s a race you have to know really well, especially the final part and everything has to fit together. Anything can happen. The form is good, we have a great team and we hope to win,” Pogačar is well aware that all eyes will be on him. The UAE Emirates team already diluted the bulk of the Cipressa last year, which is expected this year as well. Last year, Pogi attacked too early and into the wind.
This time’s wind forecast is favorable for the attackers: all along the Ligurian coast it will blow into the back, which means that the attacks will be easier in the final part of Poggio, where decisive attacks have been lined up since 2017. It is also among Pogačar’s monuments Domain Novakwho out of all five Slovenians will do the most work in the boring first six hours. “Three hundred kilometers is only three hundred kilometers. I’ve never raced them before in my life,” Dolenjec was discovered.
Mule in pursuit of his best result
“With the loss of the projected leader Michael Matthews, we will be more spread out and I will be looking for an opportunity for myself. If I survive the two last climbs. We know that the wind is at our back. If the front calculates and they look at each other, a little bigger group can come in the final sprint, where I can also find myself,” it is Luka Mezgec confirmed that he has free hands and feet in the Jayco AlUla team. The 34-year-old Gorenjec is racing at La Primavera for the sixth time, and the best was the 16th in 2017.
Tratnik wants to help until the last km
“We know that even Mohorič will not be allowed to go downhill alone. A winner can come from another plan, such as, for example, Mads Pedersen,” the sprinter is still convinced that the time has come for a renewed sprint of a larger group this year. The last time there was a sprint on the Via Roma to win the monument was in 2016, when the Frenchman Arnaud Demare, who is one of the seven winners of Sanremo in this year’s race, celebrated.
“The tactics are not difficult. Three points: Cipressa, Poggio and the last kilometer. Since last year, when the UAE picked up the pace on Cipressa, I think every year it will only go faster. I don’t see any other scenario than a smaller group coming under the Poggio, then but it remains to be seen. We have Wout, who can win solo or the sprint of a large group. We have to make sure that he is in the best position under Poggio. I hope that I can help him until the last kilometer.” it is Jan Tratnik summed up the essence of La Classicissima, where last year, as an assistant to the winner Mohorič, he himself finished in an excellent 9th place.
THE FAVORITES of the 114th Milan-Sanremo race
GCN+/Eurosport⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ Tadej PogačarWout van Aert⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ Matej Mohorič⭐️⭐️⭐️ Mathieu van der Poel, Julian Alaphilippe, Jasper Philipsen⭐️⭐️ Caleb Ewan, Mads Pedersen, Valentin Madouas, Biniam Girmay, Magnus Cort⭐️ Søren Kragh Andersen, Arnaud De Lie, Filippo Ganna, Jonathan Milan, Christophe Laporte
Wielerfliets⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ /⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ Tadej Pogačar⭐️⭐️⭐️ Wout van Aert, Mads Pedersen⭐️⭐️ Mathieu van der Poel, Arnaud De Lie, Matej Mohorič⭐️ Biniam Girmay, Caleb Ewan, Julian Alaphilippe, Christophe Laporte
CyclingUpToDate⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ / ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ /⭐️⭐️⭐️ Tadej PogačarWout van Aert⭐️⭐️ Julian Alaphilippe, Matej MohoričMads Pedersen⭐️ Mathieu van der Poel, Arnaud De Lie, Magnus Cort Nielsen, Alex Aranburu