What do the favorites say before the Milan-San Remo?

Road 15/03/24 16:39 Migue A.

Just hours away from the Milan-San Remo race, the first of the 5 monuments of the season, the favorites are hiding their planned tactics in the lead-up to the race while trying to shake off the label of contenders for victory. The only thing certain is that the anticipated duel between Van der Poel and Pogacar is capturing all the attention and will surely provide some of the most intense moments of the entire season.

Pogacar the man to watch in the Milan-San Remo

Hours before the 2024 Milan-San Remo, the Classicissima, the fastest race on the calendar and the longest. The first of the monuments where Mathieu van der Poel, returning to competition after a well-deserved rest following his successful cyclocross campaign, will try to defend the great victory he achieved in the previous edition against a Tadej Pogacar who is eager to add one of the two monuments missing from his collection at the finish line on Via Roma.

Even Mathieu van der Poel himself partially shakes off the favorite label by praising the recent performance of the Slovenian: "I saw the Strade Bianche and what Pogacar did and it impressed me a lot" while pointing out "I wouldn't be surprised by an attack on the Poggio, but we also know that they may try to make a move before that." Regarding the strategy planned by the Dutchman, he didn't reveal anything out of the ordinary in the pre-race press conference: be well positioned on the Cipressa and let the legs do the talking on the Poggio.

Asked about how he thinks his performance will be in such a long race being his first test of the season, Van der Poel is confident and believes he can perform well without having competed before. In any case, he stated that he is happy with the training done in the last camp and feels prepared for this race.

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On the other hand, Tadej Pocacar, who this week posted some images on his social media acknowledging the ascent to the Poggio with that mischievous look that suggests he has something prepared, also did not give too many details about the race plan. "I couldn't have had a better start to the season than at the Strade Bianche. The team is competing well and we want to continue in that line. San Remo is not far from where I live in Monaco and I know the final part quite well. I am excited for the Milan-San Remo" he pointed out. "Surely we will outline a plan and stay in the best possible position to carry it out. It's a race I would love to win" was the only thing he mentioned about how he expects the race to unfold.

In any case, in the cycling world, many already point out that perhaps the Slovenian will try to make a different move this time as in the last two years he has not managed to break the race on the Poggio, a climb too gradual to overthrow powerhouses like Van der Poel last year or Matej Mohoric two years ago. Obviously, a long-range attack is not feasible in a race like San Remo with such favorable terrain. In fact, there hasn't been a winning attack on the Cipressa by a favorite since Paolo Bettini broke the race here in 2003. However, the tactic of UAE Team Emirates may likely involve making the race much harder from far out so that their rivals arrive at the decisive moment on the Poggio with as little strength as possible.

In this line, Tom Pidcock expressed firmly that "I wouldn't be surprised if there were attacks on the Cipressa this year". The British rider is not among the favorites for San Remo firstly because it is a race that doesn't suit his characteristics and secondly because his preparation is still focused on the mountain bike season. Nevertheless, he has had a standout start to the road campaign with a good performance in Omloop Het Niewsblad where he managed to join the select breakaway that had control of the race until the last moment. In any case, Pidcock should never be ruled out in a race like Milan-San Remo that often is decided on a technical descent like the Poggio if it is one of those editions where the race is not broken on this climb. In fact, although the theoretical leader of the team will be Filippo Ganna, Pidcock doesn't hide that "I can trust my teammates to position me where I need to be to have a chance of winning", making it clear that he could be the plan B for INEOS Grenadiers.




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