Pogacar on the hunt for his fourth monument at the Milan-San Remo 2024

Road 16/03/24 13:30 Migue A.

Talking about Milan-San Remo is talking about the arrival of spring, undoubtedly the most intense time of the year in terms of cycling. After a week where stage races have taken center stage with the dispute of Tirreno-Adriatico and Paris-Nice, attention now turns back to the classics with the dispute of the first Monument of the season. A race that, for the third consecutive year, Tadej Pogacar will try to add to his palmares and take a giant step towards the challenge of conquering the 5 Monuments, all with the permission of the current winner Mathieu van der Poel who starts his season here.

Van der Poel and Pogacar face off in the 2024 Milan-San Remo

Two cyclists and one destiny could be the title of the movie, in this week when we are still recovering from the Oscars. They, Tadej Pocagar and Mathieu van der Poel, and the destiny, being the first cyclists since the 1970s to add the 5 Monuments to their palmares. In the case of the Dutchman, he already has this race in his record after the exhibition he put on at the Poggio last year, the Slovenian, however, faces a tremendously difficult test for his characteristics and one that he has come close to in the last two years but still eludes him.

And let's not forget what the cyclists themselves always say about the Milan-San Remo: the easiest race to ride but the hardest to win. A race where you only have one bullet that you have to use at the right moment. A single opportunity to attack conditioned by the extremely high speed at which you ride for 300 kilometers, longer than any other race on the calendar, which means that when demanding watts from your legs after so many hours of effort at maximum speed, they may not respond as the cyclist would like.

Favorites to win the 2024 Milan-San Remo

Mathieu van der Poel, as the defending champion and after the excellent cyclocross campaign he has given us this winter, has to be the first in any prediction for victory on the streets of San Remo. However, following the same strategy he used during the cyclocross season, the rider from Alpecin-Deceuninck has set a highly selective calendar for this spring, including only the most important races. This means that his debut on the road this season will be in this Milan-San Remo, which could be a problem due to the lack of competition rhythm. Something that would worry any other rider, but Mathieu has already shown on other occasions that he can handle it perfectly. In any case, his team has a plan B in the legs of a Jasper Philipsen who managed to open his victory account a few days ago in the second stage of Tirreno-Adriatico and who could have his chance.

The absence of Wout van Aert, who has chosen to do an altitude training camp to prepare thoroughly for Flanders and Roubaix, diminishes the potential of a strong Visma-Lease a Bike team that has had an outstanding last month. Christophe Laporte will be the leader of the Dutch team, although it is a race that does not particularly suit his characteristics.

In the absence of the Belgian rider, and after the tremendous display he gave us at Strade Bianche, Tadej Pogacar becomes the top favorite alongside Van der Poel to win one of the monuments he has not yet added to his palmares. The Slovenian has chosen, after Strade Bianche, to rest and train diligently rather than exhaust himself competing in Paris-Nice or Tirreno-Adriatico, the two races that traditionally serve to fine-tune the form for those seeking victory in San Remo. Tim Wellens, who is having a notable start to the season, will be his support in UAE Team Emirates until the steep ramps of the Poggio.

However, the Milan-San Remo is a tremendously unpredictable race and, although the Dutchman and the Slovenian are the top favorites above all others, it is not always possible to break away on the Poggio, it is not always possible to arrive perfectly positioned at this point, or it is not always possible to lead the descent towards San Remo. It is there where the range opens up and where we cannot fail to include someone who already knows how to cause a stir on that tortuous descent.

We are talking, obviously, about Matej Mohoric, a rider who is always in the top positions of this race and who already knows what it is to win it after the breathtaking descent he gave us a couple of editions ago. Also in that second tier of contenders for victory, we must include a rider who, due to his characteristics, is destined to win this race sooner or later. None other than the rider from Lidl-Trek, Mads Pedersen, who, despite a great start to the season, lacked that extra edge last week in Paris-Nice to win in the mass sprints, although, in return, he seems to have become a more versatile rider. By the way, as a curiosity, his only two participations in the Classicissima have resulted in two 6th places.

Route of the 2024 Milan-San Remo

The route of the Milan-San Remo is like those mythical lineups of football teams that every good fan can recite by heart. A route that has remained unchanged for years and that means the race has several perfectly defined phases and always one of the most intense finishes in professional cycling in a slow-burning crescendo that explodes on the slopes of the Poggio.

The race starts from the outskirts of Milan, specifically from the town of Pavia, which avoids the eternal neutralized start to leave the city and which has even caused some abandonments in some editions due to untimely falls. Since last year, when the start was moved to a nearby town, everything has been easier for the logistics of the race.

A first flat section, like most of the route, takes the race southwest in search of the Ligurian coast, near Genoa. The first part where the peloton takes it easy and lets the breakaway of the day go. It is not until the arrival of the Turchino, a small climb, at least coming from the north, from whose summit you descend straight to the coast. A winding and technical descent where the race stretches out infinitely after an already intense climb that will set the pace for the riders until the finish.

Once on the coast, the terrain becomes friendly again for a good number of kilometers. However, at this point the race is already in full swing and you cannot lose focus. Losing positions in the group means a good effort to return to the front due to the high speed at which you are riding all the time. This accumulates fatigue until reaching the last 70 kilometers of the race where the terrain becomes complicated again.

You reach the so-called "capos", where the coast becomes more rugged, offering us those beautiful snapshots so common in this race, with the road embedded in the rock and where you have to tackle three tough climbs: Capo Mele, Capo Cervo, and Capo Berta, which begin to separate the wheat from the chaff in the peloton and, at the same time, seal the fate of the day's breakaway.

After this, the decisive part of the race arrives, first with the ascent to Cipressa, just over 5 and a half kilometers, very gradual but which usually serves to eliminate some of the favorites and, on the way back to the coast, an approach to the Poggio where the speed of the peloton reaches absurd levels and where no mistakes are allowed. Anyone who wants to compete must be positioned at the front to enter the narrow road of the Poggio in the vanguard.

Ahead, just 3.7 kilometers that even any amateur cyclist can do at full speed with a big gear. Really, if it weren't faced with almost 300 kilometers in the legs and didn't have the tight curves it has, where you even have to use the brakes, it would be nothing more than a long climb. But the hours of intense pedaling and a frantic pace turn these less than four kilometers into a time bomb where anything can happen, even a more or less numerous group reaching the top, and then the race's outcome is decided in a descent just as winding as the climb, where courage and technique can decide the winner, either solo or in a sprint of very select riders.

How to watch the 2024 Milan-San Remo

Next Saturday, March 16 is the date for the Milan-San Remo 2024 and, once again, it will be Eurosport bringing this race to our screens. As the specialized sports channel has been doing in recent years, the race will have full coverage, from the start to the finish. Over 7 hours of broadcast starting at 9:50 on both their apps and on Eurosport 2.



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Dónde ver la Milán-San Remo 2024


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Pogacar em busca de seu quarto monumento na Milão-San Remo 2024


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Pogacar à la chasse de son quatrième monument à Milan-San Remo 2024