Top-favourite for a few years now, but his best performance to date was 2nd place in 2013. Last edition he fell short in the sprint of a small pack and finished 10th. Tinkoff-Saxo reeled him in to bring success in the spring classics. Winning La Primavera would be a great start.
In 2014, Cavendish had the same problem as Sagan. Coming over the Poggio, the wear and tear in beastly weather had worn him out and the sprint eluded him. In 2009 he took Milan-San Remo by surprise, anno 2015 he is experienced and strong enough to survive the Cipressa and Poggio. Looking at his performace in the recent Dubai Tour with taking two stage-wins and surviving a tough hilly stage, he is hungry as well.
The Walloon has said he wants to win Milan-San Remo for the first time in his career, before targeting the Ardennes Classics. Since the finish-line is now 2 kilometres and not 3kilometers after the Poggio is to the advantage of attackers like him. In 2008 and 2011, Gilbert finished 3rd in La Primavera, his best performances to date.
Always in the mix in Milan-San Remo, his recipe for 2015 is simple: drop both sprinters and attackers on the Cipressa or Poggio and power to the finish without looking back. In 2008 he won Milan-San Remo by sticking to above recipe. Since the Swiss is not the fastest men in the pack he has to get rid of the likes Gilbert and Gerrans. That said, after 300 kilometres in the saddle you’ll never know. Last year Cancellara sprinted to 2nd place in San Remo, before Cavendish and Sagan.
The 27-year old Norwegian won last edition somewhat surprising, but proved himself in the remainder of the season with a double stage win in the Tour de France. He will definitely not be dropped easy on the Poggio, just one look at his strong performances in the Tour of Flanders of recent years and Gilbert et al might start to get miserable. To complicate matters further for his opponents, Kristoff finished 8th on the hilly course of the recent World Cup in Ponferrada.
Had he not punctured at the foot of the Poggio last year, Degenkolb may have threatened Kristoff in the sprint. Same type of riders as the current titleholder. Both Degenkolb and Kristoff combine power climbing with a thunderous sprint. In recent Dubai Tour he powered to the win on a 17% ramp, so it looks like the uphills will not scare him it all in 2015.
Another ‘climbing sprinter’, Matthews did win three Vuelta-stages in his young career. Last year Degenkolb outperformed him, but of course the 24-year-old Australian still has ample opportunities to grow. Definitely one of the main contenders for the future in Milan-San Remo. Did the future start yet?
Milan – San Remo 2015: Route maps, height profiles, and more
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Start and finish at Google Maps
Milan – San Remo Tweets
How MSR was won in 2014