Often, Milan-San Remo ends with a sprint of a decimated peloton, but for last year’s race Michal Kwiatkowski, Peter Sagan and Julian Alaphilippe wanted something else. And not only that, they delivered. Sagan sparked the breakaway on the Poggio and was joined by the other two. The trio flew down the hill in brilliant style and stayed ahead of the chasing peloton in the last kilometres on the flat. Kwiatkowki bested Sagan in a photo-finish sprint.
Milan-San Remo has thrown up more than its fair share of surprises in its history, still, sprinters who are in the mix at the top of the Poggio are the ones who are the likely victors. Or will we see a Kwiatkowski/Sagan/Alaphilippe-like scenario this year? Or, even more impressive, a solo-win in Fabian Cancellara fashion? Ten years ago the now retired Swizz performed a master piece to jump clear from the peloton with 2 kilometres to go and finish 4 seconds ahead of the troops.
When thinking of a rider in perfect shape right now, the name of title defender Michal Kwiatkowski springs to mind. This week, the Pole won the GC at the Tirreno-Adriatico and last month he pocketed the Volta ao Algarve. Looking at fast men, Elivia Viviani and Marcel Kittel are most successful this season – the Italian in numbers (winning five stages in smaller races), while the German powered to two wins in the Tirreno. Yet, La Primavera is something else and Kittel is aware of this, downplaying his ambitions for the race he has never before participated in. He is not a good climber and surviving the Cipressa and Poggio will be a big challenge.
Arnaud Démare boosted his confidence with an uphill sprint victory in Paris-Nice’s 1st stage, while Alexander Kristoff won two sprints in Oman and Abu Dhabi and dark horse Alexey Lutsenko took the overall classification in the Tour of Oman.
Mark Cavendish (2009), Alexander Kristoff (2014), Arnaud Démare (2016), Michal Kwiatkowski (2017) – those are former Milan-San Remo winners who are also competing this year. Will we see one of them pocketing his second win at La Primavera, or are we up for a new name on the long list of victors?
Favourites 2018 Milan – San Remo
***** Peter Sagan, Arnaud Démare, Michal Kwiatkowski
**** Greg Van Avermaet, Alexander Kristoff, Elia Viviani
*** Magnus Cort Nielsen, Michael Matthews, Philippe Gilbert, André Greipel
** Fabio Felline, Matej Mohoric, Sacha Modolo, Julian Alaphilippe, Matteo Trentin
* Vincenzo Nibali, Caleb Ewan, Marcel Kittel, Sonny Colbrelli, Jasper Stuyven
Milan-San Remo 2018: Route maps, height profiles, and more.
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