We have to go back to 2016 for the last bunch sprint on the Via Roma in San Remo. Arnaud Démare was on the winning end and the Frechman succeeded John Degenkolb, who in turn superseded Alexander Kristoff.
On the last six occasions the Poggio proved too much for most sprinters. Last year it was Tadej Pogacar who put down the hammer down several times. He tried to distance the entire field, but only succeeded in weeding out the sprinters. He reached the sumit with Søren Kragh Andersen, Mathieu van der Poel and Wout van Aert, while Matej Mohoric navigated a small group some twenty metres behind.
Mohoric brought the others back before he opened a gap with a brilliant descent. Turgis tried to bridge across in the streets of San Remo, but didn’t succeed. The Frenchman finished in second and Van der Poel sprinted to third place.
A group of nine riders plunged down to San Remo in 2021 and just before reaching the city Jasper Stuyven jumped clear. Kragh Andersen rejoined him and the Dane pushed hard, while the Belgian sat in the wheels and kicked again in the final 100 metres to hold snatch the win. In 2020, Van Aert outgunned Alaphilippe in a two-up sprint on the Via Roma; three years ago it was Alaphilippe himself who finished it off after a decisive move on the Poggio with Sagan, Van Aert, Valverde, Trentin, Naesen and Kwiatkowski in his wheel; in 2018 Nibali opened up a gap just before the top of the Poggio and zoomed down the descent in triumphant style; Kwiatkowski outsprinted Sagan and Alaphilippe in 2017 after holding off the chasing peloton in the descent of the Poggio.
Skillfull descenders with fast legs, those are the riders to watch at La Primavera. Or the bold and the brave who manage to crest the Poggio solo.
Cavendish (2009), Kristoff (2014), Degenkolb (2015), Démare (2016), Kwiatkowski (2017), Alaphilippe (2019), Van Aert (2020), Stuyven (2021) and Mohoric (2022) did win La Primavera before. Only Kristoff is not competing, as his team, Uno-X, did not receive a wild card.
Favourites 2023 Milan – San Remo
***** Tadej Pogacar, Wout van Aert
**** Mathieu van der Poel, Jasper Philipsen, Mads Pedersen
*** Biniam Girmay, Søren Kragh Andersen, Magnus Cort, Matej Mohoric
** Kasper Asgreen, Julian Alaphilippe, Christophe Laporte, Fernando Gaviria
* Michal Kwiatkowski, Jasper Stuyven, Caleb Ewan, Arnaud De Lie, Arnaud Démare