Van der Poel Wins Milano-Sanremo
Milan-San Remo - the first Spring Classic of the 2023 season – was contested in Italy earlier today. It was the 114th edition of the Classicissima and the last Milano-Sanremo for former World Champion Peter Sagan (TotalEnergies).
The route was designed as a long and grueling 294-kilometer race from Abbiategrasso to Sanremo and featured the Passo del Turchino mountain pass after 143.5-kilometers, followed by the Capo Mele, Capo Cervo, and Capo Berta later in the race. The route then culminated with the legendary Cipressa and Poggio di Sanremo climbs in the final part of the race.
Attacks were launched shortly after the start of the race and a group of breakaway hopefuls from smaller teams was formed. The group featured Jayco-Alula’s Alexandre Balmer and Jan Maas, Astana-Quzaqstan’s Alexandr Riabushenko, Alois Charrin (Tudor Pro Cycling Team), Negasi Haylu Abreha (Q.36.5 Pro Cycling Team), Alessandro Tonelli and Samuele Zoccarato of Team Green Project-Bardiani CSF Faizane, and Eolo-Kometa’s Mirco Maestri and Samuele Rivi.
The breakaway group never gained an advantage of more than three minutes on the main peloton, but riders from the small teams have surely been applauded by their respective sports directors for the TV-time they secured for the team sponsors.
With 38 kilometers to the finish line, riders started dropping from the breakaway group while the remaining attackers carried on – albeit with an advantage of less than a minute on the main peloton led by the Lotto-Dstny, EF Education-EasyPost, Jumbo-Visma and Ineos-Grenadiers teams. Meanwhile, at the back of the peloton, former World Champion Mark Cavendish (Astana Qazaqstan Team) was dropped – this was clearly not going to be his day of glory.
34 kilometers from the finish a crash involving DSM and Bora-Hansgrohe riders occurred as a result of the aggressive competition for positions in the peloton as the peloton closed in on the often-decisive Cipressa climb.
The Jan Tratnik (Team Jumbo-Visma) and Michal Kwiatkowski (Ineos-Grenadiers) duo crashed with 30 kilometers left to race, but Kwiatkowski was quick to remount and rejoin the peloton.
Lotto-Destny set a fast pace and led the peloton onto the Cipressa, closely followed by Ineos-Grenadiers. UAE Team Emirates later took to the front in support of their team leader Tadej Pogacar.
As the peloton descended from the top of the Cipressa, Matteo Trentin (UAE Team Emirates), Mathieu van der Poel (Alpecin-Deceuninck), Søren Kragh Andersen (Alpecin-Deceuninck) and Magnus Cort (EF Education-EasyPost) took to the front of the peloton, hoping to gain an advantage on the competitors, but the peloton was reunited with 17 kilometers left, while defending champions Bahrain-Victorious dominated at the front to set their preferred pace.
Ef Education-EasyPost’s Alberto Bettiol led the peloton together with Bahrain-Victorious as the riders entered the Poggio – the final climb of the route.
Benoit Cosnefroy (AG2R-Citroen) moved closer to the front together with Mads Pedersen (Trek-Segafredo) on the Poggio, while Tim Wellens (UAE Team Emirates) set a devastating pace at the front for team captain Tadej Pogacar.
Pogacar attacked with 6.5 kilometers left to ride but was quickly joined by Filippo Ganna (Ineos-Grenadiers), Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma) and van der Poel.
Van der Poel then launched a solo attack as the riders descended from the Poggio. Van Aert initiated a chase and was joined by Pogacar and Ganna.
Van der Poel won Milano-Sanremo 2023 in 06:25:23. Meanwhile, Ganna attacked from the chasing trio behind and crossed the finish line in second place. Van Aert took third. Pogacar finished fourth, closely followed by Kragh Andersen in fifth, while Pedersen was sixth and EF Education-EasyPost’s Neilson Powless 7th.
“This is a special win in a very special race. It's so difficult to win here,” race winner van der Poel told Roadcycling.com shortly after crossing the finish line in Sanremo. “I wasn’t hiding in Tirreno-Adriatico, I just wasn’t on my best level. We had a great week of training with all the team, and they did a great job for me today. The victory is amazing, and we will celebrate for sure.”
“I probably rode too defensively in my first three Milano-Sanremo participations. It’s the easiest Monument to ride, but the most difficult to win. Having won it now, 62 years after my grandfather Raymond Poulidor, makes me proud and happy.”
Runner-up finisher Ganna said he was disappointed with his result. “I got a lot of second places this year, but today’s is very special. I thank my teammates for their support. In the end, van der Poel put a good effort and it split the bunch. I think I’ve done my best. I’m a little bit disappointed to finish second, yet I’m satisfied with my performance.”
“I have to be satisfied with this third top 3 at Milano-Sanremo,” third-place finisher Van Aert explained to Roadcycling.com after the podium celebrations. “I have no regret about how the race went. Mathieu showed everybody that he was super strong. He delivered a strong move at the right moment. It was high-speed all day, but it was easier on the Cipressa than we expected.”
“There was more headwind than anybody expected. It brought a big group to the Poggio. It was a nice group at the front in the end. I was in the company of really strong guys. But we race for winning and congrats to Mathieu. He was super strong,” van Aert concluded.
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