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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Sunday, March 19, 2023

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Every time I see an adult on a bicycle, I no longer despair for the future of the human race. - H. G. Wells

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Milano-Sanremo team reports

We posted the report from third-place Wout van Aert's Team Jumbo-Visma with the results.

Here's the report from second-place Filippo Ganna's Team INEOS Grenadiers:

Filippo Ganna powered to a superb second place thanks to an excellent all-round team performance after a gripping finale of Milan - San Remo, as Mathieu van der Poel won the first Monument of the season.

Ganna was part of a four rider group which escaped on the final Poggio climb, trading attacks ahead of the descent to San Remo. Van der Poel stole on a march on Ganna, Wout van Aert and Tadej Pogacar, with the elite trio unable to pull the Dutch rider back in the closing kilometres.

Ganna then attacked the chase group in the final metres to finish second and secure his best-ever result at a Monument.

Filippo Ganna nabs second place. RCS photo

Earlier, the Grenadiers had been conservative with their efforts, only coming to the fore in the final part of the 294km epic.

Luke Rowe and debutant Kim Heiduk were critical in ensuring a good position for the team heading towards the vital Cipressa climb, which thinned the peloton ahead of the final.

Michal Kwiatkowski was then caught behind a crash which ended his chances, but the Grenadiers rallied as the pace picked up again as the riders approached the Poggio.

Rowe dropped the team near the front of the peloton on the lower slopes, with Ben Swift, Magnus Sheffield and Jhonatan Narváez providing excellent support for Ganna.

Then the Italian time trial champion had to be ready for the key moment of the race as the attacks reigned in on the final part of the Poggio, splitting the already-reduced bunch.

The final four tussled and traded attacks before Van der Poel managed to go clear to win, with Ganna powering to an impressive second from the chase group behind.

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Here's the report from Caleb Ewan's Team Lotto Dstny:

Lotto Dstny rider Caleb Ewan needs to settle for 16th place at the 114th edition of Milano-Sanremo. After a relatively easy build-up, the classical rush to the Cipressa took place. It was debutant De Lie who led his teammate Ewan onto the first hilly parts of the Cipressa in excellent position. Despite a high pace, a sizeable group including Caleb Ewan, Jasper De Buyst and Maxim Van Gils started the descent towards the Poggio.

The peloton climbs the Cipressa. RCS photo

When Team UAE upped the pace drastically on the ultimate climb, the group was ripped to pieces. It was Van der Poel who decided the race with an attack on the Poggio. The Dutchman soloed to victory, Caleb Ewan had to settle for minor placings in the sprint of a reduced bunch on the Via Roma.

Caleb Ewan: “Of course I’m disappointed with this result. Like every year, Milano-Sanremo is a big goal of mine. I’ve been close twice and I felt really good today. My teammates guided me perfectly towards the Cipressa and also during the run-in towards the Poggio, I could count on Jasper and Maxim. Maybe I started the Poggio a little too far back to really make an impact on the race. With the brutal pace on the climb it was incredibly difficult to move up and just like several other sprinters in the group, I had to hope for it to come back to a sprint. Unfortunately, it didn’t.”

The 21-year-old De Lie won’t forget his first Milano-Sanremo soon. Due to a big effort, De Lie was amongst the first to start the ascent of Cipressa, that way making sure Ewan could enter the penultimate climb of the day in good position.

“This Milano-Sanremo was all about gathering experience and I think I already learned a lot from this first participation. Already on the Capi, I realised that I wasn’t on a great day so I decided to help the team and lead Caleb into a good position on the Cipressa. It was quite a kick to start the Cipressa at the very front. I still tried to follow but had to let go just before the top. This was already a good first introduction with Milano-Sanremo and I’m hungry for more”, concludes Arnaud De Lie.

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Julian Alaphilippe's Team Soudal Quick-Step posted this report:

Julian Alaphilippe concluded in 11th place – just ahead of teammate Davide Ballerini – the 114th edition of Milano-Sanremo, which once again proved to be too hard for the sprinters, all taken out of contention when the attacks began on the mythical Poggio. Up until then, the two-time World Champion had a fairly quiet race, staying out of the wind and well protected in the bunch, the only scare coming with 140 kilometers to go, when he was involved in a crash, fortunately with no consequences.

The peloton gets the signal to start the year's longest road race. RCS photo

On the Cipressa, Alaphilippe was at all times in the top 10, and he remained there also on the descent, where French Champion Florian Sénéchal took the front to set the tempo. Unfortunately, he lost some positions in the run-in to the final climb, and when the peloton split two kilometers from the top, he found himself in the chasing group. Despite their best efforts, they arrived some 20-odd seconds behind winner Mathieu van der Poel (Alpecin-Deceuninck) on the Via Roma, where Julian came close to a top 10.

“We had hopes for a good result today, but it wasn’t meant to be. Julian was disappointed by his positioning ahead of the Poggio, that was the key. Before the climb, Florian brought the guys to the front, but then something happened and Julian wasn’t there anymore. It’s a pity, because he had good legs and could have fought for a better result”, said Soudal Quick-Step sports director Wilfried Peeters.

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Here's the Milano-Sanremo report from Marco Haller's Team Bora-hansgrohe:

Today, La Primavera took the riders over almost 300 km from Milan to Sanremo. In contrast to previous years, tailwinds were predicted for the decisive section along the coast to Sanremo, which is why a particularly tough finale was expected. BORA - hansgrohe positioned itself at the front of the peloton about 50 km ahead of the finish, but a crash involving Sam Bennett and Cesare Benedetti put the team a little behind. After the peloton split on the Cipressa, an attack by Nils Polit on the flat section before the Poggio unfortunately remained unsuccessful.

The peloton on the the coast and on its way to Sanremo. RCS photo

On the last climb the main group split again and in the end Marco Haller and Nils Politt reached the finish in the third group in 17th and 21st place. The victory went to Mathieu Van der Poel after he went solo over the last five kilometres.

"Sam's crash threw us off somewhat, and the problem was that there were only two of us in the group after the Cipressa. It's near impossible to ride in a halfway position because you have to save some energy. I was almost the last to enter the Poggio. My legs were feeling good and I kept moving forward. But when gaps open up, you're just left essentially where you are. In the end we almost caught up to the second group. I might have started my sprint a bit too early and three or four riders passed me at the line." - Marco Haller

"I had good legs today. On the Poggio a gap opened up in front of me and I thought that with Asgreen in the group, I’d wait until the very top. But somehow just nobody could. It’s frustrating, because I had more left. When I attacked before the Poggio, nobody wanted to go either. It feels like I was always in the wrong place at the wrong time. The only positive thing is that the form seems to be there, ahead of the races in Belgium." - Nils Politt

"One can't really blame the guys today. We were ahead at the crucial points in the race, and of course we knew that we are not the very top favourites here. That's why we wanted to ride intelligently, save energy and make a surprise. When Cece and Sam crashed, it was of course very unfortunate. First of all, we had hoped for Sam in the sprint, but most of all it threw a spanner in the works right before the Cipressa. After the climb, we only had Nils and Marco in front. Nils tried, but no one wanted to follow him. That was a pity, as we wanted to create some chaos, but it didn’t work out and alone it was pointless. Ultimately, both riders were still close to the top ten. It wasn't enough, but as I already said, we don't really have anything to blame ourselves for." - Enrico Gasparotto, Sports Director

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