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Milano - San Remo

A former winner leads the selection

This Saturday, the first Monument of the season awaits Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux. The World Team is one of the protagonists in Milano-San Remo (1.UWT, 19/03) for the third time in its history and honored its first two participations with an offensive race style. Belgian riders Loïc Vliegen and Aimé De Gendt dynamited the final in the summer edition of 2020 and were imitated a couple of months later by Taco van der Hoorn who rode in the lead of the race for more than 270 kilometer. 

For its 113th edition, the classic follows a traditional parcours. With its distance of 298 kilometer it is the longest one day race on the calendar. From the Piazza del Duomo in Milan, the riders have to accomplish 140 kilometer towards the Ligurian Sea in the direction of Genova, where they will encounter the Passo del Turchino, the first categorized climb of the day.

The second race half brings the riders towards the south-west, with five well-known difficulties in the final 50 kilometer: the Capo Mele, which animated the Trofeo Laigueglia, the Capo Cervo, the Capo Berta, the Cipressa and the Poggio di Sanremo, with the top 12 kilometer before the finish line. 

The selection of Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux is led by a former winner in the person of Alexander Kristoff. The Norwegian rider won the edition of 2014 in a sprint with twenty riders in bad weather conditions, before almost repeating this performance one year later as he was only defeated by John Degenkolb. Kristoff finished six times in the top ten in ten participations.

Eritrean rider Biniam Girmay was tenth in Milano-Torino in the slipstream of the Norwegian rider last Wednesday and will line up for the first Monument in his career. Two weeks before his 22nd birthday, the U23 World Championships silver medallist finished four times in the top ten in ten days, among whom three in Paris-Nice. 26 year old Lorenzo Rotawill participate for the seventh time in a row after a strong start of the season, for example on his home soil with a fourth place in the Trofeo Laigueglia or a thirteenth place in the Strade Bianche. 

They will be accompanied by Italian riders Andrea Pasqualon and Simone Petilli, who distuinguished themselves this season by alternating a role in support for the team and brilliant individual performances. First named finished eighth in Omloop het Nieuwsblad and Petilli took ninth place in the Strade Bianche. Just like Pasqualon, Belgian rider Loïc Vliegen will defend the colors of the Belgian World Team in the Primavera for the third time in a row. One year after opening the final on the Cipressa in the edition of 2020, the rider from Herve was on his way to finish in the first group until a crash in the descent of the Poggio stopped him. Estonian rider Rein Taaramäe, who participated in ten Monuments during his career, will discover Milano-San Remo at the age of 34 and under de direction of Valerio Piva, Aike Visbeek and Ioannis Tamouridis.

« For the first time in my career, I chose for Tirreno-Adriatico instead of Paris-Nice before Milano-San Remo. This choice was convenient because it didn't only reduce my travel time and fatigue, but it also enabled me to add Milano-Torino to my calendar and achieve third place. In contrary to last year, when I got sick after Paris-Nice, I left the Race of the Two Seas with an improving conditions. I won and obtained several podium places this season, my good speed was again confirmed last Wednesday. So I'm optimistic and confident for my sprint in Milano - San Remo, but the most essential point is actually surviving the selection in order to be able to sprint. »   « Compared to the edition I won, the final is slightly different. Back then the finish was not in the Via Roma but 1 kilometer further. This extra kilometer was in favor of a sprint and that's why the chance of a late attack is higher now. On Saturday, we also have Biniam Girmay in our roster. He's a big talent, fast rider and better climber than I. He will be a protected rider as well for the hypothesis in which the race explodes on the climbs. Because even though it is difficult to make a difference on the Poggio, you can't exclude anything with competitors such as Pogacar or Van Aert. They are editing all scenarios. »

« It is an honor for me to participate in Milano-San Remon the first Monument in my career, especially alongside a champion such as Alexander Kristoff. He's among the best riders in the world and in my opinion he's one of the favorites as he already won one edition and finished several times in the top ten. I'll get the opportunity to learn from his experience in the longest race on the calendar, just like it was already the case in Milano-Torino. For example, fighting for positions in a compact peloton and a technical final is one of the points I can improve and I already learned alongside him on Wednesday. This Saturday my goal will be to gain experience and to pursue my progression as a rider. »


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