Pogacar, to ride the Poggio in Milan-San Remo

Six hours of effort, close to 300 km covered. The time stops. But suddenly, everything breaks out in what is probably the most exciting race finale in all of cycling. so is the Milan-San Remo (09:45, Eurosport 2), also known as the very classic, appointment that opens the season of monuments and that emanates a unique mystique among all of them. It is cooked over low heat and plated at full speed. Its route is one of the simplest of all the classics, but victory is, in turn, the most sought after, the most difficult to achieve. Surprises are possible (tell Gerald Ciolek in 2013), but this year there are certainty of a show with a first and last name: Tadej Pogacar.

The Slovenian completed his first participation in Milan-San Remo last year with a respectable fifth place, after being the dynamiter of the event. The Slovenian launched up to four beastly attacks in the Poggio (3.7 km at 4%), but he was not able to let go of his rivals, and after Matej Mohoric, after successfully completing a suicidal descent, he accomplished the feat. Now, with more experience, the doubt arises regarding the plan of Pogi: Will he repeat strategy or shake the tree at Cipressa? It is the longest level of the route, after overcoming the ‘Capi’ chain (Mele, Cervo and Berta), and the hardest, but equally undemanding: 5.5 km at 4.1% and maximum ramps of 9%. It is crowned with 21 km to go, so any successful maneuver from there would be quite a feat.

Milan-San Remo 2023: profile of the 114th edition of the Italian classic.


Milan-San Remo 2023: profile of the 114th edition of the Italian classic.

“It is a beautiful race. I know the roads pretty well – I don’t live very far (in Monaco) and sometimes in practice I go up the Poggio. I have imagined many scenarios in my head of how the race could go and I am clear that it is one of the most difficult to win”, Pogacar analyzed in the days prior to one of his great objectives of the year. And the UAE Team Emirates star is right about the difficulty of winning, the record speaks for itself: nobody repeats success in the Classicissima since Erik Zabel, which he won consecutively in 2000 and 2001. Since then, a different winner each year (Oscar Freire won three times, but not in consecutive seasons).

Where there is little room for speculation is in the list of favourites. Apart from the Slovenian, the names that anyone would have in their heads for this appointment are repeated, regardless of whether the outcome is in a massive sprint, a reduced one or a solo finish after the culmination of a crazy descent from the Poggio: Mathieu van der Poel, Biniam Girmay, Mads Pedersen, Wout van Aert, Mohoric, Jasper Philipsen, Arnaud de Lie, Julian Alaphilippe, Arnaud Démare… Among the Spanish assets, the participation of Alex Aranburu (twice 7th), Iván García Cortina, Gonzalo Serrano and a Pello Bilbao who is debuting in this prestigious race stands out. One of those called to give a show on the descent of the Poggio was Tom Pidcock, but Ineos left him out of the call as a precaution after the small concussion suffered by the British in Tirreno-Adriatico as a result of a fall. The Via Roma awaits a new king.

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