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Van der Poel is the first Dutchman to win Milan-San Remo in 38 years

'Cross world champion joins grandfather on roll of honour

Photo by: Sirotti

Mathieu van der Poel won Saturday’s Milan-San Remo, the first Monument of the season. Van der Poel attacked a group containing Tadej Pogačar, Wout Van Aert and Filippo Ganna on the Poggio to claim a famous victory. He is the first Dutchman to win Milan-San Remo since Hennie Kuiper in 1985. In 1961, van der Poel’s grandfather Raymond Poulidor took the Milan-San Remo flowers. Hugo Houle was the top Canadian in 65th.

The Course

La Classicissima di primavera is a long race at 294 km. Whew! Starting at the 52 km to go, the Capi climbs come in quick succession: Capo Mele, Capo Cervo and Capo Berta are all 2.5 to 3 km long and 4.1 to 5.2 percent. The key climbs are faced in the final half hour: the Cipressa, 5.6 km of 4.1 percent; and the Poggio, 3.7 km of 3.7 percent. From the Poggio’s crest the road plunges down past the greenhouses to finish on the Via Roma.

Tadej Pogačar crashed in the neutralized zone in the Milan-adjacent start town of Abbiategrasso. A breakaway of nine riders mostly from ProTeam outfits bounced free soon after the start. Soudal-QuickStep, Jumbo-Visma and Trek-Segafredo kept the nontet close. Near the top of the Passo del Turchino Julian Alaphilippe was caught up in a crash. After Turchino, the race reached the coast and headed for San Remo, Trek-Segafredo leading the peloton towards the Capi.

The race 2/3 completed, and the Capi 50 km to the southwest on the Ligurian coast, the escapees had a 2:30 gap, Deceuninck-Alpecin, EF Education-Easypost and Bora-Hansgrohe all pitching in with the pace-making. On Capo Mele, the first fugitive dropped away.

With frenetic positioning at the front of the fully focused peloton, more breakaways were unhitched on Capo Berta, and Mark Cavendish went out the back of the field. The final fugitives were sopped up before the Cipressa.

The Cipressa

Ineos and then Lotto-Dstny took the reins at the foot of the Cipressa. UAE-Emirates grabbed the wheel. Lotto-Dstny’s Arnaud de Lie couldn’t hang anymore.

Pogacar’s UAE-Emirates pulls up the Cipressa.

Van der Poel led over the top and down the other side. Between the famed climbs a single rider attacked but, discouraged by a lack of co-conspirators, he give it up.

The Poggio

Reigning champion Matej Mohoric’s Bahrain-Victorious yanked along the reduced bunch. Pogačar and teammate Tim Wellens attacked to string it out and then split it. Pogačar made another thrust. Ganna, Van Aert and van der Poel were able to go with him.

Van der Poel launched with around 800 meters to climb and led down past the greenhouses. Van Aert was at the front of the chasing trio. But the pursuit could make up no ground on the world cyclocross champion. Pogačar didn’t make the podium.

The next one-day WorldTour race is Classic Brugge-De Panne on March 22.

2023 Milan-San Remo
1) Mathieu van der Poel (The Netherlands/Alpecin-Deceuninck) 6:25:23
2) Filippo Ganna (Italy/Ineos Grenadiers) +0:15
3) Wout Van Aert (Belgium/Jumbo-Visma) s.t.
65) Hugo Houle (Canada/Israel-Premier Tech) +1:48
98) Derek Gee (Canada/Israel-Premier Tech) +6:01