It'll be exciting to see Tom Pidcock flying up and down Milan-San Remo's Cipressa and Poggio, says Ineos DS

Ineos Grenadiers head into the first Monument of 2024 with Ganna and Pidcock as leaders as the hunt for win 500 goes on

Clock11:20, Wednesday 13th March 2024
Tom Pidcock (Ineos Grenadiers) heads into Milan-San Remo as a possible contender

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Tom Pidcock (Ineos Grenadiers) heads into Milan-San Remo as a possible contender

Tom Pidcock and Filippo Ganna are set to lead the line for Ineos Grenadiers at Milan-San Remo on Saturday, with both riders in with a chance of victory. Ganna was second in the race last year behind Mathieu van der Poel, while Pidcock was one of the main protagonists in 2021 as he finished 15th on his race debut.

Both riders have seen their form improve in recent weeks, with Pidcock claiming a top-10 in Tirreno-Adriatico and Ganna slowing building his condition and form after an illness-hit winter.

Ineos Grenadiers also have former Milan-San Remo winner Michal Kwiatkowski and Jhonatan Narváez within their ranks for the first Monument of the season, but Ganna and Pidcock are expected to start as protected riders for the Cipressa and Poggio finale.

“It’s a big objective for both Tom and Filippo," Steve Cummings told GCN from the Ineos team car as he reconned the route.

"Tom did a pretty good time trial at Tirreno-Adriatico, and he was up there and around the GC riders. That shows he’s improving in that discipline. It was his first top-10 in a WorldTour stage race, which is good, and he did a good job for Thymen [Arensman] on stage 5.

"We want to do a good race in Milan-San Remo, we want an exciting race, and Tom wants to play his cards as best he can. It’ll be exciting to see him flying up and down the Cipressa and Poggio.

“Same with Filippo really. He did really well last year and Milan-San Remo is always a race he looks forward to. While Tirreno wasn’t as good as he hoped for, sometimes that’s a good thing because you can go home, rest, and make that next step for the race. It’s exciting and they both complement each other well.”

More Bernal progress as hunt for 500th win goes on

Ineos are chasing their 500th win since their formation in 2010. Milan-San Remo would be a fairytale race in which to reach that milestone, 14 years after Greg Henderson took Team Sky’s maiden win at the Cancer Council Helpline Classic in January of 2010.

The British squad went into both Tirreno-Adriatico and Paris-Nice chasing that vital win but came up short in that quest. There were still positives to take from both races, with Egan Bernal finishing seventh overall in France to secure his best stage race result since his life-threatening crash at the start of 2022.

Ineos Grenadiers still have ground to make up their main stage racing rivals, such as UAE Team Emirates and Visma-Lease a Bike, but Pidcock, Arensman, and Bernal all demonstrated consistency and improvement as the squad looks to continue its rebuild towards Tour de France success.

“There were definitely positives. The team had a really strong performance,” said Cummings, referring to Paris-Nice.

“We didn’t have the horsepower to follow the best riders, which was a shame. Stage 7 was better on paper for Egan and even Carlos [Rodríguez], but it was shortened, and that didn’t help us. Then on stage 8 Egan crashed on the twisty downhill and Carlos was held up. We had to use the whole team, and Egan did a phenomenal ride just to get back to where he was on the final day.

"By the time he came back, the three leaders had gone clear, so there was a bit of frustration but it was a good team performance. We’re still behind the favourites, though, and you can see that gap,” he added.

Rodriguez finished off the pace and struggled in the poor weather during Paris-Nice but the Spaniard does have time to rediscover his form during the spring and early summer. He was fifth in the Tour de France last year and won a stage on his debut, but Bernal’s impressive performance has certainly helped his chances of making the Tour team, too.

It’s far too early to suggest whether the former winner can compete for a top-10 overall in July, but the signs are encouraging. The Colombian heads to the Volta a Catalunya later this month, where he will go up against the likes of Tadej Pogačar (UAE Team Emirates) and Sepp Kuss (Visma-Lease a Bike).

“We’ve got to manage our expectations, and he’s got to manage his,” Cummings said of Bernal.

“It’s clear that he’s still improving but there’s still a gap. So we keep doing the same thing but it’s unfair to expect a switch overnight. The longer climbs at Catalunya suit him more on paper than perhaps Paris-Nice, so we’ll see where he is at that point.”

Visit our Milan-San Remo preview for all the key info about the route and contenders ahead of this year's race.

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