Milan-San Remo: UAE Team Emirates hint at Tadej Pogačar attack on the Cipressa

Sports manager Matxin Joxean Fernández calls out Van der Poel as the number one favourite

Clock21:08, Thursday 14th March 2024
Tadej Pogačar (UAE Team Emirates)

© Getty Images

Tadej Pogačar (UAE Team Emirates)

Several rivals are expecting it, and even Tadej Pogačar’s (UAE Team Emirates) own corner is hinting at a possible assault on the Cipressa at Milan-San Remo, as the Slovenian looks to win his first title in the race.

The first Monument of the season is usually battled out on the final slopes of the Poggio, or the daredevil descent towards the finish line, and not since 1996 has a winning move formed on the penultimate ascent of the Cipressa but given Pogačar's blistering 80km solo win in Strade Bianche a fortnight ago, few would rule out a Cipressa attack.

Read more: Milan-San Remo: 10 riders to watch

“Why not? For me, the secret here is riding the Cipressa in under nine minutes,” Pogačar’s sports manager Matxin Joxean Fernández told GCN

“Two years ago Davide Formolo did the climb in 9:30 and only 27 riders were left in the front group. Last year when it was 9:50, there were nearly 70 riders left. This year it’s possible to go under nine minutes. In my opinion, no more than 20 riders can do this. It is very complicated and there’s still 22km from the top of the climb but staying away from that point doesn’t just depend on Tadej but also his rivals. Full gas on the Cipressa, full gas to the Poggio, it’s a hard, hard race. but the plan is to win Milan-San Remo. Tadej is a super rider and we have plans for many situations,” he added.

Read more: A beginner's guide to Milan-San Remo

Pogačar comes into the race on the back of a 100 percent winning record this year after his commanding win in Strade Bianche. Last year he lined up as one of the favourites for Milan-San Remo but was unable to drop his key rivals before Mathieu van der Poel powered clear. The Dutch rider hasn't raced on the road this year but is set to line-up on Saturday's start line.

“In my opinion, the favourite for Milan-San Remo is Mathieu van der Poel. He’s the number one and he’s the last winner of this race,” Fernández added.

According to Fernández, the key to any successful challenge in Milan-San Remo comes down to avoiding mistakes and taking the opportunity at the right moment.

“Tadej, though, is in really good condition. He was in super good condition at Strade Bianche but this race isn’t always decided by super condition. In the last few years, the race has come down to an explosive final five minutes. It’s about good positioning with good legs and there are lots of important points in the race where you can’t make a mistake," he said.

"If you don’t have a good position onto the Cipressa or the Poggio then you end up wasting a lot of energy. In my opinion, this is the most complicated and tactical race of the year. The other Monuments are about power and Milan-San Remo is more about the situation in the race. A few years ago, one corner behind Matej Mohorič decided the race. After 280km this race is decided in the little moments.”

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