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SANREMO Breakdown: Was It a Classic La Primavera?

Race Breakdown: On Saturday we were treated to a final hour of ‘full on’ racing in the first Monument of 2024 – Milano-Sanremo. Tadej Pogačar threw the gauntlet down and the other top favourite, Mathieu van der Poel took it on. The problem for the Slovenian champion was that the World champion wasn’t the only rider ready for the battle of the Poggio. Here is the ‘PEZ Sanremo Breakdown’.

# Read the full PEZ ‘Race Report’ with lots of photos HERE. #
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Sanremo 2024
It’s a long way from Milan (Pavia) to the finale

Let’s be honest, the first five hours of Milan-Sanremo is fairly unexciting. A break goes early and the race situation stays that way until we see some action when the race hits the climbs of the Tre Capi: the Capo Mele, the Capo Cervo and the Capo Berta with about 50 kilometres to go. The speed picks up over these climbs to rid the peloton of the fast-finishers. Then comes the Cipressa and the Poggio di Sanremo and all the fireworks we have been waiting for all that time. This year’s edition was slightly different. First the peloton didn’t give the ‘break of the day’ free passage and held them to under 3 minutes. The second difference was that Tadej Pogačar wanted a high pace on the Cipressa to soften the opposition for a big attack, either there or on the Poggio.

Milano-Sanremo 2024
The UAE Team Emirates’ plan didn’t come off

As we now know, UAE Team Emirates’ plan didn’t work. This was partially due to Marc Hirschi not being able to take his place in the climbing lead-out, which meant Isaac Del Toro and Tim Wellens had to start their work too early. Del Toro tried his best, but blew, then when Wellens had finished his stint on the front to jettison Pogačar up the Cipressa, it was neither hard enough nor a surprise to the other riders. What should have been the first big battle, came to nothing.

Sanremo 2024
Pogačar’s attacks came to nothing

The favourites climbed the Cipressa in 9:28, nine seconds slower than the 1996 record of 9:19, but much faster than the 9:50 of 2023. UAE’s team DS, Joxean ‘Matxin’ Fernández said that Pogačar had to climb the Cipressa in less than 9 minutes – That didn’t happen. Although a record was set on the Poggio. Van der Poel’s 2023 time of 5:40 was broken, by 1 second, according to Dutch website, WielerFlits, Pogačar and Van der Poel crested the Poggio summit in 5:39. Last year the riders had a strong tailwind of approximately 29kph on the climb, this year there was a crosswind of 9kph. Van der Poel then changed his race tactic and followed the attacks of Pogačar. The World champion was straight onto the Slovenian wheels when he made his first attack, but his second move, just before the top, surprised Van der Poel, but he clawed his way back. The two top favourites had a small lead as they started the twisting descent to Sanremo. Last year’s winner came past Pogačar, was he easing off to let his teammate Jasper Philipsen catch up, or was he keeping his own options open?

Milano-Sanremo 2024
Mohorič tried to do what he is best at

A lead group came together and predictably Matej Mahorič attacked, and it was Van der Poel who chased him down on the flat final kilometres to the Via Roma. The World champion, last year’s Sanremo winner, sacrificed his chances for Philipsen, who had told his leader he had the legs for the win. Van der Poel put the Belgian in the perfect position to sprint for the win. Michael Matthews fought hard, but Philipsen came past on the inside of the Australian, next to the barriers and lunged for the line. The win was Philipsen’s and it was two-years in a row for Alpecin-Deceuninck.

Milan-sanremo 2024
Philipsen came through on the inside

Was this a Classic Milano-Sanremo?
The last hour was ‘stunning’, no argument. It was the fastest Primavera ever, but by rider accounts it wasn’t a tough race. “Too easy an edition for the climbers, because this was one of the easiest races ever,” Tadej Pogačar said after the finish. Pogačar titled the race: ‘Easy spin with some friends’ on Strava. “Not super heavy,” said Van der Poel. So it was the fastest Milano-Sanremo, ever, and two of the top riders in the world say ‘it wasn’t that difficult’.

Milano-Sanremo 2024
An 288 kilometre ‘easy spin with friends’

The World Champion didn’t have the pleasure of ‘doing the double’ and in the rainbow jersey, but it was all for the team: “Of course winning yourself is the best thing, although winning twice in a row with the team is also very special.” Van der Poel pointed out that Milano-Sanremo is his first race of this year and his big spring goals are still come; the Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix. These are races that Jasper Philipsen can be of help to his Dutch leader. One good turn deserves another.

Sanremo 2024
Philipsen will be on hand to help the World champion in the coming Classics

For the Alpecin-Deceuninck team and the brothers Christoph and Philip Roodhooft, this was their fifth Monument – Four with Mathieu van der Poel and now one with Jasper Philipsen. In the 2020 Tour of Flanders, Van der Poel beat Wout van Aert in the sprint. Two years later he did the same to Dylan van Baarle, Valentin Madouas and Tadej Pogačar for his second Flanders. In 2023, Van der Poel took the team’s first Sanremo, followed by Paris-Roubaix. And now Jasper Philipsen has won Milan-Sanremo again for the team. Not bad for a team that started in 2017 as a cyclo-cross squad.

Sanremo 2024
Philipsen knew he had the legs

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