Pogacar, Van Aert and Pedersen poised showdown on the Poggio
Ganna and Jakobsen hopeful; Van der Poel makes season debut
British hopes on shoulders of team-mates Pidcock and Hayter
Peloton scheduled to reach Capo Mele at approximately 2.40pm
Fireworks set to go off on Poggio di Sanremo at around 3.43pm
Ciao, buon giorno!
Hello and welcome to our live rolling blog from the 113th edition of Milan-Sanremo, the 293-kilometre one-day classic from Milan to, you’ve guessed it, Sanremo.
Racing gets under way at 8.10am (GMT), but as the vast majority of readers will know Milan-Sanremo is a slow-burner of a race with very little of importance happening in the opening few hours. For that reason, Telegraph Sport will be monitoring the peloton as it weaves its way towards the final 125km before firing up the live blog ‘proper’ at around 1pm.
Today’s race is the first of five monuments of the cycling season – the others being Tour of Flanders, Paris-Roubaix, Liège-Bastogne-Liège and Il Lombardia – and is the longest one-day race on the calendar.
The late Tom Simpson became the first British rider to win Milan-Sanremo in 1964 when he outwitted Frenchman Raymond Poulidor on the final Poggio climb before adding the first of three monuments to his palmarès. Mark Cavendish became the second and, as yet, only other Briton to win the race after pipping Heinrich Haussler to the line in 2009. Although both Cavendish and Haussler are competing at the highest level of the sport, neither were selected by their teams.
Italians have dominated the race since its inception in 1907 where they have won 51 of the 112 editions. Following a relative drought for the host nation, Vincenzo Nibali ended a 12-year wait for Italy with his win in 2018 – Filippo Pozzato (2006) being the previous Italian to prevail. Belgium is the second most successful nation with 22 victories following last year’s win from Jasper Stuyven.
Although often referred to as a sprinters’ classic, over the years the race has been won by general classification riders, all-rounders and those ordinarily suited to the cobbles of northern Europe. Indeed, recent editions have been won after attacks on the final climb of the day, the Poggio, held all the way to the line, thus denying the pure sprinters the gallop finish they had been thinking of for the preceding seven hours.
Nibali may not be on the start line in the famous old Vigorelli Velodrome today, but last year he spoke at length about the race the Italians call la classicissima. Nibali’s words perfectly encapsulate the race he described as a ‘long procession’, though a procession that requires concentration from start to its frenetic finale.
“For 280 kilometres, Milan-Sanremo is like a long procession,” Nibali said. “It’s the calm before the storm because in just 20 kilometres, it becomes the hottest race, one that doesn’t forgive. Each edition is a story. Everyone knows what awaits, but no one knows what can happen from Cipressa onwards. It’s the most open classic in terms of characteristics but must be approached with the utmost attention to detail.
“Everyone knows that the decisive points are now the Cipressa and Poggio. But you can’t have any distractions in the long route that takes you there, starting from the neutral start, 7.6 kilometres in Milan from Castello Sforzesco to Via della Chiesa Rossa. Here the tram tracks are tricky, everyone knows this, but still someone always ends up on the ground, his race ending before beginning.
“From kilometre zero, you have to take maniacal care to eat and drink; otherwise you may end up out of reserves at a key moment. I still remember my first participation, fully motivated and gritty, my head was only set on [the] last 20 kilometres. And then, on the Capi, suddenly the lights went out and it was game over.
“Then you still have to know when to stop to pee, and not risk spending unnecessary energy to get back. Or thinking about the proper clothing for the right moment: not too light to feel cold, but also not too heavy to sweat too much.
“Even if you’ve done everything right, from Capo Mele onwards, 60 kilometres from the finish, you’re only halfway there. From that point the battle for positions begins. Watchword: being in the front. Any energy spent recovering position is one less chance to win. The Cipressa is the first test, the first selection. But be careful, don’t let yourself be deceived. Even if you pass it with ease, then comes the Poggio which, between the two, is the climb that often remains more indigestible. What happens next is what remains in the annals, what will be written in the Milan-Sanremo history for that year.”
Starting list of riders at today’s race
Ag2r-Citroën (Fra): Mikaël Cherel (Fra), Benoît Cosnefroy (Fra), Bob Jungels (Lux), Greg Van Avermaet (Bel), Gijs Van Hoecke (Bel), Andrea Vendrame (Ita), Larry Warbasse (US).
Astana Qazaqstan (Kaz): Leonardo Basso (Ita), Manuele Boaro (Ita), Fabio Felline (Ita), Yevgeniy Gidich (Kaz), Davide Martinelli (Ita), Gianni Moscon (Ita), Artyom Zakharov (Kaz).
Bahrain Victorious (Brn): Yukiya Arashiro (Jpn), Phil Bauhaus (Ger), Damiano Caruso (Ita), Jonathan Milan (Ita, neo-pro), Matej Mohoric (Slo), Jasha Sütterlin (Ger), Jan Tratnik (Slo).
BikeExchange-Jayco (Aus): Lawson Craddock (US), Luke Durbridge (Aus), Alex Edmondson (Aus), Alexander Konychev (Ita), Michael Matthews (Aus), Cameron Meyer (Aus), Luka Mezgec (Slo).
Bora-Hansgrohe (Ger): Giovanni Aleotti (Ita, neo-pro), Cesare Benedetti (Ita), Marco Haller (Aut), Ryan Mullen (Irl), Ide Schelling (Hol), Danny van Poppel (Ned).
Cofidis (Fra): Davide Cimolai (Ita), Simone Consonni (Ita), Bryan Coquard (Fra), Simon Geschke (Ger), Pierre-Luc Périchon (Fra), Szymon Sajnok (Pol), Davide Villella (Ita).
DSM (Ger): Nico Denz (Ger), Nils Eekhoff (Ned), Chris Hamilton (Aus), Soren Kragh Andersen (Den), Andreas Leknessund (Nor, neo-pro), Joris Nieuwenhuis (Ned), Kevin Vermaerke (US, neo-pro).
EF Education-EasyPost (US): Alberto Bettiol (Ita), Owain Doull (GB), Jonas Rutsch (Ger), Tom Scully (NZ), James Shaw (GB), Michael Valgren (Den), Julius van den Berg (Ned).
Groupama-FDJ (Fra): Clément Davy (Fra, neo-pro), Arnaud Démare (Fra), Kevin Geniets (Hol), Ignatas Konovalovas (Ltu), Quentin Pacher (Fra), Anthony Roux (Fra), Miles Scotson (Aus).
Ineos Grenadiers (GB): Filippo Ganna (Ita), Ethan Hayter (GB), Michal Kwiatkowski (Pol), Tom Pidcock (GB, neo-pro), Luke Rowe (GB), Ben Swift (GB), Elia Viviani (Ita).
Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux (Bel): Biniam Ghirmay Hailu (Eri), Alexander Kristoff (Nor), Andrea Pasqualon (Ita), Simone Petilli (Ita), Lorenzo Rota (Ita), Rein Taaramae (Est), Loïc Vliegen (Bel).
Israel-Premier Tech (Isr): Matthias Brändle (Aut), Alexander Cataford (Can), Alex Dowsett (GB), Omer Goldstein (Isr), Krists Neilands (Lat), Giacomo Nizzolo (Ita), Rick Zabel (Ger).
Jumbo-Visma (Ned): Edoardo Affini (Ita), Christophe Laporte (Fra), Primoz Roglic (Slo), Wout van Aert (Bel), Tosh Van der Sande (Bel), Jos van Emden (Ned), Nathan Van Hooydonck (Bel).
Lotto-Soudal (Bel): Filippo Conca (Ita, neo-pro), Frederik Frison (Bel), Philippe Gilbert (Bel), Roger Kluge (Ger), Maxim Van Gils (Bel, neo-pro), Florian Vermeersch (Bel).
Movistar (Spa): Alex Aranburu (Spa), Will Barta (US), Iñigo Elosegui (Spa), Iván García Cortina (Spa), Abner González (Pur, neo-pro), Max Kanter (Ger), Gonzalo Serrano (Spa).
Quick Step-Alpha Vinyl (Bel): Andrea Bagioli (Ita), Davide Ballerini (Ita), Mattia Cattaneo (Ita), Mikkel Frolich Honore (Den), Fabio Jakobsen (Ned), Florian Sénéchal (Fra), Zdenek Stybar (Cze).
Trek-Segafredo (US): Gianluca Brambilla (Ita), Tony Gallopin (Fra), Alex Kirsch (Lux), Jacopo Mosca (Ita), Mads Pedersen (Den), Simon Pellaud (Fra), Toms Skujins (Lat).
UAE Team Emirates (UAE): Alessandro Covi (Ita), Davide Formolo (Ita), Ryan Gibbons (SA), Tadej Pogacar (Slo), Jan Polanc (Slo), Oliviero Troia (Ita), Diego Ulissi (Ita).
Alpecin-Fenix (Bel): Silvan Dillier (Swi), Michael Gogl (Aut), Stefano Oldani (Ita), Jasper Philipsen (Bel), Kristian Sbaragli (Ita), Robert Stannard (Aus), Mathieu van der Poel (Ned).
Arkéa-Samsic (Fra): Maxime Bouet (Fra), Nacer Bouhanni (Fra), Romain Hardy (Fra), Kévin Ledanois (Fra), Laurent Pichon (Fra), Clément Russo (Fra), Connor Swift (GB).
Bardiani-CSF-Faizane (Ita): Luca Covili (Ita), Filippo Fiorelli (Ita), Davide Gabburo (Ita), Sacha Modolo (Ita), Luca Rastelli (Ita), Alessandro Tonelli (Ita), Filippo Zana (Ita).
Drone Hopper-Androni Giocattoli (Ita): Eduard-Michael Grosu (Rou), Umberto Marengo (Ita), Didier Merchan (Col), Jhonatan Restrepo (Col), Filippo Tagliani (Ita), Ricardo Alejandro Zurita (Spa).
Eolo-Kometa (Ita): Vincenzo Albanese (Ita), Davide Bais (Ita), Francesco Gavazzi (Ita), Mirco Maestri (Ita), Samuele Rivi (Ita), Diego Rosa (Ita), Diego Pablo Sevilla (Spa).
TotalEnergies (Fra): Edvald Boasson Hagen (Nor), Maciej Bodnar (Pol), Niccolo Bonifazio (Ita), Daniel Oss (Ita), Peter Sagan (Svk), Julien Simon (Fra), Anthony Turgis (Fra).