Wout van Aert rocked up to the Milan-San Remo team presentation with a fresh haircut, another sign that he is ready to race.
“I visited a hairdresser this afternoon. I needed a Milan-San Remo makeover,” van Aert joked before talking race race tactics.
The Jumbo-Visma leader was forced to miss Strade Bianche and extend his altitude training camp after illness slowed his return to training after the UCI Cyclocross World Championships. He also crashed during Tirreno-Adriatico and starts Milan-San Remo without a win in 2023 but insisted he was ready to race.
“I had a different preparation than I expected but I think it’s good enough,” Van Aert said.
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“I had a good Tirreno-Adriatico and feel ready for Milan-San Remo,” he said before heading to his hotel for a final meal of carbs for the near seven-hour, 300km race on Saturday.
“It’s always scary to ride for 300km but it’s a super nice Classic and one of my favourites. I hope to be very good and then maybe gain another percentage point of form for the next races. But I’m good enough to win Milan-San Remo.”
Van Aert chased after Tadej Pogačar numerous times on the Poggio last year, perhaps damaging his own chances. He expects a different race this year that could see attacks as early as the Cipressa from Pogačar but also classic moves on the Poggio and perhaps a chance for the best sprinters.
“I think Pogačar will race differently this time,” Van Aert warned. “I also expect a strong Julian Alaphilippe. He may be a bit underestimated now, but he knows how to perfectly time an attack on the Poggio.
“I’m also aware that Jasper Philipsen could be a threat. I see him getting over the Poggio, too.”