Milan – Sanremo is here! The longest one day race in the professional calendar, it also has a history going back 111 years. La Classicissima, as it’s also known, has seen a mix of sprinters and puncheurs win in recent years – you have to go back to the late 80s to find a GC contender as a winner. Ultimately decided by a sprint to the line, in modern times the late hills of the Cipressa and the Poggio are designed to reduce numbers in the peloton already tired after 270 kilometres of racing.
Milan – Sanremo 2018 Profile
Milan – Sanremo 2018 Contenders
Let’s start with the obvious, the current World Champion Peter Sagan. He’s still yet to add Milan – Sanremo to his palmares, but has finished 2nd twice. Last year’s winner Michal Kwiatkowski is fresh off a stage race win in Tirreno – Adriatico, as long as the sprinters can be distanced on the Poggio, he’ll be in the mix again. UAE have brought a strong team with two options, Alexander Kristoff should be the lead option, but they’ve also got Ben Swift too – between them they’ve got 6 top 10 finishes and a win for Kristoff.
Frenchman Arnaud Demare will be in the hunt, he’s also a former winner and his stage win last week in Paris – Nice shows he’s going well. Michael Matthews has been on the Milan – Sanremo podium before. If he can get over the Poggio and join the sprint, he’ll be in with a chance. Other out and out sprinters like Andre Greipel, Caleb Ewan and Elia Viviani will all require a relatively calm race with none of the attacks on the Poggio sticking. There’s also no guarantee that they’ll make it over the Cipressa with the peloton either – between them they only have 2 top 10s in Milan – Sanremo. Marcel Kittel also falls into this boat – he’ll be making his debut appearance.
Now it’s the turn of the puncheurs. Greg Van Avermaet hasn’t shown a repeat of this 2016 & 2017 form so far this year. We may see that change at Milan – Sanremo. Fellow Belgian Oliver Naesen is also struggling relatively, a best result of 11th for the season at Kuurne – Brussels – Kuurne isn’t what we’re used to. Julian Alaphilippe should provide some fireworks on the Poggio based on last year, he attacked and got clear but lost out to Sagan and Kwiatkowski in the sprint on the Via Roma. He performed well on many individual days in Paris – Nice last week. Finally, Matteo Trentin will lead the Mitchelton-Scott efforts. He has finished in the top 10 before and may be able to keep with the leading group going over the Poggio.
Milan – Sanremo 2018 Outsiders
Heinrich Haussler seems to be undergoing a bit of a renaissance in 2018. Able to finish in the top 15 on punchy stages in Paris – Nice means he may be in the hunt for a top 10. It’s probably far too unlikely he’ll avenge his close loss to Mark Cavendish nearly a decade ago. Vincenzo Nibali has finished in the top 10 twice before, but whilst doing alright so far this season, clearly hasn’t hit the high point of his form so far.
Edvald Boasson Hagen only has a single top 10 result in 8 attempts at Milan – Sanremo. He’s not in the best of form so far this year after an operation over the winter, but we know what he’s capable of. In contrast, Omar Fraile has been seen regularly in the last week after a good Paris – Nice. He finished 2nd in the King of the Mountains, but his 2nd place on the final stage in Nice was particularly impressive. Simon Gerrans makes this list as a previous winner but has been almost anonymous so far this season. Ben Hermans however, has shown his form with a 5th place in elite company on the mountain-top finish of Stage 4 of Tirreno – Adriatico last week.
Italian sprinters Daniele Bennati and Sacha Modolo are leading their teams, both have made the top 10 on numerous times previously – the win is probably out of their reach, but who knows how they’ll fare if it all comes together on the Via Roma for them.
Milan – Sanremo 2018 Prediction
1 – Peter Sagan
2 – Arnaud Demare
3 – Michael Matthews
(we’re due another punchy sprinter year)