Cross world champion Mathieu van der Poel stole the show from superstar Tadej Pogacar and also won the spring classic Milan-Sanremo 62 years after his famous grandfather Raymond Poulidor. After 294 kilometers, the Dutchman won the 114th edition of the race single-handedly ahead of Italian Filippo Ganna and his great Belgian rival Wout van Aert.
Pogacar, who arrived as the big favorite with nine wins this season, had to settle for fourth place and is still waiting for his first success at the Classicissima.
The nine German drivers played no part in the decision. John Degenkolb, who won the race in 2015, was also unable to put himself in the limelight. The German champion Nils Politt had tried an attack 17 kilometers from the finish, but was quickly caught up again.
“There is no better scenario than this. My legs were super fresh. It’s one of the races I really wanted to win. Not only because my grandfather won it, but because it is one of the monuments in cycling. That was the best level today,” said van der Poel, who won the world championship title in cross country at the beginning of the year.
The preliminary decision was made on the Poggio descent, when van der Poel, like Matej Mohoric last year, attacked from a group of four and couldn’t be caught. In the end, the 28-year-old saved 15 seconds to the finish. It’s another classic win for van der Poel, having already won twice at the Tour of Flanders (2020 and 2022).
Poulidor has been on the podium eight times at the Tour
Van der Poel got his cycling genes from his grandfather Poulidor, among others. The Frenchman, who died in November 2019, had won the race in 1961. Poulidor became famous above all through the Tour de France, where he was on the podium eight times in the overall standings, but never won.
Pogacar must continue to wait for success in Sanremo. The two-time Tour de France champion attacked at Poggio, but was unable to break away from his competitors. “My dream would be a solo win,” Pogacar said before the start. But somehow it wasn’t his day. In the neutralization zone before the official start of the race, the Slovenian had to cope with a mishap when he fell, but that didn’t really affect him.
After that, a breakaway group of nine dominated events for a long time, 27 kilometers from the finish they were caught up again on the climb to the Cipressa. During this phase things also became increasingly hectic in the field. There were several falls, including sprinter Sam Bennett (Ireland) from the German Bora-hansgrohe team and ex-winner Michal Kwiatkowski (Poland). The Classics season continues in a week’s time with Gent-Wevelgem, followed by the Tour of Flanders on April 2nd. (dpa)
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