Pogacar, Ganna, Van Aert and the winner Van der Poel: there is no other classic that allows such technically different riders to find themselves next to each other punching the pedals
Those last ten minutes are the exciting synthesis of cycling, of its great human and technical beauty. Those last ten minutes of the four-way challenge, from Poggio to Sanremo, give us confirmation: Mathieu Van der Poel is an absolute champion and a promise: Filippo Ganna has everything to win even a Monument Classic. Like the Milan-Sanremo, in fact, which it touched yesterday. Or like the next Paris-Roubaix, which will see him among the favourites.
In yesterday’s finale there is the essence of Sanremo, a race for everyone for six and a quarter hours which becomes a matter between giants in the last ten minutes. But it is what happens in the first 290 kilometers (also counting the transfer up to the zero kilometer) that makes the shot between the Poggio and via Roma, the most loved straight in world cycling, selective.
Yesterday, immediately after the unprecedented away from Abbiategrasso (the participation of the fans was moving), the race did not have a moment’s respite. And so, thanks also to the thrust of the wind in favor of the Aurelia, the race flew at an average speed of 45.773 kilometers per hour (the second ever after the historic 45.806 of Gianni Bugno in 1990).
Tadej Pogacar, exactly as we could expect, asked his teammates (very good Willemstad, Trentin and Ulissi) to shoot to death on the Cipressa to weigh down the sprinters’ legs and hopes. So, when about a kilometer from the brow of the Poggio, Pogacar got up on the pedals for a killer progression, only Ganna, Van Aert and Van der Poel remained attached to his train.
Spectacular Sanremo: he has selected exactly the four most awaited champions.
And the four Beatles of this first Monument Classic of 2023 are a tribute to the multidisciplinarity of modern cycling, and further proof of how much Sanremo winks at champions with different characteristics. Pogacar is the number one in the great stage races (2 victories and a second place in the last 3 Tours de France), Ganna is the world number one in time trials and track and the two Vans, great Classiche chasers, are also masters of cyclo-cross (5 world titles for Van der Poel, including the last by beating Van Aert who had already won 3). There is no other race that allows such technically different riders to find themselves next to each other punching the pedals. And only a Milano-Saremo can have these four tell a story worthy of a novel in 10 minutes (stopwatch in hand, even less).
Pogacar, Ganna, Van Aert and Van der Poel went so fast that in the end the Dutchman climbed the hill with the Poggio record (5’38” to devour almost 4 kilometers of climb!). All four were worth the ultimate success. But Mathieu Van der Poel deservedly won, because he found the strength to shoot one more shot, when the three fellow adventurers were already fishing in the reserve tank. The Dutchman pocketed a handful of seconds and capitalized on them with an open grave descent, thanks to his biker skills, but then held on until the end despite Ganna, above all, Van Aert and Pogacar collaborating in the chase. Mathieu won in Sanremo, on the same day as his maternal grandfather Raymond Poulidor, the most loved and popular of the French champions who on March 18, 1961 escaped on the last slopes of the Poggio and arrived alone, like his nephew, with a few seconds on the noble Van Looy. This is also why Mathieu said: “This is the best day of my life”.
Behind the Dutchman, Ganna swept away in a sprint full of rage and power ahead of Van Aert and Pogacar. In these cases, the podium should be extended to four…
Filippo raced a sumptuous Sanremo that confirms everything we’ve always thought. He has so much talent and such a great engine that it can push the boundaries of his ambitions. Yesterday he was very disappointed, even angry because he felt he was really close to the dream. But he has plenty of time to make up for it. Van der Poel, behind the prize-giving stage, asked which Northern Classics Ganna would do, worried that Flanders was also planned… No, Filippo will only do Roubaix, but after yesterday’s finale, what was a good idea has now become a project.
The Classicissima has the power to project even champions, such as Van der Poel and Ganna, into a new dimension. It is the magic of the Milan-San Remo. It takes ten minutes.
March 19, 2023 (change March 19, 2023 | 08:57)
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