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The Moment The Race Was Won: Milan-Sanremo

John Degenkolb sprints on the Via Roma. He was the fastest in the sprint but in order to contend he rode an impressive final kilometre to get into position, going in the wind to overtake several riders after a clever ride in the final kilometres, with ideal positioning on the Poggio.

Just like last year a start in the rain. An 11 man group quickly established a lead of over 10 minutes, one way to keep warm. Just like last year Matteo Bono, Martin Tjallingi and Jan Barta were in the move too. No sooner did the move reach a double-digit advantage than Trek, Tinkoff-Saxo and Katusha started setting the pace, signalling no freedom for the fugitives. It’s easy to imagine a huddled bunch moving as one, 188 like grains of rice in the same pot but there’s variety in the peloton when it comes to wet weather clothing, either sponsorship and supply or rider preference and so the effects of hundreds of kilometres in the rain vary. What price a billowing rain jacket extracts versus a damp but slimline “Gabba” is hard to measure but there’s bound to be an effect.

Once the riders hit the coast the weather began to get better and the peloton began a slow striptease with overshoes, jackets and more being ferried back to team cars, a sign of the better conditions but also that the race was heating up too. The effort to drop back to the car is significant and it’s a curious use of resources when teams use up riders just to stash some clothing. Still for a while the clothing was the action. There’s talk of geo-location for TV broadcasts, the ability to pinpoint where every single rider is. It can’t come soon enough for Milan-Sanremo where long scenes for viewers show little more than men pedalling along the coast. Knowing who is sitting near the front and who is languishing at the back would help explain what’s happening when things might not appear to be happening. Even speed would bring some context. Michał Kwiatkowski was visible at the front thanks to his rainbow jersey, Arnaud Démare at the back because of his tricolore.

The action got obvious on the Capo Berta where the breakaway was thinned down to four riders. Behind Team Sky set the pace but a series of crashes upset the race. First some riders slid into the wall, then others right near the front of the bunch fell leaving just three Sky riders in Luke Rowe, Geraint Thomas and Ben Swift. Rowe set to work towing his team mates and they took a gap on the bunch but it was an awkward move, hard to take time on the bunch but to have sat up would have been to end the option they had at the front of the race. Still they were caught on the Cipressa where a series of attacks from BMC Racing didn’t see their riders go clear but it ruined the day for several sprinters.

As soon as the Cipressa descent was over Daniel Oss took off and had Thomas for company. The pair took up to 30 seconds, helped by BMC swarming at the front of the bunch to monitor the chase. Eventually Katusha and Trek bought the gap down to 17 seconds for the start of the Poggio. Thomas, more at ease on the climb, took off solo. Behind Katusha set a goldilocks tempo behind: not too slow to let Thomas get away; not too fast to harm Kristoff’s chances.

Philippe Gilbert attacked on the Poggio – he wears a trinket given to him from the La Guardia chapel on the climb – but was covered by others, notably Zdeněk Štybar and Peter Sagan. Look closely at the image above and you’ll see John Degenkolb perfectly placed on Fabian Cancellara’s wheel. Greg Van Avermaet tried too, first getting a gap and forcing Sagan and Michael Matthews to chase, costing energy for both. But the bunch regrouped over the top of the Poggio as Thomas was brought back… but only just, the bunch stretched out like a wheezing concertina. A crash by Gilbert down the Poggio saw him smack into a safety mattress and the fall took out Kwiatkowski and Gerald Ciolek too.

Rolling into town Peter Sagan was hovering off the front of the bunch, a minor mistake when he should have been finding a good wheel. A sprint was coming up but this is not to be confused with the finish of a flat stage in a grand tour. The distance is obvious and the group was only 30 strong. Luca Paolini led out for Alexander Kristoff who launched with 300 metres to go. Too far? Perhaps but if Kristoff was beaten, the podium was a triumph after the images of him on the Cipressa showed “The Bull of Stavanger” looking more like a carp on the penultimate climb, his mouth wide open.

John Degenkolb won with more than sprint, his positioning on the Poggio was ideal, he didn’t attract attention like Peter Sagan and waited for the right moment. His final kilometre through Sanremo was a festival, at first he was in the wind overtaking others before finally launching his nodding-dog sprint, it looks forceful like a track rider pumping out of a starting gate but the legs were turning quickly and he was clearly the fastest. Among the others Niccolò Bonifazio was sat on Kristoff’s wheel, the 21 year old finished fifth although each Lampre-Merida rider sprinted for themselves, he and Matthews have plenty of time on their side. Meanwhile Peter Sagan misses out again, arguably wasting too much energy in final ten minutes. It’s as if he wasn’t confident in his sprint but wouldn’t commit to an escape in Sanremo either.

John Degenkolb takes his fifth classic after collecting races like Gent Wevelgem and Paris-Tours and an impressive team effort, not just today but the way his ambitions and those of Marcel Kittel are managed, it’s all (seemingly) so harmonious. He had seemed off the sprint pace in Paris-Nice but come Sanremo his long power served him well, the effort that saw him place sixth in the prologue rather than his final 50 metre burst. Incidentally the whole podium came out of Paris-Nice.

John Degenkolb Sanremo

The Verdict
You can’t have the excitement at the end without the procession before, the 250km introduction is essential to soften up the race so that when the final climbs come the racing can be selective and aggressive. The finale had all the usual tension but with few openings, the Poggio wasn’t the trampolino to victory, in fact nobody was able to go clear ahead of the descent. We got sprint finish and for a moment a repeat from Kristoff looked likely especially as Katusha looked the most coherent collectively until Degenkolb surged past for the win. So long Sanremo? Not quite because the Giro starts here in under 50 days.

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • lefthandside Sunday, 22 March 2015, 6:52 pm

    I hope we get plenty more battles between the first three – they are strong, versatile and smart riders who make the most of the opportunities they get, regardless of whether it’s built on the good work of their teammates or whether it looks like more of an individual effort. A thrilling last hour of racing and a great report, thanks Inrng (I rarely comment here but I enjoyed the race so much I wanted to relive it again)

    • lefthandside Sunday, 22 March 2015, 7:16 pm

      One more thing – I think Kristoff owes Paolini a drink tonight after getting him through the final kms. Amazing dedication to the team leader

      • STS Sunday, 22 March 2015, 7:55 pm

        +1, Paolini for me was the man of the race finale. If only he had spent a little bit less on the Poggio he would have led out Kristoff 50 m longer and … . They would have deserved it as a reward for the work they did. “Dege” deserved it because he probably rode the smartest race and that’s how M-SR is often won, much too often for my taste. Personally, I can’t wait for the race to feature a “proper” route in the finale, proper for a classic.

        • jkeltgv Sunday, 22 March 2015, 8:19 pm

          Have to disagree with you about the route – which race has you talking about who can win it with 15km to go and include GC contenders, sprinters, punchers, time trialers….

          There’s no other race that’d have you wondering about Gilbert, Stybar, Kwitko, Cavendish Thomas, Pippo, Cancelara, Nibali (OK maybe not today) as well as Degenkolb, Kristoff & Matthews. Damn it you had Greipel out climbing last years tour winner! 2 years ago you had 3 very different riders contesting the finish.

          It’s perfectly balanced – the way it’s gone the last few years even without Le Manie it’s still well balanced.

          Leave well enough alone (in my opinion!). I absolutely love it (although it was better on a Saturday for some reason)

          • Andrew E Sunday, 22 March 2015, 8:28 pm

            +1

            There is no other race or course in which you would have basically every type of rider in contention. MSR is an anomaly. It should stay that way and not try to engineer a certain kind of finale.

          • STS Sunday, 22 March 2015, 10:20 pm

            But when DID actually any grand tour contender win M-SR?

            And while I agree that we did not know today’s winner until the last 20 m – an experience common with most races run on a rather flat course – what is this suspense compared to the real action of men attacking each other and displaying some real tactics instead of just “playing the waiting game” as shown in the last hour of the RVV for example?

            And the year Gerro won it was absolutely clear who of those three would stand on which step of the podium.

            But I’m happy for you that you like it, maybe it’s just me who wants to see more races like “De Ronde” through the season.

          • gabriele Sunday, 22 March 2015, 11:27 pm

            STS… Exactly 20 years ago.

            And before of that it was pretty common (or not so uncommon) to have a GT contender winning it.
            About 20 out of 50 from post-war to 1995.
            7 were Merckx’s, fine, but even taking those out, figures are still quite interesting.

            The longest previous spell without a GT contender as a winner in Sanremo (post-war) was of about 6 or 9 years, depending on how do you want to consider Van Steenbergen, he doesn’t look like the usual GT contender, for sure, but he still’s got a podium in the Giro and a top 5 in the Vuelta, too. Van Looy, despite a couple of Vuelta podia, shouldn’t be considered as such, IMHO, but he could, if we wanted – he had some top-10s in the Giro and in the Tour, too. That would reduce even more the maximum previous span without GT contenders winning La Primavera.

            What’s really impressive is that in these last 20 years, not only we didn’t have any GT contender winning Milano-Sanremo, something quite unprecedented in itself, but we also have JUST ONE OF THEM on a podium… Nibali.

            That said, as I wrote before, I’m rooting for Le Manie, totally, whereas I’m not very convinced about Pompeiana. Even if historically La Classicissima was a different race, maybe we can appreciate and defend its “new” or “new classic” style. Without Le Manie, I still see a problem there, too much sprint-oriented, not really as open as it should.

        • Maximus Monday, 23 March 2015, 7:34 am

          I also think a guy who was the strongest was G Thomas. Super strong in the race. Also think Saagan should have went all in when he rolled off the front. Never know.

          • Dave H Monday, 23 March 2015, 9:44 am

            I tend to agree that Thomas looked the strongest but he squandered that strength with the accidental Sky breakaway and then, more so, by following Oss between the Cipressa and Poggio. Thomas’ problem seems to be that he is very strong but doesn’t really have a way to win races like these. He doesn’t have much of a sprint and isn’t punchy enough on short climbs to pull away but it did look briefly like he might squeak just enough of a lead over the Poggio when Paolini was getting no help.

            Sagan’s tactics bemused me. As I think has been said before, he is too scared of losing races to really take a chance to win one. He really shouldn’t have been the chasing down GVA but should have had the nerve and confidence to let others do that while he husbanded his strength and having found himself dangling off the front maybe he should have gone all in with a really long push to the line. I couldn’t see it working and he would have been better off not finding himself off the front there but better that than drifting back out of position and unable to win the sprint.

        • J Evans Monday, 23 March 2015, 6:12 pm

          For many, having a variety of types of races makes it more interesting than them all being generic ‘proper classics’.

        • Mikel T Tuesday, 24 March 2015, 9:40 pm

          +3, Paolini indeed exceptional, never seen a rider so competent at moving through the peloton. Often seen loafing at the rear of a fast moving peloton but during an ad break, “ecco Luca” at the sharp end. To manage to lead out of Kristoff after his effort on the Poggio was remarkable.

    • Chris Monday, 23 March 2015, 12:00 am

      Take a look at the top 10 and I’d say you have a pretty elite group all in at the same time, an elite one-day race for certain, very different from a grand tour. Love it

  • Chris G Sunday, 22 March 2015, 6:58 pm

    A great race today, congratulations to John Degenkolb. I read somewhere that although he hadn’t shown much in the sprints at Paris-Nice, he had been keeping something in reserve for today and that was proved on Via Roma. He seems tailor-made for these races and I wouldn’t put it past him to win another monument before the spring is over.

    • The Inner Ring Sunday, 22 March 2015, 7:16 pm

      He certainly looks strong for the Ronde van Vlaanderen and came close in Paris-Roubaix last year too.

      • Augie March Sunday, 22 March 2015, 7:33 pm

        Given this result and the absence of Boonen I think Degenkolb can look to being one of the most marked men for the rest of the classics. A great ride today, but to me it looks like Matthews got boxed in as the sprint really fired up, had he some more space I think he might have got this, but that’s racing.

        • gabriele Sunday, 22 March 2015, 10:38 pm

          He was in a good position, the problem is that when he had to choose between Degenkolb’s wheel and the Kristoff-Bonifazio line, he opted for the latter… during just a millisecond, but you see him moving right, then left again.
          In the last 50 mts. he had full space ahead (Sagan and Cimolai allowed him to pass, and righly so), but just hadn’t got the kick. He kept cover just as long as he could desire, then went as he wished.
          That said, I think he’ll get this sooner or later; probably sooner than later. Great quality, and it looks like “his” race, his only problem is maybe the quantity of guys at an high level with that same kind of characteristics (not that they’re better than him, in this race at least, so his time wil sure come… it’s just a matter of competition) .

          • Augie March Monday, 23 March 2015, 5:04 am

            Good points.

            I’m not sure a change of route would benefit this race overall, but if the MSR organisers do add more climbing then that would probably help riders like Matthews.

    • GeorgeY Monday, 23 March 2015, 9:04 am

      Degenkolb said in the post-race interview that he had been chasing victory in Milan-Sanremo for five years, he was very excited. His burst of emotion showed when there were tears rolling down his cheeks on the podium (a few seconds after the photo that Mr Ring posted). A great sporting moment for a deserved winner!

  • Andrew E Sunday, 22 March 2015, 7:06 pm

    Its notable that none of the riders who contested the finish (the top ten) had made any significant effort before the Poggio. They just stayed out of the way and let others control things. As I read someone say on Twitter, “Why would you attack before the Poggio?” This is a race that is all about biding your time and timing your effort so that when you make it, it counts. Today it was Degenkolb who timed it exactly right.

    But I must say a big chapeau to Geraint Thomas. If only he could have had 20 seconds at the top of the Poggio it might have been interesting.

    PS Sagan 4th yet again?

    • The Inner Ring Sunday, 22 March 2015, 7:15 pm

      A pre-Poggio attack probably has to be a Plan B, ie a team uses a good rider but not their best, this way they get someone up front and force others to chase. It’s all so difficult, the Cipressa is such a fast climb that to take 10 seconds over the top means going so hard that there’s little left for the flat section to the Poggio when teams all thunder along to place their leader near the front.

      • Tovarishch Monday, 23 March 2015, 8:30 am

        According to Dario Cioni it was plan A but losing Stannard and Pucio compromised it.

    • Tovarishch Sunday, 22 March 2015, 7:22 pm

      I hope Sky are paying Thomas a king’s ransom. Any team would love to have him.

      • Andrea Sunday, 22 March 2015, 11:55 pm

        It would be great to see Thomas racing for himself and be in a real position to win races!

  • Gareth Sunday, 22 March 2015, 7:09 pm

    I think being on a team with Kittel might have been the best thing to happen to Degenkolb. He could have squandered years trying to be a pure sprinter and never quite getting the wins. Instead he has been forced to try and be a bit different and I can see him racking up a hat full of monuments on his career.

    • The Inner Ring Sunday, 22 March 2015, 7:12 pm

      It works out well, Kittel can go for some of the biggest sprints of the year so Degenkolb doesn’t have to, but if needed he’s there to pick off wins in the Giro or Vuelta, plus do the classics. According to The Cycling Podcast Etixx-QS are interested but he’s under contract until the end of 2016 too.

      • Gareth Sunday, 22 March 2015, 7:27 pm

        Not sure that would be a great move for him. Could see him being a plan b there – ie the likes of Stybar will be going up the road and he’ll be there if it all comes back together.

        But money talks….

      • Joe K. Monday, 23 March 2015, 1:53 am

        John Degenkolb should not go to Etixx-QS where he will become just another talented cog in that chain gang of a sprint train for their prima donna star sprinter du jour. John, resist the temptation of money, and stay in the spotlight of success!

        As for Sagan, he needs to learn some racing tactics: since he’s a marked man, he should have gone for the flyer with 1.8Ks, and this would have dragged out the contenders and pretenders. Instead, he kept looking back like a lap dog begging for a bone or a hand-out. He’s done this maneuver before, and it doesn’t work. Peter, just go for it, and they will follow.

        • gabriele Monday, 23 March 2015, 8:50 am

          Even more so since he didn’t do this maneuver in another “sprinters’ classic”, the 2013 Gand-Wevelgem, and it sorted out quite well, then. Went for it 4k to go, and got it. Not really the same thing, but he should remember. This year, the Tirreno prologue had been promising (then, he wasn’t playing dumb as in the last stage): he’s good at short sustained efforts.

          • Nicktarios Monday, 23 March 2015, 2:54 pm

            I agree, when I saw him roll off the front on the flat after the Poggio, I was hoping he would go full gas. It had to occur to him, there was only just over 1km to go. Who would have chased in such a reduced bunch, with most guys one team mate to spare at best. Only chance would have been Thomas pulling for Swift, but he had to be tired from his efforts previous. Sagan could have had 50 cheap metres on everyone just about. With 1k to go and excellent short effort (30sec to 8 min) power. He’s paralysed by indecision now. Not reading races well, he will rarely win a flat finish with the guys that were left in that bunch.

  • Beno Sunday, 22 March 2015, 7:16 pm

    A brilliant stealth ride from dege to catch it at the end. I felt Matthews and Sagan lacked team mates in the final run in – I spotted a giant-alpecin rider with dege and obviously katusha were present. Sagan and Matthews shouldn’t have been forcing it at the end – it was clear they wouldn’t have the kick at the end. Biggest losers: bmc – they kept launching riders to exhaust the pure sprinters but they g home with nothing to show….

    • Andrew E Sunday, 22 March 2015, 7:24 pm

      I too noticed that Sagan seemed to be alone. I thought he had joined Tinkoff so that he would have a solid team to chauffeur him to the finish line in races this year? Its getting boring watching him fail now.

      • Chris Monday, 23 March 2015, 2:28 am

        “It’s getting boring watching him fail now.”

        Oh I don’t know about that. I’m in the camp that doesn’t like Sagan much. I found his TdF celebration antics a bit much, then there was the groping saga and whatnot. I know people say that he brings personality to the sport, and I agree that’s good – it gives us heroes to cheers and villains to boo. Much like professional wrestling, I suppose.

        Personally, I think his drought of Monument wins is getting funny. The longer it goes on the funnier it will be, particularly as he’s being paid so very much by such a demanding boss.

    • The Inner Ring Sunday, 22 March 2015, 7:28 pm

      That was Tom Dumoulin who helped drop Degenkolb into place for the Poggio.

  • Anonymous Sunday, 22 March 2015, 7:26 pm

    I am already wondering how long Sagan will spend at Saxo. Too much pressure being applied perhaps meaning not such a happy camp.

  • gabriele Sunday, 22 March 2015, 7:26 pm

    I would have preferred to see Sagan try his luck once the descent was over… I feel (and he must know) that he’s got a strong finish in his legs but not quite a good positioning just before the sprint, and that’s going to cost him the victory anyway, at least without a pilot fish. Not that he would have had great chances to win with a late attack, but it would have been… interesting. (Obviously, he needed to go the first time, not the second, when he had already lost speed).
    Am I wrong or Breschel was around but raced on his own? Not very sure, can’t see him in the top ten.

    • Chris_SK Sunday, 22 March 2015, 8:27 pm

      Breschel and Kreuziger were both in the 30 man bunch that came together with 1.5km to go.

      The picture above is exactly the problem. Fabian in that position would be head down and good luck getting on his backwheel. But Sagan was cautious. He was looking around for who is with him and if he had team mates. Well he did. But they also didn’t help! I’d expect at least Breschel to lead him out.

      You can see in the final sprint, he nearly found the right wheel of Degenkolb (he was marking him on Cipressa beginning) – but for Bonifazio to be in that prime position but sprint weakly. Sagan coming around the Lampre man seemed to have very similar flatout speed to Degenkolb. But once again, starting so far back (6th, 7th maybe even 8th wheel) cost Sagan a placing if not the win.

      Most disappointing was the performance of the team. Look at that pic… Paolini is miles behind at that stage… and with less than 2km to go, yet in the space of 500m the group reforms and Katusha leap to the front to lead out Kristoff. THAT is why Sagan was looking around. For Tinkoff team mates to come through and none obliged.

      • gabriele Sunday, 22 March 2015, 9:46 pm

        Totally agree with the sprint description, it’s more or less what I was thinking. Same goes for what you say about the team. Breschel’s attitude should be examined, I now see he came in 12th, which means he probably wasn’t too back nor very exhausted. We had six couples in the top 12, one of them was Sagan-Breschel. The Lampres played each one his cards, separately, but maybe that made sense for them (don’t know: both are young, probably neither had a real chance to get a win even if the teammate worked for him, for the team double points-scoring may be paramount)… I doubt the same can be said of Tinkoff riders.
        That said, I consider he *had* to go, then.
        Let’s look at the picture above: nor Thomas nor GVA have a chasing face on, while I don’t think that Valverde nor Matthews would go “all in” chasing Sagan… having other riders on their wheels. Quite hard to cooperate when only first guns are around. Cancellara, the only true possible stopper, doesn’t appear to be there. Well, unfortunately I’m no Sagan nor I’ll ever be in the last 1500m of the Classicissima, so what I think doesn’t matter.
        It would just have been so good to watch 🙂
        Whereas, waiting for Breschel just not to receive the expected support…

        • Anonymous Monday, 23 March 2015, 11:28 pm

          Yes, a lot of questions about Breschel… I agree Thomas and GVA had just taken turns and swung off, so it would be Matthews or Valverde freshest to try to close the Sagan gap. Around 10 seconds after this picture, Paolini had already charged through with Kristoff on his wheel.

          Maybe Breschel had nothing left? But he must have had something to sprint for 12th! There’s no miscommunication or whatever excuse in my view here, because Breschel would be swept up by Paolini/Kristoff mini-group and when passing through Sagan could’ve got him back up closer to the front to at least compete with Degenkolb from a level starting position.

          If it was team car instructions – Riis has got it in the neck now anyway 🙂
          But its not the first time Sagan has been looking around caught in two minds to go or to wait for the sprint. But someone should tell him, if the latter – at least find a descent wheel to sit on! Not Cimolai or Bonifazio 😀

    • Larry T. Sunday, 22 March 2015, 9:39 pm

      MegalOlevomaniac is probably madder than hell, but I don’t know if it’s all Sagan’s fault as I too wondered WTF was Breschel doing? If that kind of help was all he was going to get Sagan should have tried a Spartacus-type flyer when he had a gap at the bottom of the Poggio. Meanwhile the two Lampre guys seemed to have brain fade when it came time to work together as well. I can imagine what Kristoff thought when poor Paolini croaked about 50 metres too soon: “Where the hell is the rest of Katusha?” I was touched as the winner shed a tear or two on the podium – showed what sport is all about. Bring on the rest of the real racing season!!

      • Shawn Sunday, 22 March 2015, 11:34 pm

        I think there was a lack of teamwork but you cannot put that all on that Breschel . Sagan cannot make a move at the top of the Poggio dropping his teammates, in effect, and then expect them to be there at the bottom. There needs to be a plan where they are all on the same page and Sagan wasn’t even on the same page with himself–as he seemed undecided as to the best strategy.

        • gabriele Monday, 23 March 2015, 8:36 am

          All the same, Breschel was… on Sagan’s wheel in the finale, just before the sprint was launched, then he let it go and tried to sprint on his own (I was able to watch again the footage). Which is quite weird. It makes sense to protect your leader’s wheel if he’s in one of the best positions, but if he’s entering the last km so far back, you should try to pull him ahead. More or less what Scarponi did for the Lampre duo, for friendship’s sake or national pride, I suppose.

          CN reports: Matti Breschel was one of two Tinkoff-Saxo riders, along with Roman Kreuziger, who made it over the Poggio in the front group. When asked if anything had gone wrong for the team he offered Cyclingnews a pretty simple assessment of the day, “Nothing really, we just didn’t win”… “It will come,” Breschel said with a smile. “We will keep trying.”

          • Anonymous Monday, 23 March 2015, 1:10 pm

            “More or less what Scarponi did for the Lampre duo, for friendship’s sake or national pride, I suppose.”

            Or as insurance for April 3 😉

          • Mr. Pither Monday, 23 March 2015, 3:27 pm

            Saxo lost Juul-Jensen, who crashed, and Bodnar (mechanical before Cipressa).

  • marche Sunday, 22 March 2015, 7:56 pm

    Ok, the race was thrilling. And I do see some arguments for a long course such as Milan Sanremo. But all the suspens, all the attacks just to lose the race… It’s Sanremo’s lottery I guess, but the men of the race are not rewarded. Where was Degenkolb’s crew? Is it their black jersey? Nobody notice them, not even the riders…

    • Anonymous Monday, 23 March 2015, 11:32 pm

      that’s the art of the Sanremo win… it’s not the strongest rider who wins but the most clever rider who times his move the best

  • Biffer Sunday, 22 March 2015, 8:18 pm

    What’s going on with Nibali? Even Cav out climbed him

    • Andrew E Sunday, 22 March 2015, 8:30 pm

      My guess is either its the biggest bluff of all time or he’s on a 2012 type year. Being an Astana rider I’m not sure I should say anymore…

      • gabriele Sunday, 22 March 2015, 9:19 pm

        2012?

    • hoh Sunday, 22 March 2015, 8:34 pm

      Lack of motivation?

    • The Inner Ring Sunday, 22 March 2015, 8:35 pm

      He’s overweight by a couple of kilos and not in the best condition as we saw in Tirreno-Adriatico. He wasn’t even keen on riding this was until a change of heart during the week.

      • Anonymous Monday, 23 March 2015, 2:57 am

        With Boonen out, there is no way Etixx can dominate the race. My money is on Degenkolb in Paris-Roubaix

    • gabriele Sunday, 22 March 2015, 9:28 pm

      His state of form isn’t really so different to last year.
      The problem is that if he’s going trough the same type of slow build-up… well, that supposed quite a lot of tension approaching the Tour (see the kind of emotive impact it had for him winning the Nationals) and it will be way more complicated this time around: even more pressure on… and even more troubles.
      Last time it was something personal, this time it’s a whole lot of open fronts, including kind of absurd inferences about him and the Astana case.

  • Mats Sunday, 22 March 2015, 8:39 pm

    Daniel Oss did a great job today. What a great performance again. Luca Paolini also earned his salary in a brilliant way today leading the whole peloton up the Poggio. Twitter tells me Oleg T. being furious again. Maybe he wants Bjarne to jump on a bike and start racing again 😉

    • Mick Tarrant Sunday, 22 March 2015, 10:07 pm

      Paolini indeed exceptional, never seen a rider so competent at moving through the peloton. Often seen loafing at the rear of a fast moving peloton but during an ad break, “ecco Luca” at the sharp end. To manage to lead out of Kristoff after his effort on the Poggio was remarkable.

      Speaking of good efforts, Arredondo but in a good shift for Trek and Luke Rowe continues to gain in strength and know how with Sky but for me, Geraint Thomas deserves the plaudits for another domestic de luxe master class. However, as far back as 2011 he was hanging back over the top of the Kapelmur in Flanders waiting on Flecha instead of being permitted to push on to maybe contest the finale himself. Re-occurring picture for some time now, think it was he who was better placed than Wiggo in Roubaix last year but had to spend energy to get him to the front group.

      This season it was work for Richie Porte in Paris Nice which did in fact work out fine but in Roubaix, no doubt he will be sacrificed at the altar of Sir Brad. What does the guy have to do to get protected status? For sure he does on occasions and Tour of the Algarve is a decent win but do feel he’s capable of winning or at least getting on the podium in some big races. Ian Stannard probably a similar case study.

  • cthulhu Sunday, 22 March 2015, 9:43 pm

    Well, I’ve now got the winner for the last three editions of Milan-Sanremo right, unfortunately I didn’t bet again, only won the club intern debate 😉
    And so far it has been the only classic I’ve got right in the last years

    I doubt that Katusha and Kristoff did anything wrong. They rode a great race, unfortunately for him it was like 10 m too long. Also his sprint was well timed, but this year Degenkolb made it to the final and was a tad bit fresher today. He is like Kristoff one of the folks that shine after 200+ km of racing, Really looking forward to Flanders and Roubaix, where those two clash with the likes of Stybar, Terpstra, Vanmarcke et al.

    And such a shame that Ciolek got taken out by Stybar or Kwiatowski in that crash, he looked quite good up to that point. But qains points for showing the most emotions besides Degenkolb in the race 😉

  • Kjetil Sunday, 22 March 2015, 10:20 pm

    It was just beautiful. It always is.
    Please please please don’t put in the Pompeiana. Maybe Le Manie again, it could make things (even) more hectic before the capi, but not the Pompeiana. There’s a race in Belguim they call La Doyenne already.

  • Lee Woodhead Sunday, 22 March 2015, 10:50 pm

    Really enjoyed it today, very exciting finish; though Thomas might stay away but pelaton too strong. Leave the route alone IMHO as pretty much perfect.

  • Shawn Sunday, 22 March 2015, 11:47 pm

    I thought that given the cards they had to play, BMC did quite well and really made the race much more exciting. I’ve rarely seen them so coordinated and coherent. That fact that they come out empty handed doesn’t make them the ‘big losers’ of the day.

    Sky, on the other hand, seem to have found a productive use for their falling. Let the fourth guy go down to block the peloton and spring the front three to break away 😉

  • Chris Monday, 23 March 2015, 12:08 am

    Another dropped chain for cavendish.
    I wonder if the fsa sponsorship has done it’s dash

  • Othersteve Monday, 23 March 2015, 12:45 am

    Already, said by many great race.
    Wonderful sunday morning for us in the new world west coast, more to come quickly…

    Sagan was out to dry, bad tactics by TS.

  • Tomski Monday, 23 March 2015, 1:18 am

    +1 Chris about Cavendish’s chain. Surely time to be thinking about rebadging a different chainset. Must be frustrating with his contract up for renewal…

    • Larry T. Monday, 23 March 2015, 7:22 am

      The Manx Missile’s mechanical issues put a big dent in the “The pros use it so it must be the best stuff for YOU to buy” argument. He screamed about failures with the previous component sponsor’s stuff, this time round he seems to be more reserved, but at the same time more public with his complaints. If these people can’t even make decent chainrings, what’s going to happen when they supply an entire groupset? Meanwhile, why is Stinkoff not having issues? Same bike, same equipment suppliers. Did they try and already reject these chainrings?

    • The Inner Ring Monday, 23 March 2015, 8:32 am

      It could be the set-up by the mechanics too.We’ll never know but Cavendish looked in trouble on the Cipressa already so any sprint in Sanremo looked compromised.

      • Larry T. Monday, 23 March 2015, 12:46 pm

        Really? As a mechanic I would have been all over this issue after the first incident so it’s hard for me to believe the guys at Etixx don’t know what they’re doing while the Stinkoff guys do? Heck, put some FSA stickers on chainrings that have been proven to work and use those! Not like it’s never been done before.

  • Asero Monday, 23 March 2015, 1:57 am

    What’s up with BMC? Can’t they find a talent that will get them the gold besides Gilbert in the hilly classics.

    • Dr Manhattan Monday, 23 March 2015, 12:26 pm

      Taylor Phinney won MSR for me on Pro Cycling Manager! Too bad he’s injured in the analogue world…

      • Alex222 Monday, 23 March 2015, 12:59 pm

        Did he attack on the Pogio?

  • Asero Monday, 23 March 2015, 1:58 am

    Lobato struggled in the colds. Is it lack of preparation of the weather condition was extreme compared to last year.

    There is no way he could help Valverde in the Ardennes Classics. It will be BMC, Katusha show come Ardennes but usual suspects will win

  • Cd Monday, 23 March 2015, 2:55 am

    Swift was a real disappointment. Thomas attacks and still pulls in the last Kms for Swift not to be in position. Also, what was the Movistar plan there at the end. Also why was Scarponi pulling? Was that an attack. He was only Astana there. And Cannodale? They also had two guys who don’t sprint. Maybe with all of the above they were just happy to be there and know they have nothing left for an attack?

    • Asero Monday, 23 March 2015, 2:59 am

      They do not have a sprinter that can launch sustained 700 watts for 100 meters

      • Tovarishch Monday, 23 March 2015, 8:43 am

        He also got himself boxed in – so he probably would have needed 800 watts!

        • Anonymous Monday, 23 March 2015, 9:42 am

          I was gutted for Swift, saw him switch lines from the overhead camera and by that time it was game up. I really hoped he would do something here this year. As for Cav’s mechanical, well lets hope he’s on Campagnolo next year. He’s tried the rest, now its time for the best (smiley face).

  • Cragomatic Monday, 23 March 2015, 10:46 am

    Childish maybe, but I’ve really taken to re-reading Inrng’s race reports through the Gizoogle filter:

    “Rollin tha fuck into hood Peta Sagan was hoverin off tha front of tha bunch, a minor fuck up when da perved-out muthafucka should done been findin a phat wheel fo’ realz.”

    I’d add my voice to the plaudits for Geraint Thomas. I reckon he would probably have a stronger chance of a win at P-R than Wiggins on current form. His performance last year was impressive – it was only him and Boonen putting the work in from the breakaway, and he still came in with the lead group after Terpstra had made a move that Thomas himself could have probably produced had he not been smashing it for the previous 40km. I think he just needs to trust his own ability a little more, and there are signs this year that he is starting to do exactly that.

    I do feel he’s capable of ballin or at least gettin on tha podium up in some big-ass races.

    • Divad Tuesday, 24 March 2015, 12:04 am

      Best comment ever.

      Thanks for introducing me to that superb app.

      And thanks inrng for such fantastic coverage as always!

  • Ian Monday, 23 March 2015, 10:57 am

    Much as Degenkolb will rightly be remembered huge credit should be given to Thomas and Paulini for their rides. As a Welshman I’d love to see Thomas’ style of animating races rewarded with a big win one day. I must thank Inrng and the knowledgeable people below the line for my increased enjoyment of watching this race, having read the preview I watched the race in a different way, looking at positioning, which teams were where and doing what etc in a way that perhaps I haven’t before and while I know that cycling has been described as chess on wheels for me it was like a good novella – conflicting narratives and characters unfolding across the day to reach a hectic unknown outcome. No matter which way you thought the plot was going you could never quite be certain.

  • Dr Manhattan Monday, 23 March 2015, 12:39 pm

    Newsflash: Mauro Vegni is quoted on cyclingnews as categorically declaring neither Le Manie nor Pompeiana will be included for the foreseeable future!?! Go figure.

    • The Inner Ring Monday, 23 March 2015, 12:46 pm

      Seems so and the race is all the better for it. The article is here: http://www.cyclingnews.com/news/milan-san-remo-to-remain-a-race-for-the-sprinters-says-vegni

      One option would be to experiment with Le Manie, using it from time to time but without it on other times.

      • Anonymous Monday, 23 March 2015, 4:01 pm

        Pompeiana out, Le Manie in, would be my choice. This would still make MSR a race for sprinters, while providing some mid-race excitement of [insert name of sprinter struggling on climb here] trying to chase back on.

      • Irungo txuletak Monday, 23 March 2015, 7:47 pm

        Yes. Le Manie in, as it opens more the race for the final part, but definitely la Pompeiana out: this would change completely the race. A classic should not change in nature such a way, these races are all about tradition. I was already disapointed when they dropped the kapelmuur out of the Ronde, let alone the radical change of la Pompeiana in MSR.

  • Anonymous Monday, 23 March 2015, 1:02 pm

    So, let me get this straight.
    Everyone agrees that attacking before the Poggio is insane and a waste of time.
    The race is 300kms long.
    The Poggio comes after 290+kms.
    The Poggio is a pimple.
    And you all love this race, and it’s the bestest, and that’s because it’s just so unpredictable – anyone can win it.
    OK.

    • STS Monday, 23 March 2015, 5:28 pm

      🙂 , you have nailed it. It’s like watching a World Cup final in soccer between Italy and say Argentinia where no team wants to lose the match and relies on its qualities for the final penalty shoot-out. Some find this ultimately entertaining while others can’t help themselves facing this boredom, do something else and only come back to watch the penalty shoot-out, Poggio respectively.
      That’s why I’m all in for a revised course although I know, of course, that it won’t happen because the majority of people always value tradition over (always disputable) progress.

      • J Evans Monday, 23 March 2015, 7:14 pm

        Many times the race has been one in many different ways – e.g. Cancellara, 2008.

        A difficult parcours does not always make for a better race. Nor a more attacking race.

        Far better to have an interesting variety of parcours among the Monuments: add hils to M-SR and how is it different from Lombardia?

        ‘Mauro Vegni, the race director of Milan-San Remo, has confirmed to Cyclingnews that the race route for the Italian Classic will remain the same for the foreseeable future, with the no further climbs added or changes made to the route to make a more selective race.’

    • Anonymous Monday, 23 March 2015, 9:32 pm

      You didn’t have to watch it.

  • Mancunian Candidate Monday, 23 March 2015, 1:51 pm

    Did anyone see what was happening with Kristoff climbing the Cipressa (I think)? He looked pretty much out the back and done for.

    • KB Monday, 23 March 2015, 3:13 pm

      I don’t think the TV cameras showed anything, but there were a number of small crashes and incidents and the Sporza crew assumed he had been caught a bit behind and had to chase back. They certainly thought his chances were already gone at that point.

      “There’s talk of geo-location for TV broadcasts, the ability to pinpoint where every single rider is. It can’t come soon enough”

      ^ This! Cancellara was basically never on TV – the Sporza crew took that as a good sign, staying safely tucked in the belly of the peloton, conserving maximum energy. Sending Arredondo to the front to close down moves was another sign, but surely it would be actually useful to know where he was.

      More importantly – and rarely for Sporza – they completely missed Gilbert’s crash as it happened live: a rider in red was clearly visible smashing into the padded lamppost and there was no ‘and a crash!’ call from Michel Wuyts. At that point from the helicopter shot, only a few riders were individually recognizable at the front. Had there been some real-time rider info, they surely would have paid more attention to that development affecting a big-name Belgian. Likewise, it took a while to confirm that Kris Boeckmans was caught up in the aftermath of the Sky-triggered dominoes descending Capo Berta.

    • Eriksen Monday, 23 March 2015, 8:02 pm

      Seemed planned to me, even though he was probably hurting a bit. Soon after he was at the front in Poggio.. On Norwegian TV they were asking if he was doing “a Northug”.

      • Eskerrik Asko Monday, 23 March 2015, 10:43 pm

        Doing “a Northug”:
        possessing a formidable and 9 times out 10 unbeatable sprint finish, spending 49 km of a 50 km mass start XC ski race somewhere at the back of the “peloton” looking like you are having a bad day and unable to follow the guys pushing up the pace in the climbs – but in reality all the time reading the race and the terrain and keeping your powder dry for the finish and winning despite the fact that all your competitors know how you had planned to win the race.

  • frank Tuesday, 24 March 2015, 8:44 pm

    Well my prediction of quick step monument clean sweep fell at the first hurdle (literally for styby and kwiat)…. Still there is dwaar doors, e3, Ghent and de ronde coming up.
    Niki for tomorrow, or can if it comes down to a bunch sprint.

  • Anonymous Wednesday, 1 April 2015, 9:51 am

    I would never expect a tour contender to actually win MSR as it is not their aim to be in absolut top form that early in the season. Times are gone when one rider could win major races throughout the season. One has to concentrate on certain peaks. Even Armstrong never won Amstel Gold.
    On the other hand: Who would have expected Nibali to smash the competition in last years Paris-Roubaix stage at the TDF?
    The real PR suits even less rider types than MSR, so does RVV. Nevertheless, these are all monument races with exiting last 30-50k almost every year.
    Not like a flat grand tour stage, where very often only the last 2k might be of interest. We have also seen very exiting flat stages though: Think of Tony Martin at the Vuelta.
    It’s the riders that make a race hard and exiting. PR 2012 was quite boring with Boonen being so dominant after the absence of Cancellara. Nevertheless, it was an impressive performance.
    BTW, have you ever tried to ride a finale after 300k regardless the profile of the course? 😉 Nowadays, the stages of the grand tours are ridden the same way as MSR. Keep as much energy left as possible to go as hard as possible on the last kilometers of the final ascent. Epic stages wins with a 50k solo effort are rare.