The Moment Milan-Sanremo Was Won

All eyes were on one Slovenian, Tadej Pogačar and he launched a flurry of attacks on the Poggio. It didn’t work for him but had the effect of shredding an already reduced lead group. Over the top of the climb Michael Matthews was leading the pursuit and having done his turn Matej Mohorič overtook him on his watch to catching the four riders in front and then he went clear. This was the moment the race was won.

A start in the Vigorelli velodrome and a roll out through the suburbs of Milan to the official start point. As soon as the flag dropped some riders surged and they were away for the day. For all the talk of longer range attacks the early break contained nobody sent forward as relay riders to help their leaders, just a mix of wildcard invitees obliged to go clear, two Astana riders wanting to make a name for themselves, plus Filippo Conca of Lotto-Soudal, orphaned after Caleb Ewan fell ill.

Jumbo-Visma took up the chase and you could have spotted Jos van Emden on the front of the bunch, gone for a five hour ride, and found him still there on your return (he’d finish as well). They never got much lead, six minutes at most but they kept much of this late in to the race. Kudos to Alessandro Tonelli and Samuele Rivi who managed to stay away until the Poggio.

Behind the three climbs of the capi saw stress levels rise in the peloton and the first riders were dropped, among them Tom Pidcock. Peter Sagan had a mechanical and got help from his team mate Maciej Bodnar but not the whole squad. Unusual but they were saving riders to help Anthony Turgis.

The Cipressa came and went in under 10 minutes. The UAE team set a fierce pace and once again nobody even dared to launch an attack. Davide Formolo was making all kinds of faces as he toiled on the front. Many riders were being ejected by the pace and by the time they got to the balcony section of road in Costarainera there were no more than 30 riders. Formolo kept pulling and this helped keep the group clear, anyone dropped would struggle to get back.

The Poggio resembled Noah’s Ark as many teams went in two by two: Wout van Aert had Christophe Laporte, Arnaud Démare had Quentin Pacher, Girmay had Rota, Garcia Cortina had Aranburu, Nizzolo had Neilands, Mohorič had Tratnik. The group was 26-strong, and half had help.

Pogačar attacked early. There’s usually one place to go and it’s high up on the climb: round the last bend, the road flattens out by the old fish restaurant and then kicks up for the steepest part of the climb. It’s where Alaphilippe always likes to go and many others have done too. Only Pogačar was attacking much lower, amid the hothouses and launched the first of several moves. Each time he had a queue of riders on his wheel. In a way it made sense to attack early, to benefit from surprise but it also meant he was launching on a 2-3% slope and anyone matching his jump got on his wheel and into his draft, which counts when you’re doing well over 40km/h uphill. It’s so fast Benoît Cosnefroy crashed on a bend, stalling the Michał Kwiatkowski. Primož Roglič had a go but he too found others on his wheel instantly. Pogačar tried again and the same result.

Søren Kragh Andersen opted for a different style, he hit them over the top of the climb in the traditional spot and kept going. This looked more serious, he began to tow away van der Poel, van Aert and Pogačar. A selection had been made, but only just as they passed the Poggio’s landmark phone box with a three second lead. Tiny but it can be plenty in a race that’s often so delicate. Behind Michael Matthews lead the chase and after a long pull looked for someone to come round and help. Matej Mohorič came through but this was no shared endeavour, he was barging clear.

First Mohorič got across to the four leaders and then went through them like an UberEats delivery rider through static traffic. He got to the front, used a bend to take a few metres, did it again, and then again and he was away. It sounds easy, but you don’t ride away for free here. Eddy Merckx exploited the descent to win Milan-Sanremo, using his brute force to sprint out of every bend. Mohorič was more like a skier, carving each turn marginally faster than the others. He was using every inch of road possible and almost lost control twice, first on the left gutter, then almost wiping out on the last hairpin with an emergency save. He was also using a telescopic “dropper” seatpost which alloeds him to sit lower on the descent, a touch more aero and with a lower centre of gravity. It’s common in MTB racing and rare in road racing but not new given it’s been a feature of Mavic and Shimano neutral service bikes for years as they allow on-the-go height adjustment, plus Vincenzo Nibali and others have used them, so presumably it’s UCI-approved.

In the streets of Sanremo and the none of the chasers had a team mate left, it was on them to bring back Mohorič. So Pedersen did a turn, so did van der Poel and so did van Aert. There were long pulls but nobody wanted to be the guy who closed the gap for the others. In the final kilometre Turgis surged through and got a gap.

On the final S-bend and Mohorič briefly dropped his chain dropped and for a second it looked like it was all over, but he saved it and had time to sit up and celebrate.

The Verdict
A vintage edition, the gradual build up and then the rampage at the end. As ever it’s all so fast and unpredictable, the final 25 minutes feel like you’re clinging on to the mane of galloping horse rather sat on your sofa.

Once again it’s a triumph for the craftiest rider rather than the strongest, Sanremo’s intrigue is all about seizing tiny moments rather than one big knockout moment and that’s part of its charm. This time it was a win made in Slovenia as Pogačar’s multiple attacks on the Poggio slimmed the lead group and left the remainers all gasping for air just when Mohorič made his move. Mohorič using the descent to go clear ought to be as predictable as Pogačar attacking on a climb, but in each case good luck to those following.

Turgis takes second place and we’ll likely see more of him in the cobbled classics. Mathieu van der Poel took third and we’ll see more from him too, especially now his back can cope with six and half hours of racing. The runners-up will all wonder what they could have done to win here but Mohorič rode the perfect race.

102 thoughts on “The Moment Milan-Sanremo Was Won”

  1. Pog deliberately stopped chasing his fellow Slovenian after a few 100 metres and pulled over. Respect to him. Mohoric to buy Pog a few grappas or similar.

    • That was an act of self-preservation as Pog said after the race that he knows better than to follow Mohoric on a descent. I think he was hoping one of the diesels would bring Mohoric back on the Via Roma.

  2. I think Mohorič’s descent looked more impressive than it perhaps was and the dropper post was of no benefit apart from some added money to his bank account.

    Judging by Strava he set his fastest time on the descent 2 years ago (without dropper post…?), and at least 4 others (Caruso, Coquard, Neilands, Kwiatkowski) were seemingly faster on the descent today, with Kwiatkowski 4.5kph+ faster…

    Obviously Mohorič was the best descender out of the front group and won…which is what matters.

    • Part of the question is precisely that when you’ve pushed to red light and often beyond in the climbing part, it’s hard to make the sort of perfect clean descent which hence grants a great time. In fact, we could see at least a couple of very apparent mistakes which surely hindered Mohoric’s performance in terms of pure speed – the sheer consequence of pushing the limits without being in full control.
      At the same time, as you said, his descent allowed him to open and keep a gap against his closest competition, which is what matters the most, and he was good enough (quite a lot) to correct the mistakes without losing ground… or hitting it hard.
      It’s also a descent where you sometimes have got to push hard, which often makes a single athlete with no slipstream (well, that moto…) slower than a group, if they don’t mess up with each other (and at the end of the day the latter can be said about the moto, too 😉 ).

    • I think the dropper post was a substitute for the banned top-tube seating that he used before on descends, so it might have given him more confidence and a bit more control.

    • I’ve got to agree with your last line more than anything, thats what bike racing is. Being the best sprinter, of thoes who actually make it over the climb. Its rare that someone is out and out better on one aspect so much that they are able to win solo.

  3. I am wondering if Mohoric was helped or hindered by the camera motorcycle. In the incident where his rear wheel seemed to slide out, could it be he braked because the moto was too close?

    • There were some saying the motos helped by being too close. Whether they helped or hindered IMHO they were too close. There’s been some change with the TV crews as it seems RCS and RAI are still arguing over 2022? Dunno who was running the show on this one, but the guy on that moto needs some advice for next time to stay more out of the way.

      • Exactly. A random variable in racing at the top level which is long overdue for removal. Sadly as is often the case it’ll probably take a tragedy rather than “just” an influenced race result.

        • I’d add that I don’t think this problem is confined to one moto rider in one section of one race ie. the descent of the Poggio. There’s “always” some moto rider/s 10m ahead of a 50kph breakaway or chase, 5m ahead on a 20kph climb, or baulking the racers on descents. It’s a systemic problem long overdue for resolution. Personally I can live without close head-on footage for the sake of a cleaner result.

    • Honestly, I get it, moto’s always give a tow. But, being pragmatic, I don’t see the alternative. They are covering the race and also need to survive downhill on the Pogio. If the cyclist is at the limit, how can the moto go even faster?

      • “I don’t see the alternative.” Ah, but the alternative is going by the regulations:
        Cameramen’s motorcycles
        2.2.070 5 motor-cycle mounted cameras and 2 motor-cycle mounted sound recorder shall be permitted. These motor-cycles shall manoeuvre in such a way as neither to help nor hinder the progress of the riders. (text modified on 1.01.98; 1.01.16).
        2.2.071 Motor-cyclists shall make way for vehicles that have to attend the bunch or wish to overtake the riders.
        2.2.072 Cameramen shall film in profile or 3/4 rear view. They may not film as they overtake the bunch unless the road is wide enough. In the mountains and on climbs, filming shall be carried out from behind.
        2.2.073 Motor-cycles may not manoeuvre in the proximity of riders when their passengers are not filming or recording. (text modified on 1.01.05).
        2.2.074 Filming from a motor-cycle shall be forbidden in the last 500 metres.
        Specifically art. 2.2.072 should be more vigorously applied; “3/4 or rear view” does not equal full frontal. If these regulations were applied, that moto would not have been in front of Moho.
        Additionally, one could apply art. 2.2.063:
        No motor-cycle may remain between the head of the field and the leading commissaires’ car.
        But unfortunately this article is written in the regulations as adhering to “Photographer’s Motorcycles” and as the regulations have a specific sections for “Cameramen’s Motorcycles” one could argue that 2.2.063 doesn’t apply tothe latter. -Unfortunately.
        All in all, rest assured that these moto-pilots know very well were to place themselves, only they continue to push the envelope to the detriment of the sporting aspect of the race.

    • I think a bit of both. He was taking the turns faster than the motor, it looked like he had to brake or delay acceleration at some point, but he also had some drafting advantage.
      I think the moto should keep more distance on the straight part to avoid this. It must be hard to stay ahead on a moto laden with cameraman and all. Maybe they can ask Valentino Rossi to drive the moto next year?

      • They don’t just ask anyone to drive the moto camera bikes, most of ’em have lots of experience but my guess is they take directions from….well….a director. In the excitement I think some of ’em might forget the camera has a lens that adjusts so they don’t have to be too close. I’m often screaming at the TV, telling the motos to get outta the f__king way whether it’s because they seem to be holding someone up or giving them a tow. Either way, it’s unfair 🙁

        • I do not know if all the corners allow you to film well with a telelens, maybe this is part of the reason they stay closer? A low flying drone might be the answer.

          • I’m no expert on TV cameras but the first rule is (and should be) DO NOT interfere with the race. IMHO no image is worth having the results affected whether it’s getting in the rider’s way on descents so he can’t get away or towing ’em on the flats so he can. Use the camera lens to get the best image possible from a distance that doesn’t interfere and let the director choose your images or maybe an overhead ‘copter shot.
            Very simple, but I think it’s too easily forgotten when things get dicey..the UCI needs to make an example of someone sooner rather than later. Kick a few moto drivers out for getting in the way so the rest can tell the TV director to pound sand if/when they get screamed-at for not being close enough to get the image the director wants.

        • We do actually shout quite often despite also having a mandatory meeting with these guys in the morning explaining it over and over again -remember, as you know, these guys are quite experienced. But it rarely helps during the heat of the race.
          It should be noted, though, that at least 1 TVmoto was “Warned” during the race. Page 10 in this link:
          We don’t know much more…

    • There appeared to be a line of newer pavement, right between the area where his rear wheel lost traction, and then where it re-gripped immediately at that line. Which asphalt sector was newer or older I’ve no idea, but there was definitely a visual borderline.

      Also,had his post been low at that instance, he may well have saved a high-side because of it.

    • And that’s the glory of MSR no? Not selective enough to be anything but wide open, everybody fixated on marking the superheavies, cliffhanger to the end.

      I wonder if that dropper post could be useful anywhere else. It’s a fair bit of extra weight for the hills, and it’s not much use in the flat cobbled classics. Clever of Mohoric to think of it here.

  4. Mohoric Was quite clear in his post race interview that the dropper was decisive and part of a premeditated plan to usurp the super tuck ban. Good on him.

  5. Glad to see Mohoric take the win – he came to the pro ranks with a lot of expectation following his under 23 worlds win in 2013 but its been slim pickings since (apart from a couple TDF stage wins last year)

    • Apart from three two Tour stage wins in 2021 he has a Vuelta stage in 2017 and a Giro stage in 2018 – which puts him in a select company.
      But of course not as select as the category of riders who have a stageictory in all three GTs and a monument win 🙂

      • Yes, while we’re used to seeing some riders turn pro early now, he had “only” one year out of the juniors as an U23 (where he won the U23 road race) before turning pro. I’d expect more wins from him this year too.

        • The general stats, if what I remember isn’t too far from the data, is still riders hitting their peak results from 27 on. Several factors may be shifting those figures down, still it feels strange that we should now be surprised if a rider enters his prime when he’s expected to.

          • This is probably a little late for this comment to be noticed, but I saw a graph on PCS that plotted PCS points by age, and separated the cohorts by birthdate (71-75, 76-80, 81-85, 86-90). Several notable things were readily apparent. First, the ‘tail’ of the bell curve gets progressively steeper/shorter as you move towards the present. Second, the peak points year shifts from 27-28 to 26 years old, and the overall bell curve is shifted leftwards, so the upslope (points scored at younger ages is much steeper. Overall riders appear to be hitting their peaks 1-2 years earlier, and fading faster.

            Perhaps this unduly skewed by the ‘class of 90’ (i.e., their huge and early successes, followed by their ‘curse’), but the pattern is present in the other three age cohorts. And the pattern appears like it will only be more dramatic when riders like Evenepoel, Pogacar, etc. are old enough to see their peaks.

          • @KevinK
            Spotted! Very interesting. One among the many gems or Easter eggs which can be found within the PCS forest.
            I wonder if the graph are dynamic or they were plotted some given year and then stayed the same. What you observe about the discrepancies between text and graph might hint at the former, for the above graph at least, whereas the lower graphs might suggest that it’s a photo of a single moment in time, probably 2019 (no points at all scored at 35 for the pink line because no rider got there yet) or 2020 (it depends on what they mean with 0%).
            If the latter is true, a mild correction of the trends can be expected in time, for example the last four plotted dots in the blue line, and of course, some major change in the pink line.
            That said, I must said that I’m not surprised at all. It’s along the lines of what I’ve been feeling from an intuitive POV (and I hinted at it above, in fact, besides writing on the subject several times in the past on this blog).

            We could expand a lot on the subject, let’s see if inrng finds it interesting enough to write a specific blog entry… for us to comment.

            To start with, however, let me highlight that points and “peak” or “success” are two different things (although the former is good enough to be used as a proxy, and although trends can be compared perfectly): it’s quite typical in cycling that as a rider grows stronger and more recognized it just becomes harder, way harder to win (I think there’s no need to explain that here), which is why you might be at your actual peak of athletic strength, technical expertise and so on, but still win less just because it’s a very dynamic, highly strategic and complex environment. Plus, as you grow stronger as a rider, you often tend to focus on less objectives – bigger ones, indeed – which might not be as rewarding from a points POV. However, let me stress again that this very same effect is always acting, which is why trends can be compared. Still, the interaction of all factors might be not that obvious.
            I’ll stop it here, yet much more could be said, no doubt.

          • Glad you spotted it! I had the exact same thoughts about the discrepancies in the graphs – I wish PCS would make clear when the graphs were generated. I know they haven’t updated since I found this ‘Easter egg’ on the site at the end of last year.

            I also agree about things getting more difficult for top riders as they reveal themselves through winning. For example, as a 23 year old Sagan won a ton of races and was the winningest rider in the peloton. He was already known as a phenom by then, but perhaps not taken as seriously, and so fewer top riders specifically marked him. Plus he didn’t spend as much time perhaps targeting the biggest races. Perhaps as a result his next two years weren’t quite as impressive (due to more riders marking him, plus more focus on the big races), though I also understand that he was suffering from some overtraining as a 24-25 year old. I think we’re seeing some of that with WvA and MvdP now, and I think people who expect that these two are shy of hitting their peaks (in terms of results) might be surprised and somewhat disappointed.

            I think there’s also something to the idea that riders have a lifespan of excellence (Valverde aside!), and those who are eye-poppingly good as 20 year olds might not expect to still be dominating in their early 30s. In many fields, not just athletics, a period of about a decade at the very top of one’s game is typical.

            Finally, I wonder to what extent the cleaner peloton is making a difference. A 32 year old rider has markedly less testosterone naturally than a 22 year old, and natural unaided recovery starts to become increasingly problematic with every year.

  6. “Noah’s Ark” 🙂
    Does the dropper gizmo really make a difference in road racing? Surely if it did teams like Ineos would have been using them for years (they are hardly new technology).

    • It’s a small help at best although given he was exploiting every inch of the road he’ll take what he can get. But I think we’re in danger of making it look like the seat post won Milan-Sanremo instead of Mohorič. You could equip the whole field with the same seatposts but it’s Mohorič who descends the fastest.

      • I think the dropper seat post is quite interesting. Anything that lowers the c of g on a descent has got to be safer. However, as Mohoric explained, there is a trade-off with pedalling effectiveness.
        I had asked my bike shop about one a year or more ago but he advised the seat height would be too high with my bike. Perhaps there is, or will soon be, more to choose from for road bikes now.

      • Exactly, looking at it objectively, let’s say the seatpost gave him 1 second on the descent.

        It didn’t help him maintain a gap until the finish.

        Overall, imho, Mohoric earned his win!

  7. Whether the dropper post made any difference or not its all everyone has been talking about since. I couldn’t really care less what he was using to hold his seat up but it seems I’m in a minority of cycling fans, most being determined to get very excited about equipment.

    • 100% agree. I wish people would stop talking about this little piece of equipment.

      Mohoric took down the giants of our sport with great descending and a huge effort on the final run in…

        • Define “massive”. In my head “massive” equals something giving you 1 second / km over your rivals. There’s zero chance that this new equipment had anything close to that effect. It might have given him 1 second total over the entire climb, but that’s it.

          Really, it’s a tiny reason why he won yesterday, nothing more – unless someone has direct evidence otherwise!

          • Direct evidence that the dropper helped him win by more than a tiny bit? Listen to Mohoričs interviews, listen to the riders saying how Mohorič was telling everyone about it during the race, and that they wouldn’t be able to keep up.

            The person who planned to use it, did use it, then raved about it afterwards, was also the winner. Of course, winning by a tiny bit, is still winning.

          • That isn’t scientific… Mohoric isn’t a physics PhD candidate, he is a bike racer.

            Pretty sure if he had a regular seatpost, Pogacar wouldn’t be able to descend on his wheel either.

          • Mohoric was in the front group on the descent with 4.6km to go. At the end of the descent with 2.4km to go he was 5-6 seconds ahead of the chasing group. That’s 2-3 seconds per km arising from ability and/or technology.

            How much less than 5-6 seconds would the gap have had to have been to allow Turgis, WVA and/or other chasers to bridge the gap?

            Long race. Pretty small margins. That’s why, in no particular order, dropper posts, aerodynamics, razor’s edge descending, race motos and domestiques present or absent are all instrumental in the final result. Every second counts especially in this race.

          • Moto and elite level descending made 99% of the gap. The company that created this and by extension Mohoric wishes it was more. People have bought in. It was a huge success.

  8. Seat post obsessions aside I thought it was another good Sanremo. The group over the Cipressa was much smaller than normal but still container decent sprinters in Demare and Nizzolo. Pogacar’s repeated attacks on the Poggio were entertaining, bringing in the excitement a littler earlier than normal, but Mohoric descent was so good it killed off the excitement a little earlier than normal as it was clear quite quickly that he was staying away. I always enjoy the poker games on the run from the Poggio to the Via Roma, that was missing this year a bit. It’s clear that, much like Van der Poel, Pogacar is going to make any race he is in entertaining. It’ll be interesting to see how he goes in Belgium.

    • I didn’t think he’d win but he gave it a right good go.
      Very impressive.
      Mohoric’s slalom descent was brushing past people’s garden gates so close it prompted Robbie McEwan to say something along the lines of “anyone watching on television might find Mohoric coming through the front door” 🤣🤣
      Good stuff.

    • I thought there was still some exciting cat and mouse on the run in. van Aert did a huge turn on the front and it looked liked the chasers would catch Mororic but as van Aert pulled over everyone sat up.

  9. I think Pogacar tried too many times yesterday. He could have used a team to make the first attack, not him.

    Also when it feels like many races are reserved for only Pogacar and Van Aert, good to see victory is open to others.

    • Pogacar might have been better off saving his attacks for the tailwind sections, he seemed to make about half of them into a headwind.

      • And hairpins weren’t used properly, either. I noticed that during the race, but then some Spanish rider, I can’t remember if it was Freire or Chozas, insisted on the subject while commenting afterwards.

        • That could have been the place to string out the riders and create gaps, to make what’s a wide road much narrower. Some riders did crash because of the speed but also fighting for position/the right wheel.

    • Pogačar did say in post-race that he made a mistake in attacking too early when it was still a headwind. By the time he attacked without the headwind, his legs looked a bit heavy.

  10. Great edition, from the moment UAE put on the gas on Cipressa it was a nail biter. I would have appreciated some more info on who made it to the front group. It was a lot of guesswork to find out who was still in the mix.

    • It’s an annual complaint here, we can get pointless watts (meaningless without weight, context etc) but can’t identify who is actually in the front group. The tech exists, you just need a timing chip mat on the road at the start and then again at the top of the Poggio.

  11. I saw the UCI put out a press release that dropper posts have been allowed since 2014 and they do not intend to change that as long as they comply with the other rules. So we don’t to debate that any further.

  12. My favourite moment of the race, halfway up the poggio – Robbie McEwen commented “tricky corner coming up here; got to be careful not to ride into the gates”. Promptly followed by some riders riding into the gates !

  13. A classic edition. When I watched it live it seemed like anything could happen. But afterwards it seemed like it could only have ended the way it did. Pogo showed his hand early, burned through his team before the Poggio and made attacks which the others could follow. When Mohoric went the favourites looked at each other and kept looking at each other until the line. The dropper post is new, rivals who can’t work together is the oldest outcome in bicycle racing.

  14. Just before the 1km to go mark, WVA has done his pull, MvdP is immediately behind having been on the front just before WVA was: none of the others seem willing/likely to come through (and maybe they never would have). But then WVA does what so many mistakenly do: rather than flick his arm and hope someone will come through while still pedalling and keeping the pace high, he pulls wide to the side and stops pedalling. The result of this is always the same: nobody comes through because you have swung off, and they think ‘We’re not riding as a unit: I’m going to do all the work here and be pipped in the sprint’.
    If you’re in the chasing group, the only way you can win is if you work – and then you have to persuade all the others to work. Swinging off produces the opposite of that response almost without exception.
    Excellent race, superb by Mohoric, and I still don’t know what a dropper post is.

  15. Inevitably, dropper post… ^__^
    IMHO, the whole story is a deliberate and knowing marketing operation rather than much else. Of course the guy says it was paramount for the victory! But he’s also sincere enough to comment that the whole idea came from the technical partner (i.e. the people producing and selling the «gizmo» 😉 ) and that he «wanted to make it work for them». It took reportedly a lot of time to have it finally working at its best in this specific descent. I’m not sure this can become a modus operandi, while what’s a well known and long working modus operandi is actually the marketing talk anticipating the move, then the celebration antics (which for a second looked something more embarassing) and finally hinting at mass market use suggesting something along the lines of «it’s great in traffic, too». Add to that the typical hyperboles from mass media which make a living out of selling infoads and no sort of doubt is left. Mohoric was from the very start, or actually before, a man on a mission, or two: winning a monument and placing a great advertisement. Under such conditions it’s very hard to judge the real importance of the dropper post, and surely you can’t take Mohoric’s or CN opinion on the subject as any sort of cold, objective appraisal.

    • And, yes, I know I’m now being part of it and thought a little bit before deciding to write on the subject, obviously after commenting on other aspects of the race and insisting on Mohoric being a huge descender and a deserving winner per se; but, at the end of the day, well, it’s just fun and as inrng loves to remember us all, marketing is sort of a core value for pro cycling. Mohoric hasn’t done anything awful (well, I hope people won’t start dying because of dropper posts) and he was naif or false naif enough to make it look graceful rather than a con of sort.

      • I’ve been using a dropper post on my gravel bike, after a friend recommended it. I can see how it may give you a slight edge in a descent, but I usually didn’t use it (by lack of planning ahead, I think). So I removed it altogether – plus, my frame couldn’t accommodate internal cables, so now it looks nicer without it.

        With all the talk about bike stiffness, I imagined that the pro riders didn’t use it because it decreased the energy transfer substantially enough to negate the advantages… but that was just a guess.

        However, I don’t see it as dangerous at all, in fact the lower seat position might lower your centre of gravity and increase your control. So as far as gimmicks go, I don’t see why this one wouldn’t get a pass.

      • I teach mountain biking, and I usually try to dissuade others to buy expensive bikes and gizmos. But I make an exception for dropper posts. A full height saddle is massively in the way of proper bike handling during descents, sharp corners and hard braking. It hinders keeping your weight low and centered, just as it makes moving the bike underneath you slower. This is true for road bikes as well as mountain bikes.
        People may start going on about how riders have been fine without for a century and a half, of course that is true. There are workarounds which are firmly in the muscle memory of most experienced riders, and adjusting your technique takes time.
        I am not saying dropper posts will be useful in every road race that features a descent. But I am firmly of the opinion that such a post will make descending safer for most average Joes and Janes, and I am glad that Mohoric put them on the radar for the road crowd. Even if the main reason he used it was commercial.

        • The line about life threatening potential of dropper posts was ironical, because I assumed everybody would feel that the opposite was true, in fact. Probably it needed some smiley. That said, I was commenting about this specific anecdote and related circumstances as presented in Mohoric’s words. It’s not the first time Mohoric grabs a win thanks to his descendink skills (among others, I recall a shocking descent in GP Larciano), nor is it the first Sanremo where descendin skills were paramount, of course. Besides the obvious Nibali, I remember a show of sort by Celestino (2nd behind Bettini in the great 2003 edition).

          • I did see others suggesting that droppers could lead people to be more reckless so I wasn’t sure if you were ironic or not. My experience is that they inspire confidence and this is part of why they make people more safe. From what I see, tightening up and braking too hard out of fear is a more common cause of dangerous situations than overconfidence.
            Apparently Mohoric used the dropper also for psychology, to inspire fear in his competitors, going by each of them to show it and say: don’t try to follow me down the Poggio because I am going all in and I have a dropper post mounted to prove that intention. Pogacar admitted it worked on him. Which I can imagine since he can afford to loose MSR but not to be injured in July.

      • “…marketing is sort of a core value for pro cycling. ”
        As in selling ever more needless, complicated and expensive s–t? Gawd, I hope that’s not truly a “core value” is it? 🙁

        • “Pro” is the key word above.
          Another one is “selling”.
          Selling *whatever*, that’s how sponsorship works and part of what makes the pros… pros (in cycling).

          The *other* fundamental part, greater than in most sports, is obviously public money, and hence values which public entities might want to promote (including commercial values more often than not, but far from limited to that – there’s a wide range of aspects from ecology to nationalism, from active life to road safety).

          Then, there’s the spectacle of the sport per se. Would the latter be enough to pay for the whole cost of running the sport, salaries included? Presently, not at all. Maybe keirin.

          Of course, the core values of *cycling* as such are a whole different matter.

  16. One shouldn’t be surprised a road cycling site has doubt about the effectiveness of a ‘dropper post’; they work, other wise they wouldn’t get used. If the riders with the most skills/technique (Downhillers/Enduro) think they’re good enough, then that’s good enough for me.

    • I’m sure they’re great for Downhillers/Enduro riders but I’m unsure of the utility/advantage for a 4km descent with 7-8 turns.

  17. Re the cynics suggesting that Mohoric’s praise for his dropper post was because he was being paid to say so:

    If that were the case, then he would have used a dropper post from one of his team sponsors, rather than a product from a rival manufacturer – Fox.

    His enthusiasm was genuine!

    • Just read his interview as quoted by most media. The idea originally *came from* the “technical partner” and there was a huge deal of previous rehearsal because he “wanted to make it work for them”. Now, he’s perhaps being paid specifically for that, or he just consider it part of his job, which also makes sense. But this was *his* angle, and there are less reason to doubt about this part than about the decisive role he may attribute to the post.

      • They seem to be sponsored by Vision /FSA for seat posts, and Shimano for other things. I think both these companies make droppers but they are small players in that market. Still it is strange that they would encourage the use of a Fox post. Merida has the round seat tube, perhaps they were the partner? Or Merida’s 49 percent owned US sister Specialized? They have been known to use Fox internals for their own branded equipment before.

  18. A simple question:
    How many of the others had their rear wheel wash out, then suddenly re-grip, without high-siding it? That, my friends, was all rider.

    • Yours truly, but same as with a moto (on a track with racing slicks) it’s been dumb luck. I’ve high-sided more than once on a moto (on a track with racing slicks) so I can’t chalk it up to skill as much as I’d love to agree with you.

  19. Mohoric pioneered pedalling in the supertuck position, something he undoubtedly would have used here were it not banned.
    The guy is acknowledged to be a superb descender and let’s not forget he had to get to the front exactly at the place where this could give the greatest advantage.
    At the start of the run in he had maybe nine seconds on a chasing bunch. This is nothing when the sprint gets going but nobody wanted to do the effort and gift the win.
    So yes, this was redemption for a rider whose big advantage and own invention had been banned. He took a plan B approach and it worked, so of course he is going to credit the mechanical feature that lets him retain the five points of contact and get into a kind of supertuck.
    Mohoric won a monument. People will also remember where it was won and the thing that enabled him to prove his skill.
    But yeah, the dropped chain was a bad moment for bike tech. It’s 2022 – sort it out!!

    • I’m assuming that the dropped chain was because of a gear change?
      Electronic gears I’m also assuming.
      That would be more of a rider error, miscalculating the speed when selecting a smaller ring maybe?
      I should know as I’ve done it often enough 😃

    • “But yeah, the dropped chain was a bad moment for bike tech. It’s 2022 – sort it out!!”
      I played the video back and forth but couldn’t really tell what happened. Hard-to-believe the chain dropped off, perhaps just shifted from big to small, maybe Mohoric accidently hit the lever? Sagan’s bike obviously failed – dead battery(?), but I couldn’t tell what happened with Mohoric’ bike but I do have to laugh at electronic shifting in general since so many tout it as foolproof despite there seeming to be plenty of fools around who can make it perform badly. We had a client a few years ago that couldn’t seem to make a simply downshift from big ring to small – I lost count of the times I stopped and put his chain back on! He said “Don’t worry, my Di2 bike doesn’t work any better!” As we used to say, “Some people can f__k up a junkyard!” 🙂

      • He seemed to change down when coming out of corners, presumably to accelerate quickly. Did he hit a bump in the road at the same time as he shifted? like you say, it was difficult to see, he may well have hit a lever by accident given the fatigue.

        • Perhaps his group went into crash mode or the power failed right then. Whatever, if stars of the sport can’t rely on their equipment maybe it’s time for a big rethink on electronic shifting and whether it’s really acceptable in proper races.

          Somehow, though, it’s more likely that ravitaillement will soon be for on-board batteries too, with an enforced stop for all riders, ‘to make it fair ‘ harhar

  20. “Whatever, if stars of the sport can’t rely on their equipment maybe it’s time for a big rethink on electronic shifting and whether it’s really acceptable in proper races.”
    The stars (and the rest) will use what they’re given for the most part, though I remember Nibali switching to cable-operated Shimano for some specific events but he also was rumored to be riding a bike with the only “Specialized” part on it being the sticker on the downtube…so…

  21. I’m not sure if the comment has already been made but whether or not the dropper post has a beneficial impact on how fast you can physically descend, I can see that believing it will, which it sounds like he did, will give a massive psychological boost. The added confidence probably means you push it more on the descent. Then there is the other side to it with him telling everyone that he will be faster than them on the descent because of it. It would certainly make me think twice about trying to follow him if I already knew him to be an incredibly skilled descender.

    I can totally see that the tow from the motorbikes is an unfair advantage but this is the case every year. From the complaints it sounds as if people are surprised that the aerodynamic conditions will be different if you are at the front of the race than if you are in the chasing group, somewhat akin to bonus seconds on the finish line.

  22. KevinK wrote “I wonder to what extent the cleaner peloton is making a difference.”? I wonder what evidence you have to suggest (other than wishful thinking or absence of cheats being caught) there’s a cleaner peloton?

    • I’m not interested in defending or documenting this, but my impression is there are many lines of evidence that indicate it’s much harder to dope than it was, and that legitimate improvements in sports medicine achieve at least a fair bit of what used to be gained illicitly. Aren’t we out of the days were riders hematocrits magically improved during the course of a grand tour, or riders maintained hematocrits of 56% and higher through much of the season? Testing is quite good at catching the use of corticosteroids, and the allowable excuses for that class of drugs appear to me to be much diminished. The stigma is also astronomical now. Look back at how teams and riders managed to continue even after huge scandals. That seems totally changed now. I know Sky had some shady stuff that they weathered, but they paid a price for that, and frankly the stuff they seem to have gotten away appears trivial compared to the the level of doping used in the past. We also no longer see riders who have had so-so careers into their late 20s who suddenly make quantum leaps in their performances.

      Are you suggesting that there was MORE effort to catch cheats 2000-2010, and we’re seeing fewer cheats caught now because it’s being covered up? Or that cheating is now so much more sophisticated that riders get the benefits of season-long 56% hematocrits and mid-Tour blood bags, amphetamines, and copious steroids and testosterone without any of it showing up in the frequent testing? The sport was almost destroyed by those doping scandals. WADA didn’t even exist until the 2000 season, and it took years before riders couldn’t just dodge tests willy-nilly. Do you think the powers that be (UCI, WADA, team sponsors, etc.) are so cynical that they’re willing to risk everything by turning a blind eye the way they did during the LA era?

      • I largely agree with you, but one rider stands out in regards to this comment:
        ‘We also no longer see riders who have had so-so careers into their late 20s who suddenly make quantum leaps in their performances.’
        Chris Froome. An also-ran until he was 26, when he suddenly became the world’s best grand tour rider.

        But maybe that really was because he was fighting five different illnesses:

        Bilharzia, a tropical disease caused by parasitic worms, contracted through contact with infected water, which kills up to 200,000 people per year.

        ●Typhoid, a potentially fatal bacterial infection that is extremely rare in the UK and can be prevented with vaccination.

        ●Urticaria, also known as hives, a skin condition that produces a nasty burning rash, that left Froome in pools of sweat in the night, scratching until he bled.

        ●Blastocystosis, another parasitic disease spread via contaminated food or water that can cause diarrhoea, abdominal cramps and weight loss.


        • I think the difference between Froome and, say, Rominger is dramatic, without even getting into Froome’s reported medical issues. As a 26 year old his big result was second in the Vuelta, with mediocre results in the ten other stage races that year — far from the best grand tour rider in the world, though clearly a solid step up from his previous years. As a 27 year old you could argue he was the second best grand tour rider, based primarily on his second in the TdF, though he also had credible fourth places in the Vuelta and the Dauphine. After those two years of steady and impressive growth he finally won the TdF at 28. He never ranked higher than 4th in PCS points, though, unlike Rominger who from ages 31-37 won 77 races after winning just 17 up through age 30.

          • Sorry but the above is nonsense.
            *Racing* a bike at any level requires learning a lot, then the jump to elite competition is even more brutal in terms of skills you need to hone (I could give you numberless examples of huge physical potential and lack of racing skills…), so, well, Rominger never rode a bike in any sort of competition until he was 20. He first went pro racing at 25, when people normally started at least 2 years before. And he was with Ferrari from scratch, or one season later at most. Hence, no, doping doesn’t explain much of it, as his actual athletic career does quite well. Now, compare with Froome’s bio. Then Roglic.

      • @KevinK
        Much of what you hint at in your second paragraph can be answered with a sort of tentative “uhmm, yes, perhaps”, but let’s stick with good ol’ Wittgenstein and leave it alone for the sake of the sport 😉

        Trying to avoid speaking of the present, let me just write down some sparse and disconnected notes.

        Historical detail. So many positive tests and scandals right after the Armstrong era depended mainly on the UCI-organisers war.
        Even during recent times, police operations showed that blood doping was still practiced well into the second decade of this century. I had the impression that in cycling the whole promising thing had eventually been swept under the carpet, just suggesting potentially involved subjects to keep a lower profile from then on, but whatever – this would come close to speaking of the present.
        Experts who participated in creating the “biological passport” left as as soon as they became aware of the use it was being given.
        Legal practices, borderline practices or technological improvements, including better training techniques, tend to be common excuses to justify situations which do follow worrying patterns. Which doesn’t prove anything, for sure – yet should perhaps be looked into.
        WADA ain’t no good as a guarantee for a clean sport. They’re essentially a political tool heavily dependant on asymmetric funding.
        By the way, isn’t it curious that detection approaches which don’t directly belong to the world of the sport (mainly police operations, seldom enough journos and so) usually run into vast networks and organised team practices, whereas WADA and sport agencies tend more often than not to only spot single cases of “rotten apples”?
        Lastly, as a mere curioity. during the 2000s it became clear that pushing up your hematocrit as high as it could get wasn’t always such an effective practice, performance-wise. Red cell volume and their relative capacity to store hemoglobin mattered a lot and keeping HCT around 42-45% but working on the other factors was way better, not just to go undetected, but to achieve a more efficient O2 transport. This is the sort of thing which needs serious expertise to be worked on, not the sort of country GPs who often took care of the business during the 2010s.

        All in all, doping is a social system, not an individual practice, and the way it works plus its impact do depend a lot on a series of concentric or overlapping circles (teams, doping networks, national institutions, including police forces, research centres, NADOs, sport institutions…) whose interrelation is often *much more* determining than the biotechnological potential of a given practice.
        The embedding of commercial teams and national public sporting structure, high-level cover-ups, availability of materials or techniques, that kind of things.

        Disclaimer: all the above doesn’t mean that doping should be made legal, or that we just shouldn’t care, or that sort of BS. Although official antidoping is often a farce, and the collective antidoping feelings do border pure hypocrisy and sheer nationalism more often than not, it’s paramount that a social pressure of sort is there to be felt. Any partial result is still a result, however often belated. From the old HCT limits to moderating the shame of TUEs (thanks Russia ^__^) , from biopassport, misused as it be, to banning glucocoticosteroids or tramadol. Note that it’s not a linear or progressive process through which the sport becomes “cleaner” (when the amphetamines era came to an end of sort, the sport was on the brink of becoming actually “less clean”). The impact of biotechnologies and pharmaceutics in sports is hence fluctuating and it’s close to impossible to know if you’re living a peak until historical perspective and different disclosures come into play. Yet, if there was no social pressure, it would probably escalate soon, far overcoming control and human-health tolerance (much more than it actually does) without anyone really caring… or being able to stop it. If such an obnoxious outcome ends up happening, sometimes, in the “health care” systems, even in public ones (for those who’re lucky enough to have one), just imagine in the showbiz of pro sport!

        • Grazie! What you wrote in response to KevinK was way better than what I’d have written though it expresses the same ideas. These days IMHO it’s too easy to declare a “cleaner peloton” when it’s pretty much impossible to know. That idea works well for anyone making $$ in the sport so it’s not surprising, but folks who are just fans of pro cycling kind-of split into two camps – the “Nothing to see here folks!” or “Maybe it’s better, maybe it’s not” if you exclude the “They all dope, let ’em do whatever they want and let the best doper win!” faction. I would like to be in the first camp but instead am in the second…but far, far away from the third!

        • I know our host isn’t fond of these discussions, and that such discussion can never be resolved, so this will be my last comment (not that I don’t enjoy being pushed a little to justify my conclusions). Here are just a few random responses to your disconnected notes:

          “…tend to be common excuses to justify situations which do follow worrying patterns.”

          It appears to me that the patterns we’re seeing now aren’t much like the patterns of, say, 2000-2010 (to say nothing of the 1990s). Now we see established, winning riders fading as they age and being regularly beaten by much younger riders. Those younger riders often come out of programs and places that don’t seem to have much history of sophisticated cheating, and have a clear pattern of youthful success, often in other cycling disciplines. The pattern in the past seemed to be top riders doing great year after year, often steadily improving as they aged. Of course there are races recently that have raised eyebrows, but to watch cycling in the ’90s and 2000’s was to have one’s eyebrows permanently pulled to the clouds. Head scratching performances were the norm, not the exception.

          I know WADA is super political, and that key people have quit the biological passport system. But at the same time the amount of testing is not inconsequential, and we’ve seen no cases I know of where pro riders having positive tests suppressed or hidden like we did in the past.

          “… isn’t it curious that detection approaches which don’t directly belong to the world of the sport (mainly police operations, seldom enough journos and so) usually run into vast networks and organised team practices,…”

          Operation Anderlass seemed to be a few individual riders working with a tired old doping (country) doctor using techniques that were that go back at least 50 years, and seems far from a ‘vast network.’ I know there have been some police raids of cycling teams in the last few years, but I can’t recall any positive findings, but maybe I missed something. Since the outing of LA and many others ten or so years ago, which are the vast networks and organized teams that have been caught in cycling at the
          WT level (yes, I know there are certain countries and lower level teams with tainted histories that continue to throw off riders with positive tests sporadically, but I’m looking for the vast networks and organized teams)? I know there are some very shady team doctors with clear doping histories who just so happen to continue to work for some very successful teams. This is disgusting and suggestive, but to my knowledge there’s no smoking guns found in the last 10 years or so. Or am I forgetting some big cases in the last decade?

          “The embedding of commercial teams and national public sporting structure, high-level cover-ups, availability of materials or techniques, that kind of things.”

          If you’re talking about sports in Russia, and apparently in China in certain sports, yeah, I agree. But I don’t see that in other countries, at least when it comes to cycling. As I said above to Larry, we’re in a place where for most WT cycling teams a doping scandal is a death penalty. No, not all teams, but those that rely on commercial sponsors cannot afford the taint. Maybe I’m totally wrong about this, but my impression is a just one or two high-profile doping cases could easily devastate the entire sport, which still feels like it’s in a precarious place in the global marketplace. Now you can argue, cynically I think, that such anti-doping pressures are just as likely to lead to coverups as to righteous
          exposure, but I’m not so sure.

          In the 1990s there were a fair number of current and recently retired riders willing to speak the truth, and a few journalists will to report it and dig for the story. And that was in the face of what seemed a tremendous omerta, and a lawsuit-crazy and powerful LA. I don’t think that same omerta exists now, and yet I don’t see a stream of young riders quitting in response to being
          pushed to dope, or older riders who refuse to play the game complaining that this is the reason they’re quitting. Where are the canaries in the coalmine?

          Ultimately, my only point was that, relative to the recent past, I am convinced that the peloton is fundamentally cleaner that it was from 1990 to about 2010. I know there was doping before that, but I think it was on a different level, and I think whatever might be going on now is also on a different level. And in particular I think this tips things a little bit towards younger riders who have naturally higher levels of testosterone and growth hormone (peak in late teens/early 20s), who have fully developed lung function (age 20-25), who have superior recuperative powers, and who have ready access to high-level training regimens that used to be guarded knowledge of a few specialists. I think it’s also a world where, sans ‘special help,’ the most genetically lucky will have an even greater edge on the slightly less genetically lucky.

          • I won’t delve further into it, either, but right where you write Russia and China, I was thinking a list in Western Europe from Conconi (“con CONI” ^__^) to Team Sky. You know, I guess, where the latter did often train, got their goods delivered, by whom, common sponsorship, that sort of things 😉
            And, well, “swept under the carpet” is a key sentence above.

        • Gabriele – I couldn’t agree more.

          Today’s peloton is still using sophisticated medical help, and I’m not saying it is dirty, but the types of medical help our athletes use is definitely not available to the average joe at zero cost. Also, a rider could not win on bread and water alone, that’s not physically possible. However, it is all very sophisticated, supervised by medical help and team doctors, etc.

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