Quick-Step Floors will start this weekend’s Milan-San Remo with a number of cards to play with Julian Alaphilippe, Philippe Gilbert and Elia Viviani all included in the team.
Last year, Alaphilippe impressed at his debut in the race, when he counterattacked on the Poggio before putting in a daredevil descent and sprinting to third. Gilbert will start the 45th Monument start of his career in a classic in which he podiumed twice (2008, 2011), and Viviani, another contender for a strong result on the famed Via Roma, who comes into the race following a storming start to his season, which saw the Italian score five victories in the first two months.
Almost 300 kilometres in length and seven hours in the saddle, the classic is dubbed by many as “the easiest in the world, but the most difficult to win” and will run this weekend its 109th edition. According to the latest forecast, the race will be a wet one from start to finish,
After an early morning start in Milan, it will take several hours before the peloton will face the day’s first difficulty, Passo del Turchino, the climb used as launch pad to victory by Fausto Coppi, more than seven decades ago.
Capo Mele, Capo Cervo and Capo Berta will soften the bunch before the Cipressa (5.6 km, 4.1%) and the iconic Poggio. The latter was introduced on the course at the 1960 edition and averages only 3.7% over 3.7 kilometers, but despite that, it will weigh heavily in the outcome as it features just nine kilometres from the finish.
Supporting the Quick Step Floors trio in the first Monument of 2018 will be Tim Declercq, Iljo Keisse, Maximiliano Richeze and Fabio Sabatini.
“It’s always difficult to understand this race and predict what will happen, because a win depends on a number of factors and can come after a multitude of scenarios, but one thing that’s certain is we are going there with a strong team and several cards to play”, said Gilbert when asked about Saturday’s race.
“I was a bit sick in Tirreno-Adriatico, but I’m happy for finishing the race and adding some valuable kilometres under the belt before Sanremo. It’s one of the biggest classics of the year and we are ready for it, despite not having Fernando in the team. The confidence is there, the squad, as I said, is a solid one and doesn’t lack options, and we’ll just see what the race will bring.”