"La Primavera,” the season’s first monument classic takes place on Saturday on the familiar route - south from Milan across the plains before climbing the Turchino pass and onto the coast with the three small 'capi' climbs awaiting them before the peloton reaches the famed Cipressa and Poggio climbs then dropping down to the finish at the outskirts of San Remo.
Despite talk in previous years of introducing a new climb - La Pompeiana between Cipressa and the Poggio (which would favour climbing all rounders such as Nibali) - it seems destined to remain the Sprinters Classic but can be, and is occasionally, won by a late break (a-la, Kelly, Cancellara, Goss). So, even with lots of control being exerted by sprinters teams over the Cipressa and Poggio, the main man still has to have it in his legs (after nearly 300km) to do the business as the line beckons and there have been a number of extremely close calls with the race won by barely a few CMs. The road always tells......
For these reason, and unlike other monuments, the list of potential winners is long and its difficult to pick a winner with any certainty.
My picks for a winner is for either Van Avermaet or Gaviria - he was fifth last year at his first attempt - both have already shown good form this year. Demare is reigning the champion after a somewhat controversial finish last year and has already being going well in Paris-Nice and Sagan as ever has to be a hot tip. It would be great to see Sam Bennett lead out Sagan for the win, but it will be challenge for him not to be marked out of the race and pipped at the line.
Apart from Sam, another Irishman on the startlist is Stephen Clancy (of this parish, I think?) for Team Novo Nordisk.
Race starts at 9:10am
Finish at around 3:50pm
Live video from 1:00pm
The weather is often a factor and can be lovely...
...or not so
The forecast for the finish is good and looks to be consistent even at the start:
There are very few lesser known riders who have won this race.....
1986 Republic of Ireland Sean Kelly (IRL) Skil-Sem Kas
1987 Switzerland Erich Maechler (SUI) Carrera Jeans–Vagabond
1988 France Laurent Fignon (FRA) Système U – Gitane
1989 France Laurent Fignon (FRA) Super U-Raleigh-Fiat
1990 Italy Gianni Bugno (ITA) Chateau d'Ax–Salotti
1991 Italy Claudio Chiappucci (ITA) Carrera Jeans–Tassoni
1992 Republic of Ireland Sean Kelly (IRL) Lotus–Festina
1993 Italy Maurizio Fondriest (ITA) Lampre–Polti
1994 Italy Giorgio Furlan (ITA) Gewiss–Ballan
1995 France Laurent Jalabert (FRA) ONCE
1996 Italy Gabriele Colombo (ITA) Gewiss Playbus
1997 Germany Erik Zabel (GER) Team Telekom
1998 Germany Erik Zabel (GER) Team Telekom
1999 Belgium Andrei Tchmil (BEL) Lotto–Mobistar
2000 Germany Erik Zabel (GER) Team Telekom
2001 Germany Erik Zabel (GER) Team Telekom
2002 Italy Mario Cipollini (ITA) Acqua & Sapone-Cantina Tollo
2003 Italy Paolo Bettini (ITA) Quick-Step–Davitamon
2004 Spain Óscar Freire (ESP) Rabobank
2005 Italy Alessandro Petacchi (ITA) Fassa Bortolo
2006 Italy Filippo Pozzato (ITA) Quick-Step–Innergetic
2007 Spain Óscar Freire (ESP) Rabobank
2008 Switzerland Fabian Cancellara (SUI) Team CSC
2009 United Kingdom Mark Cavendish (GBR) Team Columbia–High Road
2010 Spain Óscar Freire (ESP) Rabobank
2011 Australia Matthew Goss (AUS) HTC–Highroad
2012 Australia Simon Gerrans (AUS) GreenEDGE
2013 Germany Gerald Ciolek (GER) MTN–Qhubeka
2014 Norway Alexander Kristoff (NOR) Team Katusha
2015 Germany John Degenkolb (GER) Team Giant–Alpecin
2016 France Arnaud Démare (FRA) FDJ
Some good previews here:
Should Sagan save everything on the sprint or try to cull some of the likely lads like Cavendish & Gaviria by attacking on the Poggio? Also wondering is GVA enough of a sprinter to win unless there's been a very small selection at the death?
If Sagan is there or thereabouts on the Poggio, I reckon it is destined to end in a mass sprint. Sagan has a mellowing effect on races and no other rider wants him in tow when it comes to the line so it will possibly all back up behind him. In that scenario, Degenkolb, Kristoff, Gaviria etc etc are going to mug him...............I think. He needs to be away and gone early maybe - What are the chances of that? Maybe that's Sam's chance - if Bora are prepared to have a clear plan B?
Decent odds on Ben Swift who has got great form in MSR @ 33/1 ew and Elia Viviani @ 50/1.
Good work TheBlaaMan
If Sam doesn't manage to win his first monument (), I'll be happy with a win for Sagan. An attack just on the crest of the Poggio and holding the chase group at bay until the finish line would be class.
Degenkolb for me
Is it defo on Saturday, isn't it always on a Sunday or am I losing my marbles altogether?
Always on Saturday afaik.
A sprinter will win.
Jaysus, I have watched so many of these and for some reason I still thought it was a Sunday, **** I am losing my marbles...
Come on Sam Bennett
Was on Sunday for a few years there. Reverted to Saturday last year, I think.
Thanks be to ****, I really did think I was losing it