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Dutchman counters Pogačar

114th Milano-Sanremo 2023 Photo by Tim de Waele/Getty Images

Chris’ Recap:

Mathieu van der Poel of Alpecin Fenix ended a 38-year Dutch drought at Milano-Sanremo by attacking the star-studded finishing quartet in the final few meters of the Poggio ascent, countering a move by UAE’s Tadej Pogačar and getting some space which he lengthened on the descent, soloing home to victory by a handful of seconds. In winning his second of the five Monuments, van der Poel joins his grandfather Raymond Poulidor in the winners’ circle, as well as decorated countrymen Hennie Kuiper and Jan Raas. Filippo Ganna of INEOS took second for the home crowd in Sanremo ahead of Jumbo Visma’s Wout Van Aert.

114th Milano-Sanremo 2023 Photo by Tim de Waele/Getty Images

Van der Poel’s win was a mild surprise, given his less glittering form in past weeks and the soaring form and confidence of Pogačar, but in hindsight it seems silly we were taken in. Pogačar rode the exact race we expected, saving his energy for the Poggio, where he followed the surge of teammate Tim Wellens to lose all but the top five chasers, and when Wellens swung off, Pogačar upped the pace with van der Poel, Van Aert and Ganna digging very, very deep to stay in contact. But they did just that, led by van der Poel, who went to the front and countered as soon as Pogačar’s pace slackened.

Van Aert led the chase down the Poggio and could see van der Poel right in front of him, some three seconds ahead, in the steeper corners, but as the gradient slackened and Van Aert kept feeling the pressure, the lead doubled and more, to the point where when van der Poel hit the final flat road into Sanremo, the race suddenly looked over.

114th Milano-Sanremo 2023 Photo by Tim de Waele/Getty Images

While van der Poel zipped up to celebrate, Ganna found a few more of his prodigiously powerful pedalstrokes to get a gap on Van Aert and seal second place ahead of the Belgian former winner, with Pogacar left to take the scraps.

The day’s break was reeled in on the Cipressa with little impact. Trek spent much of the day powering the race trying to position Mads Pedersen. Meanwhile, crashes were minimal but some late-stage ones took down Jumbo lead-out Jan Tratnik, and Bora’s sprint hope Sam Bennett fell by the wayside in a messy spill with 30km left. Up the Cipressa UAE moved into position and put Pogacar in the driver’s seat, as expected, spitting out several of the pure sprinters, but not devastating the peloton. Nils Politt tried a flier for Bora after the race came off the Cipressa, but went nowhere and the bigs set up for the Poggio.

Van der Poel’s grandfather Poulidor won the race here in 1961. His father Adri van der Poel finished seventh on two occasions in the 1980s. So when he was fifth two years ago and third last year, it seemed like a victory was not far off for Mathieu. He had a teammate, often sprinter deluxe Jasper Philipsen and late on the Poggio Quinten Hermans, but in the end van der Poel was left to work for himself, and he showed throughout the final 40 minutes that he was up to the task.

114th Milano-Sanremo 2023 Photo by Tim de Waele/Getty Images


  1. VAN DER POEL Mathieu, Alpecin-Deceuninck, 6:25:23
  2. GANNA Filippo, INEOS Grenadiers, at 0:15
  3. VAN AERT Wout, Jumbo-Visma
  4. POGAČAR Tadej, UAE Team Emirates
  5. KRAGH ANDERSEN Søren, Alpecin-Deceuninck
  6. PEDERSEN Mads, Trek - Segafredo
  7. POWLESS Neilson, EF Education-EasyPost
  8. MOHORIČ Matej, Bahrain - Victorious
  9. TURGIS Anthony, TotalEnergies
  10. STUYVEN Jasper, Trek - Segafredo

Abbiategrosso - Sanremo 294 km

The first, the longest, and the most slow boiling and ultimately frantic of all the monuments is upon us. Happy Primavera!

Estimated finish time: 16:50-17:30.

King of the Greenhouses : Caleb Ewan

So many others mentioned and Ewan looks a bit of a lost cause at times but at some point something has to go right for the little guy and he’s shown before that this should be a race he wins one day.

Official site , Start list