Milan-San Remo Preparation

Which is the best race to ride yourself into form for Milan-San Remo? Is it Paris-Nice? Or is it Tirreno-Adriatico?

While the respective race organisers ASO and RCS try to tempt the major G.C. riders to their events, the classics stars are also faced with a choice of how best to prepare for the first monument classic of the season.

Take a look at the results of Milan-San Remo for the last few years and it’s easy to jump to the conclusion that Paris-Nice provides the better preparation. Last year’s winner John Degenkolb was present at the French race as were the winners of the 2014, 2012 and 2011 editions, Alexander Kristoff, Simon Gerrans and Matt Goss. Additionally, all three podium finishers last year chose Paris-Nice – Degenkolb, Kristoff and Michael Matthews.

But dig a bit deeper into the results lists and a different picture emerges. The following bar chart shows the breakdown of which race was preferred by the podium finishers in Milan-San Remo for the past 10 years:

Milan San Remo Prep 2016 - Top 3

Even though four of the last five winners have ridden Paris-Nice, this chart shows that Tirreno-Adriatico has been the preferred choice of the top contenders in Milan San Remo for the last decade. The ‘one’ in the ‘Neither’ column was Ben Swift who finished third in 2014 having taken the unorthodox decision to ride the single day Nokere Koerse in Belgium while all of his closest rivals were in France or Italy.

Let’s dig deeper still and extend the data to include the top 10 finishers for the last 10 years:

Milan San Remo Prep 2016 - Top 10
This chart again shows quite definitively that Tirreno-Adriatico is the race of choice for Milan San Remo hopefuls.

The four riders, along with Swift, who didn’t ride either during this period were Juan Jose Lobato (2104), Ian Stannard (2013), Bernard Eisel (2013) and Robbie Hunter (2007). In recent years the lean towards Tirreno Adriatico has actually been even heavier as no top 10 in Milan San Remo has had more than two riders from Paris-Nice since 2008 – last year being the notable exception.

It may simply be a matter of geography and logistics. Perhaps riders and their teams are more inclined to choose to race Tirreno-Adriatico simply because it takes place in the same country as Milan-San Remo. Whatever the reason, it’s good news for all the pre-race favourites this weekend who chose the Italian stage race thereby foregoing a couple of extra days rest.

But it’s bad news for Alexander Kristoff, who abandoned Paris-Nice before its conclusion this week. No rider has abandoned this race (or indeed Tirreno-Adriatico) and gone on to win Milan San Remo in the past 10 years. Just one rider has abandoned Tirreno-Adriatico and finished on the podium (Thor Hushovd 2009) and just one abandoned Paris-Nice before finishing on the podium a week later (Tom Boonen 2007).

The following is a list of the top 20 bookies favourites and in which race they chose to hone their form before this weekend:

Paris-Nice: Alexander Kristoff, Michael Matthews, Nacer Bouhanni, Ben Swift, Arnaud Demare, Niccolo Bonifazio, Tony Gallopin, Juan Jose Lobato

Tirreno-Adriatico: Peter Sagan, Fernando Gaviria, Mark Cavendish, Fabian Cancellara, Greg van Avermaet, Zdenek Stybar, Vincenzo Nibali, Edvald Boassan-Hagen, Michal Kwiatkowski, Giacomo Nizzolo, Elia Viviani, Diego Ulissi


Disclaimer: I plagiarised this article from myself from this time last year. It’s simply an updated version taking last year into account. I’m not sorry.

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  1. Nick - March 15, 2016 @ 2:23 pm

    Is it worth comparing these numbers with the number of MSR *starters* who participated in Paris-Nice or Tirreno-Adriatico? If roughly twice as many MSR starters participated in the latter race, that more or less explains the variance in the winner and podium figures.

  2. Irish Peloton - March 16, 2016 @ 11:53 am

    Yeah, definitely worth doing. Sounds like a lot of work though!

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