Milan San Remo

Milan San Remo Tune-up

20 Mar , 2015  

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 races, 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 Alexander Kristoff was present at the French race as were the winners of the 2012 and 2011 editions, Simon Gerrans and Matt Goss.

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 podium


Even though three of the last four winners have ridden Paris-Nice, this chart shows that Tirreno-Adriatico has been the overwhelming 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 last year 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
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.

So it’s good news for all the pre-race favourites this weekend who chose Tirreno-Adriatico thereby foregoing a couple of extra days rest.

But it’s bad news for Mark Cavendish, who abandoned Tirreno-Adriatico before its conclusion this week. No rider has abandoned this race (or indeed Paris-Nice) 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 (interestingly, more chose to ride Paris-Nice):

Paris-Nice: Alexander Kristoff, John Degenkolb, Michael Matthews, Nacer Bouhanni, Philippe Gilbert, Michal Kwiatkowski, Andre Greipel, Ben Swift, Arnaud Demare, Heinrich Haussler

Tirreno-Adriatico: Peter Sagan, Mark Cavendish, Fabian Cancellara, Greg van Avermaet, Zdenek Stybar, Filippo Pozzato, Vincenzo Nibali, Sam Bennett

Neither: Juan Jose Lobato, Alejandro Valverde

, , , , , , ,

Milan San Remo

Milan San Remo Trivia Special

20 Mar , 2011  

Matt Goss’s victory in Milan San Remo came after one of the most exciting races in recent years. It also threw up many an interesting fact to keep us sad anoraks occupied and amused.

It was the first victory in Milan San Remo by an Australian, and indeed it was also the first win in this race by any rider from outside of Europe. Goss isn’t the first Australian winner of a monument classic though, as that honour befell Stuart O’ Grady in 2007 when he won Paris-Roubaix.

Thor Hushovd was a major favourite before the race and was aiming to win La Primavera as the reigning World Champion. Even though Oscar Freire has won Milan San Remo and the World Road Race Championship on three occasions each, he never tasted victory in San Remo while wearing the Rainbow Jersey. As it happened, both Freire and Hushovd ended up in the wrong half of the split peloton as both riders succumbed to crashes. The last rider to achieve this feat was Giuseppe Saronni way back in 1983. Indeed, having won the Worlds in Goodwood in 1982, he accomplished the ultimate Italian hat-trick of winning the Tour of Lombardy, Milan San Remo and the Giro d’Italia all as World Champion.

Sticking with the road race champion theme, Giovanni Visconti, the current Italian national champion had a chance to accomplish a feat which hasn’t been done since long before Saronni’s time. The last rider to win Milan San Remo as the Italian champion was Adolfo Leoni in 1942. But unfortunately for Visconti he also ended up in the massive chase group which got left behind with about 80km to go.

Goss’s win in Milan San Remo has been preceded in the last few years by victories for Freire, Mark Cavendish, Fabian Cancellara and Freire again. Thus, it has been five years since an Italian has won the sprinters’ classic; that was Filippo Pozzato in 2006. Italians are fond of winning their own races (five years is the longest stretch the Giro has ever gone without a home winner), but this current run of five years is not even nearly the most in a row without an Italian Milan San Remo winner. Since Loretto Petrucci’s win in 1953, the Italians had to endure victories by foreigners from Belgium, France, Germany, Great Britain, Spain and The Netherlands before Michele Dancelli ended the 16-year barren spell in 1970. Even Raymond Poulidor tasted victory in the meantime – he didn’t always finish second!

Filippo Pozzato was only notable in this year’s edition because he continued doing what he has done in the last number of classics. He didn’t attack and instead marked and chased down one of the major favourites for victory. Tom Boonen has been on the wrong end of the stick in the past, but this time Pozzato set his sights on nullifying Phillipe Gilbert’s chances of victory by successfully chasing him down inside the final two kilometres. Pozzato’s previous classic victory remains the 2006 edition of Milan San Remo. His race tactics continue to suggest that it will be his last. As for Gilbert, despite being chased down by Pozzato, he still managed third place which continues his remarkable run in the classics. He has now finished in the top 10 of the last eight monument classics he has ridden.

Pozzato’s appearance in the top five did lead to a rather interesting stat. Matt Goss finished on the podium ahead of Cancellara and Gilbert, both former winners of monument classic. If we include Goss as a monument winner (which is cheating a little bit but we’ll carry on), that’s a podium filled with monument winners. This has actually happened in Milan San Remo before on six occasions, including last year with Freire, Boonen and Petacchi finishing in that order. The other years where this has occurred are 1974, 1959, 1958, 1930 and 1920.

But with Alessandro Ballan and Filippo Pozzato finishing in fourth and fifth this year, the top five places were filled with monument winners. This has never happened before in Milan San Remo and only goes to accentuate what Matt Goss was up against in winning this race.

And I did all that without mentioning Sean Kelly’s win in 1992…

, ,