Five milestones of the 2021 Milano-Sanremo: Alaphilippe, van der Poel e van Aert, the top three riders of the early season.
5.5 km to go to Sanremo.
We are atop the Poggio, the closing ascent, the final impediment before the finish along the Via Roma, the decisive moment of every Classicissima.
One thing’s for sure in this otherwise erratic and unpredictable race. Along the Poggio, the classics hunters – and the climbers all the more – will do anything to distance the fast men, the hot favourites for a bunch sprint. Another certainty for 2021 was that the first attempt would come from either Alaphilippe, van der Poel or van Aert, the top three riders of the early season.
Above, you can see them lined up behind one another, just before going over the summit. The world champion had lit the fuse, and the Dutch national champion and the Belgian ace immediately followed his attack. They pushed up the pace, in an attempt to clip clear before the descent. Schachmann, however, remained in contact, and so did Ewan – perhaps the one they wish they’d distanced the most.
If the Poggio failed to make a difference, is there still a chance to hold off the sprinters?
Of course there is. This is Milano-Sanremo, the most unpredictable race of all.
How, when and where? I’ll tell you in the next (and final) episode.