Sixty-two years after his grandfather Raymond Poulidor won Milano-San Remo, Mathieu van der Poel (Alpecin-Deceuninck) put in a pulverising performance to win the first Monument of the season on the via Roma in style.
The Dutchman attacked from a leading quartet near the top of the Poggio to open up a small but decisive gap over Slovenia’s Tadej Pogacar (UAE Team Emirates), Belgium’s Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma) and Italy’s Filippo Ganna (Ineos Grenadiers).
Van der Poel’s advantage was only a few seconds – but that was all it took as he put in a textbook descent and then increased his lead on the home straight to become the fourth Dutchman to win La Classicissima after Arie Den Hartog, Jan Raas and Hennie Kuiper.
Ganna powered clear to take second place ahead of Van Aert and Pogacar as the chasers came home 15 seconds behind the lone victor, whose team-mate Soren Kragh Andersen took fifth place ahead of Danish compatriot Mads Pedersen (Trek-Segafredo) to complete a perfect day for Alpecin-Deceuninck.
“I cannot imagine a better scenario than this one,” Van der Poel said after winning the second Monument of his career, after two earlier victories in the Tour of Flanders.
“I already told the team that there was a headwind on Cipressa so it was not as hard as previous years. But I already felt that my legs were still fresh. I knew I wanted to place an attack at the end of the Poggio and I managed to find a small gap between Pogacar and the wall. This is one of the races I really wanted to win. The way I won it today, I think it’s beyond expectation – I’m really happy.”
Asked whether the win was all the more special for following in his grandfather’s footsteps, Van der Poel said: “For sure. It’s special not only because he won it, but because it’s a Monument and it’s one that every ride wants to win. I was really focused on this race since I started training again after the cyclocross worlds. I needed some race days at Tirreno-Adriatico to get to my best level and, today, this was my best level I think.”
Defending champion Matej Mohoric (Bahrain-Victorious) also finished in the second chase group 26 seconds down to take eighth place behind American Nielson Powless (EF Education-EasyPost) and ahead of Frenchman Anthony Turgis (TotalEnergies) and the 2021 champion Jasper Stuyven (Trek-Segafredo) of Belgium.
More to follow…
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