Team News: 5th for BMC at Milan Sanremo

Jürgen Roelandts 5th for BMC in Milan San Remo – “It was a dangerous, windy, rainy race” says the teams DS Max Sciandri

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Team News: 5th for BMC at Milan Sanremo

After claiming third place in 2016, Jürgen Roelandts impressed in his Monument debut with BMC Racing Team to sprint to fifth place at Milan-San Remo behind winner Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain Merida). Despite being the longest one-day race of the year at 294km, Milan-San Remo is known as the easiest race to finish but hardest to win, and it often not until the final 30km when the action heats up.

The 2018 edition followed this tradition with a nine-rider breakaway going clear in the first 10km and building a seven-minute advantage over the breakaway, ensuring that the action would not come until much later in the race. After initially bringing the gap down to 1’35” with 150km to go, the peloton eased off and allowed the breakaway’s advantage to increase to 5’30” before bringing it down again on the approach to the Capo Mele.
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After a relatively quiet race, BMC Racing Team entered the game for the first time with 50km to go when Francisco Ventoso led the BMC Racing Team train to the front of the bunch where Greg Van Avermaet was surrounded by teammates. It was Ventoso who took over the chase with 35km to go and with Van Avermaet in his wheel, he brought the bunch to within 23 seconds of the remaining breakaway riders.

The last four breakaway riders were pulled back with 30km to go and the race hit the reset button in anticipation of the iconic Cipressa and the Poggio climbs. A strong headwind deterred any attacks on the Cipressa which meant the Poggio was the last chance for attacks from riders wanting to avoid a bunch sprint in San Remo. Van Avermaet was well position at the foot of the Poggio where Alberto Bettiol was caught up behind a nasty crash, meanwhile at the front of the bunch, Jempy Drucker attacked to bridge to Marcus Burghardt (Bora-hansgrohe) before going clear and leading the race for the next 1.5km.

As Drucker was caught, Nibali launched his attack just before the summit of the Poggio and with 5km to go, he had a 12-second advantage over the chase group featuring Van Avermaet and Roelandts. Nibali maintained his advantage with 2km to go and on the finishing straight with 500 meters to go, a frantic sprint behind played out for the remaining podium places.

Nibali held on to take the win and Roelandts showed his strength at the end of the 294km race to cross the line in fifth place, while Van Avermaet finished in the same chase group in 17th place.
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Jürgen Roelandts: “There was a lot of headwind in the race which blocked the race. It was quite a cold race with a lot rain, then sun, then rain again so the whole day we were wet and of course you feel this in the final. The tempo on the Cipressa and Poggio was not so high because of the headwind. I think it is quite amazing that Vincenzo Nibali stayed in front with this headwind so he must have been really strong. In the sprint, I took Kristoff’s wheel because he always has a good sprint in Milan-San Remo, especially after 300km. From the Poggio to the finish, I was on his wheel and I had a nice result after it.”

“This fifth place is good for my confidence because at the beginning of Paris-Nice I still had some pain in my hip but that went away in the end. To have a fifth place here is a good sign for the next races that are coming up. The next one is E3 Harelbeke which Greg won last year and I think he is in really good condition so we will try to be in the final there to set him up for hopefully the same result as last year. I hope to keep this condition in the next few weeks and be in the finals with Greg.”

Greg Van Avermaet: “I think Vincenzo [Nibali] did a nice race. if you can attack that way on the Poggio, then you have good legs. So chapeau to him. For me, it was a moment of hesitation on the Poggio as I looked to the other favorites and that’s why the gap opened up. I tried to follow the other guys but we never closed the gap and I was fifth or sixth on the descent of the Poggio. Then it was a sprint and Jürgen Roelandts did a good job so in the end, we had a result. I was pretty happy with my shape.”

“The headwind blocked a lot of attacks and it was hard to open up the race. This was why there were never really any attacks because if you went away, it was a full headwind. Because of this I think it was not the nicest race to watch.”

Maximilian Sciandri, Sports Director: “In the end, fifth place for Jürgen Roelandts is a fantastic result. It was a dangerous, windy, rainy race so it’s always going to be a bit unpredictable. The plan was to be all around Greg Van Avermaet and to try and attack on Poggio, like what Nibali did. I was giving the guys the time gaps and on the top of the Poggio, we said if it didn’t come back then we would sprint for Jürgen. At the end of the day, with the calibre of sprinters there, we are happy with fifth place.”





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