News: Lotto Soudal Ready for Milan SanRemo

Degenkolb, Ewan, Gilbert and Wellens headline strong Milan-Sanremo squad for Lotto Soudal racing the 112th edition of ‘La Classicissima’, Milan Sanremo

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News: Lotto Soudal Ready for Milan SanRemo

Lotto Soudal will be lining up at the start of the 112th edition of Milan-Sanremo with four leaders: Caleb Ewan, John Degenkolb, Philippe Gilbert and Tim Wellens. The team targets a strong performance at cycling’s first Monument of the season.

The course has undergone a few little changes. Only the ascent of the Passo del Turchino has been replaced by the Colle del Giovo. Traditionally, the Capo Mele, Capo Cervo and Capo Berta will make up the prelude of a nerve-wracking finale on the famous Cipressa and Poggio before the race reaches its climax on the iconic Via Roma.

Philippe Gilbert will be at the start for the 17th time in his career and still is ambitious of trying to win his fifth Monument, but the 38-year-old Belgian is well aware it won’t be easy.

Philippe Gilbert: “Of course, I will get the most out of the race, like I do every year. I still have the ambition to win Milan-Sanremo, but it won’t be easy at all. Of course, Alaphilippe, Van der Poel and Van Aert are the main favourites for Saturday. But Milan-Sanremo is the only Monument where many different types of riders have a chance to win and this year will be no different. For the sprinters, it is the only chance to win a Monument. That explains why it’s always so close at the end between a breakaway and the bunch. This is what makes Milan-Sanremo a truly unique race.”

“Unfortunately, I can’t look into the future but I expect fast racing up the Cipressa and we might see some attacks there. There should be a tailwind in the final, which will have a big impact on the race, but it always does, in every race. I am part of a very strong team and I can only see that as an advantage. In modern cycling, the best way to win a race seems to be with a strong team. But in the end, the legs will do the talking.”

John Degenkolb knows how it feels to win Milan-Sanremo as the German sprinted to victory at ‘La Classicissima’ in 2015. This year, Degenkolb hopes to make use of that experience to help the team and to seize chances for himself. “Milan-Sanremo generally is the first big objective for the Classics riders”, states John Degenkolb. “The cliché says it’s the easiest one to ride, but the hardest race to win because it’s so unpredictable and of course also the longest race of the season. Both for me and the team, it’s a big goal and I hope we can make it a nice day out. Hopefully, I’ll have good legs and I can bring added value to the team and take the opportunities if they present themselves.”

For the fifth time in his career, Caleb Ewan will be at the start of Milan-Sanremo. The Australian already came close to the victory in 2018, when he finished second after Vincenzo Nibali, stayed clear ahead of the charging peloton after his attack on the Poggio.

“From Milan to the coast, it’s is a pretty straightforward race”, starts Caleb Ewan. “Once we get to the coast, the speed and tension goes up as we climb the multiple ‘Capi’. The crucial point in the race starts at the Cipressa, followed by the Poggio. These are also the two most difficult parts of the race for me. Generally, I struggle to get over these hills with the front group, but hopefully this year will be different. Having such a strong team at the start will definitely be a major advantage as we have multiple cards to play with. Contrary to two years ago – when I was the sole leader of the team – we now have different options, which can only be to our advantage. Tim and Philippe can play a crucial role on the climbs and John and I will be hoping for a sprint.”

After several years of absence, Tim Wellens will again be present this year. The 29-year-old Lotto Soudal rider had a strong start to the season and looks forward to racing Milan-Sanremo as one of the team’s leaders. Tim Wellens: “Milan-Sanremo is a long but beautiful race. It’s the first Monument of the year, so I really look forward to it. Having multiple cards to play with in the race will only benefit us. If one of us has a bad day, we still have some options left. With Caleb, we have one of the world’s fastest sprinters if it comes to a group sprint. Should Caleb be struggling on the climbs, we still have John as our second fast guy. Philippe Gilbert and I have the task to not get surprised on the climbs and follow interesting moves in the final.”

“I’ll definitely try to be up there on the Poggio and if a have a really good day, I should be able to get over it with the best riders. If not, we have to adapt to the situation and get our sprinters into place.”

Line-up Lotto Soudal: Jasper De Buyst, John Degenkolb, Caleb Ewan, Frederik Frison, Philippe Gilbert, Roger Kluge and Tim Wellens.


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