I never know how to truly feel about this race.
Once the peloton head to the coast and start to chase down the inevitable breakaway hopefuls it feels like the season has started in earnest.
This year there was a bit more excitement with the break holding that vital 1 minute per 10km left to race advantage until they went into the climbs at the back end of the race.
There were negatives. I felt a sort of inevitability about Tadej Pogacar just riding away from everyone to win either on the Cipressa or the Poggio and that made me sad.
People who win too often or are too dominant are now subjected to a scrutiny that exists in no other sport. The stars of tennis don’t have to continually justify their sporting cleanliness in the same way as cyclists.
I want to believe in Tadej. But the history of the sport means there is always an asterix. That’s just how it is and I hate those juiced up 1990’s cheat for that.
As it happened the rest of the race ganged up on Pogacar to ensure that he didn’t win. The speed of the race over the Cipressa, a pace set by both UAE and Jumbo, meant that the break was absorbed but that no-one could sneak away.
UAE kept this speed up on the flat coastal road between the final two climbs. In a way it telegraphed their team leaders motive and to no-ones surprise Pogacar jumped before half distance on the climb.
He was actively marked by Wout van Aert who later admitted that had stunted his ability to deliver maximum power at the finish. Mathieu Van der Poel on his first racing day of the season also committed much to stopping Pog from winning.
As they reached the top of the climb it was all fairly close with a large number of riders, including former winner and sprinter Arnaud Demare in contention.
The race was won on the descent with Matej Mohoric shrugging off that horrific crash he has last year in the Giro in Italy, by riding away on the tight turns using every bit of road and some driveway to get clear.
He was using an MTB seat post to get more aero but the way he rode I think he would have been too good for the rest on a chopper not a dropper.
He even survived dropping his chain in the last KM to out last the fast closing Anthony Turgis who will be desperate for a classic win soon to avoid becoming the next big thing not to win a big race.
Was this a brilliant race? Not really but then the drama in Milan San-Remo is always condensed into the last 10 minutes, not the proceeding 6 hours. However, we had a worthy winner and a positive performance to start the monument season, and I am happy with that.
|1||MOHORIČ Matej||Bahrain – Victorious||500||275||6:27:49|
|3||VAN DER POEL Mathieu||Alpecin-Fenix||325||150||,,|
|4||MATTHEWS Michael||Team BikeExchange – Jayco||275||120||,,|
|5||POGAČAR Tadej||UAE Team Emirates||225||100||,,|
|6||PEDERSEN Mads||Trek – Segafredo||175||90||,,|
|7||KRAGH ANDERSEN Søren||Team DSM||150||80||,,|
|8||VAN AERT Wout||Jumbo-Visma||125||70||,,|
|9||TRATNIK Jan||Bahrain – Victorious||100||60||0:05|
|10||DÉMARE Arnaud||Groupama – FDJ||85||50||0:11|