Jan Bakelants was among the commentators for Milan-Sanremo on VTM, and he provided an intricate analysis - before the race took place - and prediction of how the Italian race might transpire for different teams and cyclists.
UAE Team Emirates was his top pick as usual, given Tadej Pogacar's impressive performances this season. His second choice was Jumbo Visma, with Wout van Aert taking on the challenge of competing against the Slovenian rider. "Everyone talks about the strength of Jumbo-Visma, but if things go really fast, Wout will have few teammates with him at the foot of the Poggio,” he told DPG Media.
"I knew I wanted to attack at the end of the Poggio" - Mathieu van der Poel's plan works to perfection at Milano-Sanremo
Mathieu van der Poel is a significant factor to consider when discussing van Aert. “I believe in Mathieu. He has played hide and seek, just like before the Cyclocross World Championships. How he put on the sprints for Philipsen, then you're fine. Although he had to release almost embarrassingly early in the two hill stages.”
The Belgian thinks that van der Poel would definitely see advantages if he were to join top-notch teams like INEOS Grenadiers or Soudal Quick-Step. “I do have questions about certain companies. Mathieu can get even more out of his career in a team like INEOS Grenadiers or Soudal Quick-Step, where he is one of the many top rider and not the sun king like his current team. He needs a team where he can get under his bones if he doesn't train what he has to,” concluded Bakelants.
However after a difficult and modest start to the season Alpecin-Deceuninck have gotten themselves back on track and van der Poel soared to victory at Milano-Sanremo. Although the Belgian team was not on a luxury display, they've had several riders on form who managed to finish high on the day.