Tadej Pogacar perhaps starts Milano-Sanremo as favourite number one. At least in the eyes of many that is the case, and ahead of the first monument of the season the leader of UAE Team Emirates will be on the eyes of all his rivals when the race reaches the climbs.
"There are many, many favourites for Milan-San Remo, especially when the race has so many variants and anything can happen. I don't see myself as a true favourite but maybe I can surprise people," Pogacar says in a press conference ahead of the race. "Milan-San Remo is a tricky race and many outcomes can happen. We'll see how I feel and how the race goes. For sure we go for the win as a team, it doesn't matter who wins."
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Perhaps some bluff in his declarations, the Slovenian is seen as the most dangerous rider before the race. His form has been nothing but stupendous ever since he started the season, taking wins at the Clásica Jaén Paraiso Interior, and winning three stages and overall classification at both Vuelta a Andalucia and Paris-Nice. Because of this, even though the climb of the Poggio isn't a true mountain, he will be a very dangerous rider for the race.
"I'm afraid there's no perfect strategy for Milano-Sanremo. You need all seven riders in your team in good shape on the day, you have to ride together as a team, then be as fresh as possible for the final two climbs. You need to follow everybody that attacks on the Poggio because there's no real time to play tactics too much. You just need to be at the front all the time," he states.
"I think Tadej Pogacar is the only one who, when the going is very fast, can leave a gap to Poggio" - Tom Pidcock
Not only his climbing but he's also a good descender, and a good sprinter. Specially at the end of a 300-kilometer race when the legs of many will be close to their limit, the Slovenian could realistically ambition to beat even the fastest of sprinters. His aggressive stance and strong UAE Team Emirates suggest that they will most likely make a move on the early climbs to fatigue the fast men as much as possible before the leader does his thing from the Poggio onwards.
"Everyone wants to win solo because it's the most spectacular way but the adrenaline of sprinting after 300 km is also something else," Pogacar tells reporters. "For me, the goal is to be up front and fight for the win. I'm not thinking about who my big opponents are because there are so many. There are at least 20 riders who can win. You just need to be the best in the finale, it doesn't matter who is there."
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He recalls the comments of Vincenzo Nibali who said he will be a very dangerous rider. Nibali a former winner himself, Pogacar recollects that triumph and whether he could replicate it. "It was a brilliant win from Vincenzo but every race year is different at Milan-San Remo. We'll see how it goes. Maybe we'll have a solo winner, maybe it's me, maybe it's not. I just hope for good legs and to race smart," he concluded.