"We don't have the absolute top favourite, as we did in the past with Wout van Aert" - Team Visma | Lease a Bike having to adapt ahead of Milano-Sanremo

Whilst Team Visma | Lease a Bike enter nearly every favourite as arguably the favourite for victory, at the upcoming Milano-Sanremo that won't necessarily be the case.

With Visma's main Classics threat, Wout van Aert absent, the likes of Tadej Pogacar, Mathieu van der Poel, Tom Pidcock and Mads Pedersen are expected to contest for the victory in Italy. "We go to the race with a lot of young boys. Most of them are going to make their debut," Team Visma | Lease a Bike sports director, Arthur Van Dongen tells the Kop over Kop podcast. "They are extremely keen to create something beautiful."

Having to adapt, Team Visma | Lease a Bike will adopt a different strategy in order to attempt to compete. "We indeed do not have one clear leader, but we do have two clear leaders," Van Dongen explains, those being Olav Kooij and Christophe Laporte. "We work with them to achieve the highest possible results. But we don't have the absolute top favourite, as we did in the past with Wout van Aert."

"With Van der Poel and Pogacar, the biggest contender is not in our team. The battle plan will be to protect Christophe and Olav as best as possible all day and then drop them off in a well-positioned position at the foot of the Cipressa. That's where it normally starts, so we have to be well in front," Van Dongen continues. "

So, is Van Dongen confident Kooij or Laporte can spring a surprise and take the win? "It is not a very difficult race along the way compared to other Monuments, but of course it is the distance that will play a major role. I am convinced that Olav will certainly be able to do it in the future," he analyses.

"Christophe is a lot older and a lot more mature than Olav. He will certainly be able to handle the climbing in Milano-Sanremo," Van Dongen concludes. "Whether he can join in if the two top favourites leave remains to be seen. But he'll definitely be close. In a race like Milano-Sanremo it is very difficult to make it difficult for men like Van der Poel or Pogacar, since everything is bundled together in the last 25 kilometers. So the course is not really suitable for this."

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