As Mathieu van der Poel raced down the Via Roma to secure his first Milan-San Remo victory, it brought back visions of his grandfather Raymond Poulidor achieving the same accolade back in 1961. After an emotional Tour de France 2 years ago, where Van der Poel also followed in the footsteps of his grandfather, it’s another major achievement ticked off by the Dutch star.
As with all Milan-San Remo editions of the modern age, the racing didn’t get hot until the climb of the Cipressa but it was the final climb of the Poggio that saw the race decided. UAE Team Emirates’ Tim Wellen pushed a big gear to keep the pace as high as possible for his leader Tadej Pogacar. On his wheel were Wout van Aert, Mathieu van der Poel and the powerful Filippo Ganna. Once Matteo Trentin just glass-pedalled and swung to the side, the winning gap to the front quartet was sealed.
Reluctant to burn matches to close the gap Trentin had deliberately left, riders began to look at each other. With Wellens’ work now done, that just left 4 riders at the front of the race with an ever-increasing gap. As Pogacar led them up the final metres of the Poggio, Van der Poel sensed his moment as Van Aert began to just waver slightly. The acceleration was huge, with a big gap created instantly and no rider able to respond. Reaching the top corner of the Poggio alone with a handful of seconds Van der Poel then had to face the descent.
With Pogacar still doing the leading, the gap was maintained for a long time whilst behind Ganna just seemed to struggle slightly on the early corners before finding his rhythm. It didn’t really as raggedly aggressive a descent as Mohoric’s winning one last season but by the base, Van der Poel had just eeked out a couple more metres.
Once on the Via Roma, it was clear that Van der Poel had enough left in the tank to keep his chasers at bay and that the trio were going to be racing for 2nd place. After Mathieu had crossed the line, Ganna launched a big seated sprint to claim the 2nd spot ahead of Tadej Pogacar. It’s the 3rd monument victory of Van der Poel’s career, after wins at the Tour of Flanders in 2020 and 2022.
“It’s one that I think every rider wants to have one day. A special win in a special race. It’s so difficult to win here.”Mathieu van der Poel
“I had one goal today and that was to attack after Tim’s pull. Tim did a really perfect job today, I have to thank him a lot for setting up this attack in the end. I was not strong enough to go solo with four guys, and then Van der Poel attacked, I couldn’t follow. He was too strong. Then I was dead to the finish.”Tadej Pogacar
2023 Milan-San Remo result
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