Milan-San Remo: Matej Mohorič goes solo to stunning monument victory
Slovenian breakaway ace surprises favorites with solo dash off the bottom of the Poggio and down the Via Roma.
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Matej Mohorič (Bahrain-Victorious) made a daring descent off the Poggio and held off an all-star chase group to win Milan-San Remo.
Mohorič made a dazzling descent through the bottom of the race’s crucial Poggio climb, distancing an all-attacking lead group including top favorites Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma) and Tadej Pogačar (UAE Emirates).
The Bahrain-Victorious ace hit the start of the Via Roma with just two seconds’ advantage, survived a scare with a dropped chain, and made a thrilling TT to the line for the huge victory that had long seemed just within his reach.
Anthony Turgis (TotalEnergies) finished second, just a few meters behind Mohorič. Mathieu van der Poel (Alpecin-Fenix) won the sprint for third in a huge performance after a five-month road-racing layoff.
Pogačar lit up the day’s king-making Poggio climb with a handful of attacks, but none stuck as van Aert and van der Poel marked out each acceleration. Pogačar and van Aert both finished in the main chase group for fifth and eighth respectively.
It was Mohorič’s trademark descending skills that made the difference on the Poggio descent, and the Slovenian had even taken a specially modified bike to boost his chances.
“I was thinking about this race the whole winter,” he said. “The team came up with the idea of using a dropper post because this race suits me very well and there’s a decent at the end. I knew that if I could train properly over the winter then I could be in a good enough condition not to be dropped on the Poggio.
“Then I had a chance of doing my best descent, risking a little bit but being able to hang on for the win. The team set up a bike for me and had this plan for a long time. At first I didn’t think that it would make a huge difference on the descents but then I tried it in training and the first time I tried it I was amazed.”
Mohorič’s palmarès-topping ride Saturday was made all the more staggering given he failed to finish Strade Bianche at the turn of the month after being caught up in a huge crash. He was initially only slated for co-captaincy at Bahrain Victorious until Italian puncheur Sonny Colbrelli was ruled out with illness earlier in the week.
“I did a lot of physio, every day and every night and I did not stop believing,” Mohorič said of his comeback. “I did some basic training to keep the condition as good as possible. Today I’m here. It was good enough to hang on with the best on the Poggio and I just went all in. I can’t believe it, I’m without words.”
L’ultimo km della Classica Monumento più imprevedibile. Via Roma moltiplica le energie di chi fugge dal gruppo che insegue…
The last km of the most unexpected Classica Monumento. Via Roma multiplies the energy of those who break away from the chasing group…#MilanoSanremo pic.twitter.com/V8qfMPWzaJ
— Milano Sanremo (@Milano_Sanremo) March 19, 2022
Jumbo-Visma sets tone early
A group of eight had spun away at kilometer zero of the day’s marathon monument and stayed out front some time.
Jumbo-Visma workhorse Jos van Emden did a huge share of pulling in the bunch through the first 200km to keep the escape at around six to seven minutes. Trek-Segafredo, EF Education-EasyPost and Intermarché-Wanty began chipping in through the back-half of the race, but Jumbo-Visma was always present.
The gap to the break inevitably started to tumble at 70km when thoughts turned toward the three Capi and Cipressa and a strong tailwind down the Ligurian coast blew the bunch to top-speed.
UAE Emirates takes control through final
The race started to heat up on the second and third of the Capi in the final 45km.
The break began to break down, and Tom Pidock (Ineos Grenadiers) became the first big name to lose the wheels on the in his return from illness. Peter Sagan (TotalEnergies) was next in trouble, suffering an untimely mechanical in the roads toward the Cipressa before desperately trying to chase back,
All the pre-race hype had been on a Pogačar attack over the Cipressa, but it was Jumbo-Visma that took control first on the crucial penultimate climb. UAE Emirates was next in setting a searing speed, but Pogačar didn’t move and instead marked out van Aert.
Fast finishers Elia Viviani (Ineos Grenadiers), Alexander Kristoff (Intermarché) and Fabio Jakobsen (Quick-Step-Alpha Vinyl) succumbed to the crushing Cipressa pace as the bunch reduced to just three-dozen.
UAE-Emirates kept hammering on the roads into the Poggio as Pogačar sat poised in third-wheel.
Pogačar pummels on the Poggio
The last two breakaway riders Alessandro Tonelli (Bardiani-CSF-Faizanè) and Samuele Rivi (Eolo-Kometa) were finally reeled in at the start of the 3.7km Poggio climb and the race duly exploded.
Diego Ulissi drilled the pace for Pogačar, and the Slovenian finally launched at 8km to go. Van Aert followed first, and van der Poel winched his way back shortly afterward. The lead bunch came back together for just a second before Pogačar made a huge second move. Again, van Aert and van der Poel were among the first to follow and the race again reformed.
POGGIO! 🤯#MilanoSanremo pic.twitter.com/mcHJdRuiLb
— Milano Sanremo (@Milano_Sanremo) March 19, 2022
Pogačar and the Roglič briefly accelerated soon after, but van der Poel and van Aert weren’t to be shaken.
Soren Kragh Andersen (DSM) surprised the five-star favorites toward the top of the Poggio, dragging van Aert, van der Poel, and Pogačar with him. Mohorič clawed his way back over he summit and kicked away on the descent at 4.5km to go.
Mohorič railed the decsent and landed at the bottom of the Poggio with just seconds over the fractured chase groups.
The Slovenian looked odds-on for the win as he TT’d down the Via Roma, but hearts were in mouths when he briefly lost his chain inside the final kilometer. He managed to pedal the chain back into gear and held strong as Turgis led the chasers.
Morič held on for the win, with Turgis first of the chasers, head in hands at his near-miss. Van der Poel sprinted from the group to take the bottom step of the podium.
Results will be available once stage has completed.