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Mark Cavendish will try for a second Milano-Sanremo victory later this month after poor road conditions forced organizers to revert to a sprinter-friendly route for the season’s first major classic. The Omega Pharma-Quick Step sprinter will try to repeat his 2009 Sanremo victory and will also contest Gent-Wevelgem, Driedaagse van De Panne (Three Days of De Panne), and Scheldeprijs.
“Uncertainty about the route of the Sanremo left Mark’s program open until just a few days ago,” Omega Pharma sport and development manager Rolf Aldag said in a press release. “Therefore, after Strade Bianche and Tirreno-Adriatico races, Mark will be in the starting lineup for the Milano-Sanremo. Without the Pompeiana, the route is back to being suitable to the skills of athletes like Mark. After Sanremo, Mark will participate in Gent-Wevelgem. The Flemish classic also underwent a slight variation to the route that could favor the arrival in the final sprint.”
Cavendish conceded late last year that he may never win Sanremo again after RCS Sport added the steep Pompeiana climb to the finale of “La Classicissima.” With the planned removal of the Le Mànie climb from the route, and the last-minute loss of the new climb after mudslides destroyed portions of the road earlier this year, Milano-Sanremo will suit the sprinters more than it has in half a decade. Oscar Freire was the last rider to win on the traditional course, which includes the late ramps of the Cipressa and Poggio before the finish in Sanremo.
“I’m very happy to be riding in Milano-Sanremo, on the same route where I watched my heroes race and win when I was a kid,” said Cavendish. “In fact, the edition I won in 2009 featured the climb on Le Mànie. It will be fun and stimulating to ride on this route, which is making this race the only classics monument for the sprinters. I’m also very happy to race in Belgium. I’ve never won Gent-Wevelgem. The route for this race has gone back to how it used to be, too. Driedaagse van De Panne and Scheldeprijs will complete my ‘Flemish’ schedule, during which I can also count on a squad that’s as strong on this type of route as Omega Pharma-Quick Step.”
Milano-Sanremo takes place March 23.