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The British team came into the first monument of 2022 with several cards to play, but as the race tore along the coast and towards the final set of climbs their race began to unravel.
Tom Pidcock, who missed Strade Bianche due to illness, was surprisingly dropped on the Capo Berta with 37km to go due to stomach problems. He did not finish the race after finishing 15th last year in his San Remo debut.
“Today Milan-San Remo was a special race. Tom didn’t feel well today,” sports director Matteo Tosatto said at the finish in San Remo. “After the Turchino he had bad feelings in his stomach and on the radio he told us immediately that he was having problems and that he was having a very bad day.”
Among the rest of the team, Luke Rowe hit the front before the Cipressa with former winner Kwiatkowski on his wheel, but the climb was too much for Elia Viviani, who was distanced along with a number of sprinters still in the race.
Filippo Ganna survived the Cipressa despite a relentless pace from Tadej Pogačar’s UAE Team Emirates squad, but the UCI Hour Record holder was unable to follow the vicious accelerations that followed on the all-important Poggio.
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That left Ineos with just Kwiatkowski in contention.
The Pole was able to respond to a series of attacks from Pogačar on the climb and he was caught up in a crash on the twisting descent towards the finish and was unable to return to the front of the race by the time Matej Mohorič soloed towards the win with around 4.4km to go.
According to Tosatto, both Viviani and Ganna came into the race under-cooked after recent illnesses.
“Both Filippo and Elia Viviani left Tirreno-Adriatico a little bit sick. They didn’t train for two or three days. Today Filippo survived on the Cipressa but the first group was so fast and it was impossible to stay with the front group,” he said.
“Kwiatkowski did a great performance though considering he wasn’t in Tirreno or Paris-Nice,” he continued. “He came here after just doing the UAE Tour. He was disappointed because a rider from AG2R crashed in front of him and that took him out of the front of the race. In the end he was happy with the performance but not the result. He can take a lot of morale for the next classics. Next he goes to Catalunya and then he’ll be ready for the classics.”
Ineos Grenadiers shone at “opening weekend” in Belgium with a number of impressive performances from their young classics team. Illness has hampered them in recent weeks, but Tosatto preferred to look ahead.
“At the end of the day it wasn’t a good day for us, but we’ll keep calm, look ahead and wait for the next race,” he concluded.