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The frantic final of Saturday’s marathon monument served more storylines than a full season of the Sopranos.
Rather than even try to cover them all, here are just a few of the best stories, scraps, and stats that fell out of La Primavera:
First up, here are some stats
- Van der Poel became the first Dutchman to win Milan-San Remo since Hennie Kuiper in 1985.
- Van der Poel’s 15-second winning margin is the largest since Giorgio Furlan in 1994.
- Saturday’s race into San Remo clocked the second-fastest average MSR speed on record. The 45.773kph pace slots in just below the 1990 edition and its rip-roarer 45.806kph average.
- Victory on Via Roma sees Van der Poel extend his monument streak. The crushingly consistent Dutch ace has finished top-10 in each of his last 10 monument starts, and the time before that, he managed “only”13th. Not bad for a cyclocrosser.
MvdP monument palmarès:
2023 Milan-San Remo: 1st
2022 Paris-Roubaix: 9th
2022 Tour of Flanders: 1st
2022 Milan-San Remo: 3rd
2021 Paris-Roubaix: 3rd
2021 Tour of Flanders: 2nd
2021 Milan-San Remo: 5th
2020 Tour of Flanders: 1st
2020 Liège-Bastogne-Liège: 6th
2020 Il Lombardia: 10th
2020 Milan-San Remo: 13th
2019 Tour of Flanders: 4th
Speaking of stats, new Poggio records were set
A roaring tailwind through the final Saturday saw Strava KoMs crumble and new fastest times set. No doubt the most notable of those was the record for the fastest climb of the Poggio.
La Gazzetta dello Sport reports Van der Poel galloped over the 3.7km mound in 5:38 to claim the fastest ascent on record, beating a mark that stood since 1994.
Per La Gazzetta, Van der Poel roared up the Poggio at an average speed of 39.408kph with an estimated average power of 564 watts. That’s some 7.5 watts/kg for the strapping classics supremo.
The Pogačar-Ganna-Van Aert chase group also topped the historic 29-year-old mark that Giorgio Furlan set in 1994.
And because nothing truly happened unless it’s on Strava, Pogačar and Van Aert’s pursuit of the flying Dutchman crushed the KoM for the “Poggio di San Remo” segment, which looks likely to be a few strokes shorter than the stretch monitored by La Gazzetta.
Regular Strava aficionado Van der Poel is yet to upload his file to the platform.
Ganna joins ‘the galacticos’ for the San Remo attack of dreams
The best stage racer in the world, the two best classics riders in the world, and the best time trialist in the world … a quartet of dreams?
Well, dreams became reality Saturday when Pogačar, Van Aert, Van der Poel, and Ganna came together to package all the hype of the Poggio into a spine-tingling final.
Sure, it’s possible to pick at the superlatives, but that awesome foursome made for Via Roma perfection Saturday.
Van Aert, Van der Poel, and Pogačar carry headlines whenever they turn a crank, and each brought their own unique narrative to the Saturday’s start line. And Ganna – the new hope of Italian road cycling in the wake of Vincenzo Nibali’s retirement – was the perfect addition to the Poggio’s three galacticos.
“I collect a lot of second places, but this is a special one,” Ganna said at the finish. “I have to thank my team today, they supported me all day. Yesterday I heard that I would be one of the leaders today, and I felt that way all day today.”
Ganna impressed all through early season stage racing this year, and Ineos Grenadiers’ beefcake again proved Saturday he’s not just about racing against the clock.
“Top Ganna” now turns to the harshest pavé of the north as he looks for a peak at Paris-Roubaix.
Milan-San Remo might not be the only time you see Ganna in the same frame as Van Aert and Van der Poel this spring.
Neilson Powless bangs hard on the door of something huge
Neilson Powless is hammering so hard on the door of something huge his hand hurts. The U.S. megatalent finished seventh Saturday to score his best monument finish and continue his stunner start to 2023.
Powless already harvested a one-day win, GC victory, and WorldTour stage-race top-10 this season, and looks set to impress through a full block of cobblestone and Ardennes classics in the coming months.
He’s got the wind at his sails and confidence coursing into his cleats.
Judging by what Powless did on the cobblestone stage of last year’s Tour de France, a prestigious classics victory could be right around the corner.
Wout van Aert can’t catch a lucky break
Is Van Aert pro cycling’s best one-day racer with the relative “worst” palmarès?
Van Aert finished third on the podium Saturday to add another line to a record book that’s criminally undercooked in marquee one-days.
He finished top-3 but didn’t get the “W” in five of his last nine monument starts, and went home sad with silver in three of his last five world championships appearances.
The Belgian baller has been undone by mechanicals, misaligned tactics and photo-finish sprints before. This time however, someone else was simply better.
“I have to be satisfied. I have no regrets about how the race went,” Van Aert said at the finish. “Mathieu showed everyone he was super strong and he did the right move at the right time, so congrats to him.”
Van Aert’s time will no doubt come and he’ll land a monument victory or rainbow jersey that tops his 2020 San Remo title.
Until then, he’ll have to make do with a trophy collection that “only” boasts almost every other one-day race on the calendar. Tough times.
And last but certainly not least, pro cycling’s greatest meme is born
If you’re on Twitter, you no doubt have seen this image dozens of times in the last 24 hours.
But it’s so good, we thought we’d share it again.
Captions please pic.twitter.com/yqnhoLe3zL
— the Inner Ring (@inrng) March 18, 2023
Milano-Sanremo podium 🤩🛋️
— Pro Cycling Trumps (@procycletrumps) March 18, 2023
— Robbie McEwen AM (@mcewenrobbie) March 19, 2023