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"I feel like I have two chances to win: either in a sprint from a group or by following an attack on the Poggio. It's my third attempt here and I have learned that the Cipressa and Poggio are key to understand if you can win or not...

Photo: Sirotti








16.03.2013 @ 10:53 Posted by Jesper Johannesen

Peter Sagan (Cannondale) enters this year's edition of Milan-Sanremo as the most overwhelming favourite the race has seen for years. The young Slovak is unfazed by the expectations and looks to use his versatility to figure in any kind of final to the race.


Peter Sagan has done little to hide his amazing conditions this year. After a slow start to the year in San Luis, he was already in blistering form in Oman where he clocked up two stage wins before a bronchitis forced him out of the race. He returned to Europe to clock up a victory in the GP Citta di Camaiore, and his superiority was the main reason for the 1-2 victory of Cannondale in Strade Bianche.


In his final preparation race to Milan-Sanremo, the Tirreno-Adriatico, he used his two stage wins to showcase each of the two attributes which are fundamental to success this Sunday on Longomare Italo Calvino in Sanremo. He won the third stage in a sprint ahead of the likes of Mark Cavendish and Andre Greipel, and he delivered a stunning performance by using his climbing and descending skills to match the world's best climbers on the steep ascents of the epic penultimate stage.


It is no wonder that Sagan enters La Primavera as the overwhelming favourite. However, the young Slovakian has never been stressed by outside pressure, and he was his usual calm self in yesterday's pre-race press conference.


"Every year I expect to grow," he said. "For this, we'll look to have a good showing. I don't feel pressured to be the number one favorite. I feel good, I have a competitive team, so I can't ask for more to face this race calmly. It's said that they will race against me, but I don't think that there are riders ready to lose instead of trying to win. I know that tactics count a lot in a race like Sanremo, but I don't want to think too much about them. There are too many variables. You think of one type of race, but the reality turns out to be the opposite."


Many riders have pointed to the expected bad weather conditions as an important factor in this year's race. Sagan has never had any problems in the rain, and treacherous descents even turn out to be an advantage for the formidable descender.


"After a good start of the season, my expectations are high," he told. "I want to race a good race, at the front. We have a good team to aim at a good result. The forecast could make it an even tougher race, but that will be the case for everyone. The biggest risk is that there will be over two hundred riders, and it's tough to move in such a big group."


The versatility he displayed in Tirreno-Adriatico makes Sagan one of the rare few capable of winning the race from both of the most common Sanremo scenario - a fact he does not hesitate to point out.


"I feel like I have two chances to win: either in a sprint from a group or by following an attack on the Poggio," he said. "It's my third attempt here, and I have learned that the Cipressa and Poggio are key to understand if you can win or not. I'll see for myself and not think too much about what the others can do, and I'll count on my teammates. They can help make the difference."


Moser uncertain ahead of debut race

Sagan's most trusted domestique will be another young talent, Moreno Moser. The nephew of namesake Francesco gave another display of masterful team tactics at the Strade Bianche where he benefitted from their rivals' fear of Sagan to escape a select group of favourites to become the first Italian winner of that new Italian classic.


Another Moser attack on the Cipressa is certainly one possible tool in the Cannondale tactics, but the winner of last year's Tour of Poland makes his debut and he is uncertain how to handle the year's longest race.


"I am at my first Milan-San Remo," Moser explained. "I've never raced this many kilometers. That's an important variable and I'm not sure what to expect. What's best is if I'm able to stay in the front and hold on until after the Poggio and help Peter. He'll count on team tactics, and my biggest satisfaction on Sunday would be to see Peter win."


Viviani puts his services behind Sagan

The team's other main sprinter, Elia Viviani, used the Paris-Nice to make his strong form visible to the world of cycling. Two podium places in the first two sprint stages and a stint in the leader's jersey made his participation in the French race a huge success.


He makes his second appearance in Sanremo tomorrow, and even if he harbours future ambitions in the biggest Italian one-day race, he is ready to put his services completely behind his Slovakian teammate.


"I arrive after with a different preparation than last year," Viviani explained. "A few less results, but races that left me able to achieve a decent form. Peter and Moreno have given a calmness to the team, and what counts for me is to be in the front and be useful in the finale."


Amadio: We will take our responsibility

Team manager Roberto Amadio knows that their favourite status forces the squad to carry plenty of responsibility. With Sagan's climbing strength, the team will certainly try to make the race hard all the way from the climb of Le Manie to tire out the sprinter's legs.


Amadio's sees some potential allies in this strategy and points to the BMC team of Thor Hushovd and Philippe Gilbert and - surprisingly - Omega Pharma-Quick Step of star sprinter Mark Cavendish to lend the green-clad team a hand.


"We have three strong guys with clear goals," he said. "Peter will be our leader and comes here with a great condition. Many are making us favorites, but I think that Cannondale Pro Cycling isn't the only team that is hungry to win this race. We're ready to take our responsibility, knowing that we can't control all three hundred kilometers. I also look to the other teams like Omega Pharma and BMC first and foremost. There are lots of winners ready to go, from Hushovd and Gilbert, from Cavendish to Boonen, and then Cancellara, among others. Sunday we'll give a great show to the sport of cycling."


You can follow Sagan's attempt to win his first monument live on on Sunday starting at 14.30. Until then you can prepare for the race by studying our preview.




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