Not much to shout about in regards to 2018’s course for Milano – Sanremo, as it is an identical affair to last year’s, maintaining its reputation as one of the least tinkered with monuments in recent seasons. Though clocking in at 291km of racing (300km if you include the neutral zone), it will once again be a day which is unlikely to see any noteworthy action before the peloton as easily passed the 200km marker. The triumvirate of Capo Mele, Capo Cervo and Capo Berta will provide the day’s contenders with the first real indication as to whether their legs feel favourable or not with less than 60km remaining. After this comes the historic double of the Cipressa and the Poggio, the descent off the latter reaching level ground once again with only a little over 2km of racing to go. Though we may have to wait late in the day to see it, with so few opportunities to break the race apart, there should be another great curtain raising battle to this year’s monuments at Milano – Sanremo.
Peter Sagan enters most of the calendar’s one day races as the favourite, though does not possess the best record in the classics or monuments when considering how long he has been the sport’s greatest active rider. He came close to taking the win last year and has already stated that he will approach things differently this time in pursuit of the win, perhaps choosing to keep his powder dry and allow others to really push the tempo. Whatever the plan is, there is no doubt he shall be a major protagonist in the final decisive kilometres, where it is tough to imagine him losing if part of any group which turns the last corner onto the Via Roma.
Arnaud Démare won this race in surprising fashion a couple of years ago, but given his recent form, it would be far less of a shock to win it a second time than the first. He copes well with this type of arduous racing and is one of the few who can still turn in close to his best sprint after well over 250km of racing. The team at his disposal is extremely strong in support of the French national champion, focused almost entirely upon controlling the race and manoeuvering Démare into a race winning position. Despite having already won here, as a not particularly flashy rider, it is easy to overlook his talents; his rivals would be foolish to do the same.
Sonny Colbrelli has maintained a great record at Milano – Sanremo over the years and 2018 looks to be one of his best build ups to the big day of all. His recent victory upon Hatta Dam at the Dubai Tour proved his great strength when roads head skywards, which will no doubt be useful late in the day here. He would do best to allow other bigger names to close down the attacks when necessary, as previous years have seen the Italian use up too much energy before the finish line is in sight.
Michal Kwiatkowski is the defending champion and will feel relaxed heading into the day, with nothing to prove and no real pressure to repeat his win at a notoriously tough to predict monument. Regardless, he will be a likely face amongst those hoping to split the race apart and avoid a significant bunch sprint deciding the winner this year. This no doubt that means attacking hard over the Poggio, which given his success last year, will be interesting to see who reacts first to such a potentially dangerous move.
Elia Viviani is the purest sprinter with the most realistic chance of surviving the final quarter of racing with a potent turn of pace still at his disposal. Having enjoyed a brilliant start to life at Quick Step, the Italian ace is looking in sparkling form and more confident than ever in his abilities to reach the top of the sport. With a talented selection of teammates by his side, Viviani shall be well protected, allowing him to focus on exiting the final turn of the day in a race winning position.
Others to watch for are Alexander Kristoff, Caleb Ewan, Julian Alaphilppe, Matteo Trentin and Magnus Cort Nielsen.
1st Arnaud Démare 2nd Peter Sagan 3rd Sonny Colbrelli