220 kilometres to go
The kilometres are ticking by, and the gap for the nine riders ahead is remaining stable at roughly three minutes.
Along with former winners John Degenkolb and Julian Alaphilippe, Stuyven was one of a long list of late non-starters last year due to illness. But all three are back in the San Remo game in 2023. The Belgian had this to say at yesterday’s San Remo team presentation:
“I’m excited to be here again after missing out last year. I’m very happy with the feelings I’ve had for the past week, it’s the first Monument of the year, and something to be excited about. For me of course it’s a special race to come back to, I would have loved to have been here last year and it would maybe have been more special then if I could have raced it, but it’s good to be back anyway. The key thing in such a long race is not to lose your focus and be ready to switch on at any moment. I’m certainly not expecting an easy race.”
Stuyven was one of the few favourites that deliberately missed out on both Tirreno and Paris-Nice in his build-up this year, and he said his logic behind that was “it’s better preparation for me, because I like the idea of more structured and more controlled build-up. I did some hard training.”
And a little bit of tech info here from Cyclingnews‘ man on the ground, Steve Farrand: Filippo Ganna (Ineos Grenadiers) is wearing a skinsuit, while Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma) and Jasper Stuyven (Trek-Segafredo) are both using a single chainring today.
As the race hits the town of Voghera, a reminder of our nine men ahead: Alessandro Tonelli and Samuele Zoccarato (Green Project-Bardiani-CSF-Faizané); Alexandre Balmer and Jan Maas (Jayco AIUIa); Mirco Maestri and Samuele Rivi (Eolo Kometa); Alois Charrin (Tudor Pro Cycling); Negasi Haylu Abreha (Q36.5) and Aleksandr Riabushenko (Astana Qazaqstan).
And Tadej Pogačar was also talking to reporters this morning. He’s had nine wins this season and is on the hunt to make it into double figures today with the fourth Monument victory of his career. Interestingly, the UAE Team Emirates leader says he’s not the big favourite, but not everybody would agree with that: “It’s a hard race to control but everyone will expect us to control the break, so I think it’ll be hard for the team but we have good guys here. There are a long list of rivals to watch. Last year it was a tailwind too and we had a fast climb on the Cipressa and Poggio so this year I’m expecting the same. I don’t see myself as the number one favourite. The dream is to win solo, but even if it’s a sprint, it doesn’t matter: a win is a win.”
240 kilometres to go
The gap permitted for the nine leaders is, interestingly enough, staying at a very low (for San Remo) three minutes or so. Keeping the break on such a tight leash courtesy of Jumbo-Visma and Trek-Segafredo is maybe due to expectations of a fast race with that tailwind due to be kicking in on the Ligurian coast.
Tirreno-Adriatico double stage winner Jasper Philipsen (Deceuninck-Alpecin) is one main favourite today, of course, and he had this to say to Cyclingnews’ Steve Farrand and other reporters at the start today: “We have some guys that can sacrifice themselves in the climbs, and then a strong group of leaders that can go far in the race, see how we divide the roles. The legs will decide that. The Cipressa is the first good point when you can feel the legs and from then on they’re not going to get better.”
Official confirmation that all 175 riders due to start this morning has come though, although a reminder that one key name who was expected to be part of Milan-San Remo, Tom Pidcock (Ineos Grenadiers) is regrettably not present. You can read about why here.
And Daniel Ostanek has turned a keen eye on the men who matter in this year’s Primavera here: Milan-San Remo 2023 – 5 favourites, 5 outsiders
A fine series of insights by Cyclingnews’ Barry Ryan into one of the top favourites and his outlook on the day ahead in this feature – link here: Wout van Aert: I don’t think I have to prove anything
255 kilometres to go
The gap for our nine leaders has now steadied at just north of three minutes. Behind, Trek-Segafredo and Jumbo-Visma keep a watching brief in the main pack.
265 kilometres to go
And as Milan-San Remo reaches the city of Pavia the gap has now reached 3:20.
271 kilometres to go
And after a brief and rather bizarre counter-attack by riders from the main pack including Jos van Emden (Jumbo-Visma) and Tim Wellens (UAE Team Emirates) fizzles out almost before it’s started, the gap is ballooning for the nine riders ahead: 2:35.
273 kilometres to go
The nine riders ahead are Alessandro Tonelli and Samuele Zoccarato (Green Project-Bardiani-CSF-Faizané); Alexandre Balmer and Jan Maas (Jayco AIUIa); Mirco Maestri and Samuele Rivi (Eolo Kometa); Alois Charrin (Tudor Pro Cycling); Negasi Haylu Abreha (Q36.5) and Aleksandr Riabushenko (Astana Qazaqstan).
And seven more riders clip off the front to try and join Maestri and Tonelli ahead., and the pace in the bunch drops notably. After 16 kilometres of the 294 today now raced, we have the break of the day.
281 kilometres to go
The fight to get in the break is proving to be a very tough one. Mirco Maestri (Eolo-Kometa) and Alessandro Tonelli (Green Project-Bardiani-CSF-Faizané) are ahead but more riders want to get across…
Also present at the start of Milan-San Remo, but after its role in last year’s race, needs no introduction: Mohoric’s dropper post.
And here’s a first photo of today’s start at Abbiategrasso.
292 kilometres to go
The peloton is already lined out as the early break tries to go clear.
And racing has officially begun. Only 294 kilometres to go.
To be confirmed but it looks as if Tadej Pogačar has crashed in the neutralized zone, to judge by the green stains on his jersey, but he’s not looking at all injured.
They peloton has now reached kilometre 0 and have stopped briefly. A few fans take advantage of the unexpected halt to take a selfie.
The riders have left Abbiategrasso and have now headed out to the kilometre 0 sign.
There are no less than eight former winners in this year’s edition of Milan-San Remo: Matej Mohoric (Bahrain Victorious) – 2022; Jasper Stuyven (Trek-Segafredo) – 2021; Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma) – 2020; Julian Alaphilippe (Soudal-QuickStep) – 2019; Michal Kwiatkowski (Ineos Grenadiers) – 2017; Arnaud Démare (Groupama-FDJ) – 2016; John Degenkolb (DSM) – 2015 and Mark Cavendish (Astana Qazaqstan) – 2009.
The neutralized section of San Remo this year before the race proper gets underway is 7.8 kilometres long. Meaning the total distance covered is almost 302 kilometres.
Numerous public lining the streets of Abbiategrasso on what looks to be a dry, sunny day. Not much wind for now, though, there’s due to be a tailwind later on when the race approaches the coast.
And the riders have just started moving away from the départ fictif. The 2023 edition of Milan-San Remo has begun.
Peter Sagan (TotalEnergies) has also appeared at the sign-on podium of Milan-San Remo for one last time.
Wout van Aert has just been interviewed by our colleagues from Sporza.be. The Belgian favourite says that he’s at 98.5 percent of his top form and expects that he’ll get a lot of support from teammate Jan Tratnik.
The 175 riders are currently signing on.
Racing is set to start in roughly 30 minutes. A reminder that the race starting in the town of Abbiategrasso, about 25 kilometres further west of Milan. But after this unprecedented start, the remainder of the day’s course is very much the traditional Milan-San Remo route. The finish in the town of San Remo, just a stone’s throw away from Monaco and beyond that France, will be around 1700 local (CET) time.
Hello and welcome to our live coverage of the 2023 Milan-San Remo.