Milan-Sanremo, the Belgian flag waves at the finish line: masterpiece by Jasper Philipsen


By John

Sparks on the Poggio, an infernal pace and a tight sprint that once again speaks Belgian. The masterpiece on Via Roma this time was the one painted by Jasper Philipsen, in a restricted sprint the Alpecin-Deceuninck sprinter beat Michael Matthews and Tadej Pogacar: the Slovenian didn't succeed in the coup on the Poggio, with a couple of sprints the leader of the UAE Emirates made the difference in the last climb of the day, bringing only a small group to the final kilometres. However, this time the plan failed, with no encore after the victory in the Strade Bianche: the Belgian took care of raising his arms (and his bike) at the finish line after a dream 2023 with four stage victories at the Tour de France. He lacked the sharpness in a classic, this time the disappointment of second place in last year's Paris-Roubaix was swept away by that little piece of wheel put in front of his opponents. Not much, or rather very little, but it was enough to get on the top step of the podium.
The plot of the 115th edition of the first Monument Classic of the season was quite linear, without too many shocks: ten men attempted to escape, namely Davide Baldaccini, Valerio Conti and Kyrylo Tsarenko (Team Corratec – Vini Fantini), Sergio Samitier (Movistar Team ), Romain Combaud (Team dsm-firmenich PostNL), Davide Bais, Mirco Maestri and Andrea Pietrobon (Team Polti Kometa), Alessandro Tonelli and Samuele Zoccarato (VF Group – Bardiani CSF – Faizan√®). The attackers managed to gain a maximum advantage of 2'50″, until 70 kilometers from the finish line the teams started to force the pace: the comeback was almost a foregone conclusion, with the UAE moving first on the Cipressa, immediately after Pogacar he tried to accelerate on the Poggio, but the Slovenian's sprints didn't make the difference. Various counterattack actions in the final kilometres, first Mohoric and then Sobrero tried to shuffle the cards without, however, putting the remaining sprinters in crisis: in the sprint reduced, it was Philipsen who waited for the right moment, effectively exiting at the last possible moment.
Good performance by the Azzurri, fifth place for Alberto Bettiol while Filippo Ganna is still bitter, the Ineos time trialist broke away with four kilometers to go. “It's an incredible feeling to win the Milan-Sanremo. It makes me really proud and happy, especially after the work done by Mathieu van der Poel – declared the winner -. We went fast all day, but I felt very good. I believed in myself, but for me to win everything had to go perfectly. I wasn't used to sprinting after almost 300km and I felt the difference. I didn't expect Michael Matthews to feel so good, but I'm happy I managed to beat him.” And the final sprint closed the circle on one of the fastest races ever, with an average of 46.1 km/h, the record of the 1990 edition won by Gianni Bugno was beaten, which ended in 45.8 km/h h. The one-day racing events in March are coming to an end: the next Monument, the 121st Paris-Roubaix, is scheduled for 7 April.