Milan San Remo. Podium, please.

Milan San Remo round-up.

Mark Cavendish doesn’t want any pressure or expectations. He’d like to win it again but says he can’t win it but maybe he can. In other words, he’s sand-bagging in a confused sort of way. This eliminates Cavendish from the competition because if you’re sand-bagging, you do it with confidence and never go off-message.

Heinrich Haussler hasn’t done jack since finishing second in 2009 but he’s feeling cocky. He’s carrying the weight of boss man at his new IAM Cycling team. His strategy for victory to profit from the rain and cold temperatures — the same scenario that permitted Vincenzo Nibali to steal Tirreno-Adriatico from Chris Froome and the Sky machine. Haussler likes the “shit” weather and that’s the prediction this weekend in Milan and nobody will be out in a bathing suit in San Remo.

Last year’s MSR winner Simon Gerrans insists he’s not a favorites. He’s right and that’s the end of that story.

Fabian Cancellara says he has “cards to play” and that he has ideas of how to beat the favorite Peter Sagan (Cannondale). He also insists he won’t be towing anybody to the finish line this year — not Sagan, not Gerrans, not Mario Cipolini. He’s ready and highly motivated after just missing out last year. Will he me marked out of the race again? He will go out drinking with Andy Schleck the night before? Who really knows?

Tyler Farrar (Garmin-Sharp) is just happy to be in one piece with a fully functioning brain. He’s optimistic, he’s hopeful, he’s energized and plans to be in the front group. Do not expect him to go to the front of the front group although that would be really sweet and storybook.

Vincenzo Nibali. The winner of last weeks’ Tirreno-Adriatico is going to give MSR everything he’s got. He plans to bring along that sharp trident and stab any rider who gets in his way. Nibali has proven he’s a tough guy in the rain and a rider who’s not afraid to take risks. Who wouldn’t love to see the Shark win this one?

Peter Sagan plans to take a solo victory in San Remo, performing a bike wheelie across the line then doing a few improv routines to celebrate. The man-child is terrifying everyone in sight and nobody will let him out of their sight. That is, until he rides away. Pressure and stress don’t bother the kid — he’s like a Chinese diver in the Olympics — the gold medal is a foregone conclusion.

Thor Hushovd. Is he going to sneak up on everyone after laying low so far this season? He loves the crap weather, he’s a true hard-man and after last year’s misery from catching Cadel Evan’s african virus — he is hungry to win. He will be closely marked by Johan Van Summeren who will sit on his wheel all day just for fun.

Philippe Gilbert, riding in the rainbow jersey of World Champion, is keeping a low profile and we’re not talking about aerodynamics. Gilbert insists he is just one of “20 or 30 names.” His race focus may be distracted by counting how many Flemish and Walloon flags are flying in Italy. It’s tough to lower expectations when you have a rainbow on your jersey.

Matthew Goss is back for a another shot at Milan-San Remo and he’s another guy who could benefit from the hard rain and cold temperatures. He stated early in the season that he is “twice the guy I was last year.” That good because how else are you going to win MSR for a second time?

By now Filippo Pozzato has conveniently forgotten again that Dr. Ferrari is on the CONI banned list, so he’s no doubt back consulting with the evil one. We are all “grown men” right? We were coming around to Master P last year when he showed guts and determination to come back quickly for injury to ride the classics. However, his cynical bullshit on the subject of Ferrari destroyed all credibility. Twisted Spoke says Pozzato has a mechanical or crashes in the rain and bemoans his fate.

Edvald Boasson Hagen is feeling “better and better on the bike.” That’s terrific given the fact that he’s paid a ton of money to race his bike. He’s had a quiet season so far and you have to think the shy Norwegian is feeling some extra pressure after Sky’s strong performances in Paris-Nice and Tirreno-Adriatico. The stage race boys are making noise but what about the Sky classics squad? We just don’t see Edvald dealing with the bad weather that well.

Sylvain Chavanel. The Frenchman is our “why not?” rider for La Primavera. He’s aggressive, he’s on form, he can deal with the crappy conditions and knows how to read a race. While teammate Tom Boonen is happy to still have both arms, the Belgian seems a little short on watts and fitness for the first classic of the season. But Chava — he’s ready.

Now throw in dark horses like Blanco’s Tom Slagter and Vini Fantini’s Mauro Santambrogio and BMC’s tough guy Taylor Phinney and you’ve got yourself a true classic.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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