Milan-San Remo 2023 - How Van der Poel claimed his third Monument
Milan-San Remo 2023 - The essential information
'A race of infinite possibilities' – But is Milan-San Remo now beyond the sprinters?
Hello and welcome to our live coverage of the 2023 Milan-San Remo.
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.
The 175 riders are currently signing on.
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.
Peter Sagan (TotalEnergies) has also appeared at the sign-on podium of Milan-San Remo for one last time.
And the riders have just started moving away from the départ fictif. The 2023 edition of Milan-San Remo has begun.
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.
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.
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 riders have left Abbiategrasso and have now headed out to the kilometre 0 sign.
They peloton has now reached kilometre 0 and have stopped briefly. A few fans take advantage of the unexpected halt to take a selfie.
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.
And racing has officially begun. Only 294 kilometres to go.
292 kilometres to go
The peloton is already lined out as the early break tries to go clear.
And here's a first photo of today's start at Abbiategrasso.
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.
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...
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.
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).
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.
265 kilometres to go
And as Milan-San Remo reaches the city of Pavia the gap has now reached 3:20.
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.
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
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
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.
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."
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.
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."
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 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.
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.”
220 kilometres to go
The kilometres are ticking by, and the gap for the nine riders ahead is remaining stable at roughly three minutes.
The sun continues to shine brightly on San Remo and its a pleasant 15 degreees out there. While we're on the subject of the weather, here's another piece of recommended reading from the Cyclingnews archives: a photo gallery showing the San Remo of exactly 10 years ago, when snow almost caused the race to grind to a halt, and a stark contrast to today's pleasant racing conditions. The link is here.
198 kilometres to go
We're a third of the way through the race and the gap for the nine riders ahead remains stable at just over three minutes. Alpecin-Deceuninck deploy a rider at the front of the pack to help Jos Van Emden (Jumbo-Visma) and Jacopo Mosca (Trek-Segafredo) keep the nine on an unusually short leash.
Testament to that short leash for the break is that the average speed so far is a brisk 44.5 kmh. Add in the tailwind later on and the 2023 Milan-San Remo could be a very speedy edition indeed.
186 kilometres to go
Former double Swiss National Champion and Paris-Roubaix podium finisher Sylvain Dillier's reinforcement of the chase of the nine riders ahead is making a noticeable difference to the gap between the peloton and the break. With three teams driving rather than two - Alpecin-Deceuninck, Jumbo-Visma and Trek-Segafredo - the gap has now dropped to 2:25.
178 kilometres to go
After hours of riding across the plains of Lombardía, the road is beginning to rise and we're moving into hill country. The Passo del Turchino, the highpoint of the race and the one major climb of the day is now less than 30 kilometres away.
The gap on the nine ahead, incidentally, shrank to almost two minutes before the combined forces of Alpecin-Deceuninck, Jumbo-Visma and Trek-Segafredo opted to take their foot of the accelerator and let the break's advantage ease out again to 2:35. There's plenty of time left to reel that line back in.
And here's a very evocative image of the 2023 Milan-San Remo break of the day, and a reminder of all the race's associations with the arrival of Spring.
And one of one of the leading favourites, 2020 Milan-San Remo winner Wout van Aert.
And here's a shot of smiling Peter Sagan (TotalEnergies) next to Fernando Gaviria (Movistar) earlier in the race. Neither of them have yet won Milan-San Remo, and for Sagan, of course, this will be his last change to do so.
165 kilometres to go
The race is winding its way up the Turchino and the gap is stable at around three minutes.
160 kilometres to go
Alpecin-Deceuninck, Jumbo-Visma and Trek-Segafredo are still leading the peloton on the lower slopes of the Passo del Turchino. Three minutes the gap.
Collaboration between the nine ahead still looks to be pretty good, incidentally, probably helped by the fact that three teams have two riders in the break. A reminder of its make up: 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).
150 kilometres to go
The hardest part of the Turchino incidentally, is the last half kilometre, which ramps up to nearly nine percent.
The nine riders reach the tunnel at the summit of the Passo del Turchino with an advantage of 2:19.
And we have an unconfirmed abandon, the first of the day, for Astana Qazaqstan's Gleb Syritsa.
Crash in the peloton on the upper slopes of the Turchino. Former winner Julian Alaphilippe is one of those involved and he's getting a bike change.
All of the riders from the crash are back up again. Alaphilippe is chasing the peloton on the descent.
142 kilometres to go
Following his uphill crash, Alaphilippe is very close to getting back onto the peloton, which is being led at a steady pace on the fast, well-surfaced descent of the Turchino by Trek-Segafredo. The gap for the nine ahead has shrunk considerably, to 1:34.
A bigger crash for Maciej Bodnar (TotalEnergies) on the descent, possibly caused by a puncture, and he's now waiting for a spare bike.
We've now had our first sighting of the Mediterranean, glittering in the sunshine and the nine riders ahead are just rolling along the coast road. The riders will now have the sea on their left for the rest of the race.
The peloton is easing up a little, presumably to allow riders dropped on the Turchino descent to regain contact and the gap on the break rises correspondingly, to a little over two minutes.
128 kilometres to go
For the first time in this year's race, UAE Team Emirates are moving towards the front, just in what is likely the final spell of calm before the decisive storm.
UAE Team Emirates lead on a fast descent round one of the dozens of headlands the peloton will tackle en route to San Remo and into the town of Cogoleto. The gap for the nine men ahead has expanded to just over three minutes.
116 kilometres to go
Having hammered it on the descent of the Passo del Turchino, and then eased back to let UAE Team Emirates handle the pace-setting for a while, Trek-Segafredo return to the front of the bunch and line it out.
109 kilometres to go
The forecast tailwind for the coast has materialised and the bunch have picked up their pace notably as the race winds its way along the coast, with Jumbo-Visma putting a man on the front. 2:30 the gap.
One of the first shots of the 2023 Milan-San Remo peloton on the coast
Less than 100 kilometres to go and the peloton powers through a feed zone just before the town of Spotorno and no less than five tunnels in six kilometres.
86 kilometres to go
The break of nine see how despite their best efforts, the gap is shrinking slowly but steadily and is now just above two minutes.
80 kilometres to go
Jos Van Emden (Jumbo-Visma) continues to tap out the rhythm at the front of the bunch, much as he has done for a significant proportion of the previous 200 kilometres.
77 kilometres to go
After somewhat murky cloud coverage when the race hit the coast, the sun has come out as the riders approach the finale of San Remo.
San Remo is famous for being the most unpredictable of Classics, but there's no getting away from the fact that the last bunch sprint of more than 30 riders was in 2016, with a win for Arnaud Démare (Groupama-FDJ). Démare has had a quiet spring so far, having gone down with COVID-19 earlier in the year, but he's one of eight former Milan-San Remo winners taking part today.
Matej Mohoric (Bahrain Victorious) will be pushing for a repeat win this year, but San Remo is a fickle beast and the last rider to win it two years in a row was Erik Zabel in 2001/2002.
20 kilometres to go to the first trio of capi, the Mele, Cervo and Berta.
65 kilometres to go
The gap continues to shrink remorselessly for the nine leaders: just 1:35 now.
The front part of the peloton's physiognomy has changed notably, with delegations of riders from Ineos Grenadiers, EF Education-EasyPost, Jayco AIUIa and Lotto-Dstny showing themselves more and more near the front.
No sign of any riders missing a turn yet in the break, incidentally, despite their being more than 200 kilometres off the front.
An atmospheric shot of the peloton as it wends its way along the coast in Milan-San Remo 2023.
Less than four kilometres to the foot of the Mele and the gap for the nine is down to 1:15. Trek-Segafredo are driving hard through the town of Laguiglea in the bunch.
And on the first slopes of the Mele, the first rider from the break to crack drops back: Alois Charrin (Tudor Pro Cycling).
50 kilometres to go
And a minute's gap for the eight riders ahead as they pound off the Mele and onto the next climb, the Cervo.
Onto the Cervo and the eight riders 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); Negasi Haylu Abreha (Q36.5) and Aleksandr Riabushenko 35 (Astana Qazaqstan) still hold out by a minute. EF Education-EasyPost and Bora-Hansgrohe make their presence known.
Crash for Basque allrounder Alex Aranburu (Movistar) after he touches wheels with another rider on the higher slopes of the Cervo. He's back up again, but regaining contact with the bunch at this point in the game will be no easy task.
The good weather and fast tailwind have helped keep the peloton almost intact when we're into the last 45 kilometres: that will make for an even more fraught finale for what is already one of the season's major stress-fests.
And another rider is dropped from the break as we hit the Capo Berta: Negasi Haylu Abreha (Q36.5).
The Berta is the steepest of the five final capi and a double setback for Astana Qazaqstan as Aleksandr Riabushenko is dropped from the break and Mark Cavendish, 2009 winner, is dropped from the bunch.
35 kilometres to go
A fast, technical descent off the Berta for the five riders left ahead: Tonelli (Green Project-Bardiani-CSF-Faizané); Balmer and Maas (Jayco AIUIa); Maestri and Rivi (Eolo Kometa). But their gap is a bare 30 seconds now.
So the first three capi are done and dusted, and it's onto the real crunch time for the Milan-San Remo peloton: the Cipressa and then the Poggio.
Crash. Two Bora-Hansgrohe riders, and one from DSM are down.
31 kilometres to go
The break's advantage is down to just 16 seconds as the race blasts towards the Cipressa.
Crash for Jan Tratnik (Jumbo-Visma).
Sam Bennett reportedly one of the Bora-Hansgrohe riders who went down. Michal Kwiatkowski (Ineos Grenadiers) also has crashed.
27 kilometres to go
The break is caught after more than 250 kilometres to go and we're onto the Cipressa.
Ineos Grenadiers and Lotto-Dstny are on the front on the lower slopes of the Cipressa.
25 kilometres to go
Fernando Gaviria (Movistar) has been dropped on the Cipressa as UAE Team Emirates pile on the pressure.
Diego Ulissi and Felix Grosschartner are dishing out the pain for UAE Team Emirates on the front of a fast shrinking bunch on the Cipressa.
Alaphilippe, Van Aert, Mohoric, Van der Poel all up there at the front end of a fast-shrinking bunch.
Arnaud De Lie (Lotto-Dstny) is in trouble on the upper slopes of the Cipressa.
21 kilometres to go
Over the top of the Cipressa and the bunch is still altogether as Ineos Grenadiers power briefly to the front in a ferocious fight for position.
The bunch powers down the Cipressa descent, but there's still some 80 or 90 riders left ahead in the main group.
Mathieu van der Poel heads the peloton off the Cipressa and we're onto the flat coast road en route to the Poggio.
17 kilometres to go
Attack by Nils Politt (Bora-Hansgrohe).
Politt sits up and is caught.
Soudal-QuickStep on the front as the race powers along towards the Poggio.
12 kilometres to go
Bahrain Victorious, Alpecin-Deceuninck and TotalEnergies, riding for Peter Sagan, are leading the string.
10 kilometres to go
And now in the constant swirl of teams moving to the front and then getting edged out, Ineos Grenadiers and EF Education-Easy Post are at the front. Less than a kilometre to go for the Poggio.
Bahrain Victorious leads the bunch onto the Poggio. Mohoric is third wheel.
Bahrain Victorious are laying down a ferocious pace at the front.
Van der Poel is moving up but it's still Bahrain Victorious in control.
And then Tim Wellens launches a ferocious acceleration for UAE teammate Tadej Pogačar.
Seven kilometres to go
The bunch is lined out behind Wellens and Pogačar and the peloton splits. Eight rides on the front.
6.5 kilometres to go
Pogačar attacks. Filippo Ganna follows, as does Wout Van Aert and Van der Poel.
The four riders ahead, Van der Poel, Van Aert, Pogacar and Ganna have a 50 metres gap.
5.5 kilometres to go
Van der Poel attacks over the summit of the Poggio and solos away.
Van Aert leads the chase with Ganna and Pogacar on his wheel.
The gap between Van der Poel and Van Aert is roughly 100 metres. Ganna is struggling to keep up on the descent.
2.5 kilometres to go
Van der Poel is still ahead and the gap is opening. Van Aert and Pogacar and Ganna remain the closest chasers.
Off the Poggio and Van der Poel leads ahead of Pogačar, Van Aert and Ganna.
A six second advantage for Van der Poel. Barring disaster he's got this one in the bag.
Van der Poel swings through the final bends and it's almost all over bar the shouting.
Mathieu van der Poel has won the 114th edition of Milan-San Remo.
Ganna takes second, Van Aert is third and Pogačar is fourth.
Van der Poel is discussing his win: "The Cipressa was not as hard as on previous years but I already felt my legs were still fresh. I knew I wanted to place an attack at the end of the Poggio but I managed to get a small gap on Pogačar. This is one of the races I really wanted to win, and the way I did it is beyond expectation. I'm really happy with this one."
Referring to the fact that his grandfather Raymond Poulidor also won the same race, Van der Poel agrees that it's a special win "not only because he won it, but also because it's a Monument. It's one that I think every rider wants to have one day. I was really focussed on this race since I started training again after the 'cross Worlds and Tirreno was not so good as I expected, but I knew i needed some race days to get to my best level and this was my best level I think."
Disappointment for Tadej Pogačar (UAE Team Emirates) after he and his teammate Tim Wellens laid down the law on the Poggio in impressive style. But Van der Poel was able to take advantage of that and move ahead at the summit to go for the victory.
More reasons to celebrate for Alpecin-Deceuninck thanks to Soren Kragh Andersen leading home the remnants of the bunch for fifth, 26 seconds after his teammate Van de Poel had won.
Van der Poel is the first Dutch winner of Milan-San Remo since Hennie Kuiper in 1985.
The winner of Milan-San Remo 2023
The Dutch National anthem rings out over the Via Roma for the first time in nearly four decades as Mathieu van der Poel (Alpecin-Deceuninck) stands on the podium as winner of the 2023 Milan-San Remo.
For Wout van Aert, this is his third visit to the Milan-San Remo podium, after victory in 2020 and third place in 2022.
The winner's podium, with from l-r, Filippo Ganna (Ineos Grenadiers), second; Mathieu van der Poel (Alpecin-Deceuninck), first and Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma) in third.
Check in at the website for more coverage, reactions and reports. Meantime, our full race report can be found here.
Tadej Pogačar finished fourth. You can read about his post-race reaction here.
No regrets for Tadej Pogacar after Poggio attack at Milan-San Remo.
And here are Wout van Aert's thoughts on his third place, his third podium finish in San Remo: Wout van Aert finds solace in Milan-San Remo defeat to Van der Poel
And here's our story analysing the reaction from Filippo Ganna on securing second place in a Monument on home soil:
'With the head, I wanted to follow, but with the legs, I didn’t know' - Mixed feelings for Ganna at Milan-San Remo.