Milan-Sanremo 2019: When is the first monument of the year, what TV channel is it on and who are the favourites?

John MacLeary
Peter Sagan (pictured, left to right, in 2017), Michal Kwiatkowski and Julian Alaphilippe are all capable winners at Milan-Sanremo - ANSA
Peter Sagan (pictured, left to right, in 2017), Michal Kwiatkowski and Julian Alaphilippe are all capable winners at Milan-Sanremo - ANSA

What is this race and why should I care about it?

Milan-Sanremo, or la classica di Primavera (the spring classic), is the first of five 'monuments' of the season – the others being Tour of Flanders, Paris-Roubaix, Liège-Bastogne-Liège and Il Lombardia – and at 291 kilometres is one of the longest one-day races in world cycling.

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The late Tom Simpson became the first British rider to win Milan-Sanremo in 1964 when he outwitted France's Raymond Poulidor on the final Poggio climb before claiming the first of three monuments on his palmarès. Mark Cavendish became the second Briton to win Milan-Sanremo after outsprinting Heinrich Haussler to the line in 2009.

Italian riders have dominated the race since its inception in 1907 where they have won 51 of the 107 races. Following a relative drought for the host nation, Vincenzo Nibali ended a 12-year wait for Italy with his win last year – Filippo Pozzato (2006) being the previous Italian to prevail.

Although referred to by some a sprinters' classic, the last two editions were won by riders who attacked on the final climb, the Poggio.

But why, you may be asking, should you care about Milan-Sanremo? Put simply it is one of the biggest one-day races of the season. After some decent racing in the European heartlands of cycling – Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, Strade Bianche, Paris-Nice and Tirreno-Adriatico – the race marks the beginning of a run of huge one-day races.

When is Milan-Sanremo?

The eighth WorldTour race of the season – and its third one-day race following the Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race, Omloop Het Nieuwsblad and Strade Bianche – gets under way at 10.10am (9.10am GMT) on Saturday March 23, 2019.

How long is this year's race?

Milan-Sanremo is a whopping 291 kilometres long.

How can I watch this year's race?

Those lucky enough to have subscriptions to Eurosport can follow the action on British Eurosport with broadcast details to follow nearer the race. However, if you cannot watch the race live then you can follow the latter stages of the race right here. Bookmark this page and return on March 23 for our live commentary.

What's in it for the winner?

The winner will trouser a cheque – or possibly a bank transfer to the same value, we have not asked race organisers RCS Sport – to the value of €20,000 while the second-placed rider gets €10,000 and the rider on the third step of the podium €5,000. Each rider in the top 20 will take home something, even if it's only €500. Here's the full breakdown . . . 

With Milan-Sanremo being a WorldTour race, there will also be points on offer that will go towards a riders' overall rankings . . . 

What teams will ride at Milan-Sanremo?

As with all WorldTour races, each of the 18 teams that make up the top-flight of professional cycling receive an invite and in the case of Milan-Sanremo all teams are contracted to race.

In addition to the WorldTour teams, race organisers RSC handed wildcard spots to seven Pro-Continental teams – Androni Giocattoli-Sidermec, Bardiani-CSF, Cofidis Solutions Crédits, Direct Énergie, Israel Cycling Academy, Neri Sottoli-Selle Italia-KTM and Team Novo Nordisk.

And who is Telegraph Sport tipping?

Of all the one-day races in the WorldTour calendar, Milan-Sanremo is possibly the hardest to predict, or as Cavendish has repeatedly said throughout his career: “It’s the easiest to finish, but the hardest to win".

With that in mind, here are our selections for Saturday's big race . . .

  • Elia Viviani: The Italian national champion is in absolutely blistering form and can expect to start with one of the strongest teams around. Telegraph Sport would suggest, on  form, now may be the time for the 30-year-old to finally win a monument.

  •  Fernando Gaviria: The former team-mate of Viviani's appears to have made a smooth transition over to UAE Team Emirates where he has managed three wins in 2019 and is one of the many sprinters who will arrive in Milan confident of getting a result.

  • Caleb Ewan: The pint-sized Aussie sprinter who finished as runner-up last year has looked sharp this year and will be hoping to take a step up to top spot on the podium on Saturday.

  • Dylan Groenewegen: The Dutchman will arrive in flying form having won back-to-back sprint stages at Paris-Nice, but can the Jumbo-Visma sprinter make it a winning debut on the longest one-day race in the WorldTour calendar?

  • Julian Alaphilippe​: The second Deceuninck-Quick Step rider here and although he can not match team-mate Viviani in a one-on-one sprint, the in-form Frenchman has enough in his locker to improve on his third-place finish from 2017.

  • Peter Sagan: Has struggled with form and fitness recently, but as one of the greatest all-rounders of a generation the two-time runner-up – 2013 and 2017 – must be ignored at your peril.

  • Michal Kwiatkowski: Was a late addition to the Team Sky line-up, but the Pole who won here in 2017 arrived in strong form off the back of a decent ride at Paris-Nice. Definitely one to watch.

  • Sonny Colbrelli: The Italian sprinter will be just one of two cards his Bahrain-Merida team can play with defending champion Vincenzo Nibali being the other.

  • Sam Bennett​: Another of the sprinters that will arrive confident having won two stages at Paris-Nice and though the Irishman is likely to be overshadowed by Bora-Hansgrohe team-mate Sagan, may benefit as eyes focus on the Slovakian.

  • Magnus Cort: Fresh from winning a stage at Paris-Nice, the young Dane will lead the Astana charge though will be hoping the race does not conclude in a bunch sprint finish.

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