Quick-Step Floors Cycling Team to Milano-Sanremo
Julian Alaphilippe, Philippe Gilbert and Elia Viviani will give our squad several cards to play on Saturday.
Almost 300 kilometers on the agenda, seven hours in the saddle and one of the most electrifying finishes in cycling, that's Milano-Sanremo in a nutshell. The Classic dubbed by many as "the easiest in the world, but the most difficult to win" will run this weekend its 109th edition, a wet one from start to finish, according to the latest forecast, and Quick-Step Floors will look to be again one of the protagonists.
As usual, the race will kick off early in the morning in Milan, but it will take several hours before the peloton will face the day's first difficulty, Passo del Turchino, the climb used as launch pad to victory by Fausto Coppi, more than seven decades ago. Capo Mele, Capo Cervo and Capo Berta will soften the bunch before the Cipressa (5.6 km, 4.1%) and the iconic Poggio. The latter was introduced on the course at the 1960 edition and averages only 3.7% over 3.7 kilometers, but despite that, it will weigh heavily in the outcome as it features just nine kilometers from the finish.
Last year, Julian Alaphilippe impressed everyone at his debut in the race, when he counterattacked on the Poggio before putting in a daredevil descent and sprinting to third. The Frenchman will once again line up at the start, as will Philippe Gilbert, who'll tick off the 45th Monument start of his career in a classic in which he podiumed twice (2008, 2011), and Elia Viviani, another contender for a strong result on the famed Via Roma, who comes into the race following a storming start to his season, which saw the Italian score five victories in the first two months.
Supporting them in the first Monument of 2018 will be Tim Declercq, Iljo Keisse, Maximiliano Richeze and Fabio Sabatini, all seasoned riders who can control the race and whose experience can be instrumental coming into the business end of Milano-Sanremo.
"It's always difficult to understand this race and predict what will happen, because a win depends on a number of factors and can come after a multitude of scenarios, but one thing that's certain is we are going there with a strong team and several cards to play", said Philippe Gilbert when asked about Saturday's appointment. "I was a bit sick in Tirreno-Adriatico, but I'm happy for finishing the race and adding some valuable kilometers under the belt before Sanremo. It's one of the biggest classics of the year and we are ready for it, despite not having Fernando in the team. The confidence is there, the squad, as I said, is a solid one and doesn't lack options, and we'll just see what the race will bring."
Photo: ©Tim De Waele/ Getty Images