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Hirschi, Bettiol and beyond: the challenge to the sprinters is launched


The great puzzle accompanying the Milano – Torino 2024 revolves around one question: will it end in a sprint or will there be room for the action of some brave attackers? The solution might lie somewhere in between, meaning there could indeed be a sprint, but with not entirely compact ranks.

The ascent of Prascorsano (3.1 km at 7%) to be tackled 28 km from the finish, and then the more pedal-friendly one of Colleretto Castelnuovo, could disrupt the plans of some sprinters. At the start, there are two riders who have already won the oldest race in the world in a sprint, namely Mark Cavendish (Astana Qazaqstan), who raised his arms in 2022, and Arnaud Démare (Arkéa-B&B Hotels), in 2020, who will try to achieve another win. The British rider, in particular, will be able to rely on his entire team, with Michael Mørkøv, Cees Bool, and Michele Gazzoli ready to pilot him to the best possible position in the finale.

Also, well-equipped teams seem to be Uno-X Mobility, fielding the experienced Alexander Kristoff, 2nd in the closing stage of the Tirreno-Adriatico, as well as the young Søren Wærenskjold, and Cofidis, relying on the fast pace of Bryan Coquard and Axel Zingle. They will do everything they can to reach the sprint, including Ethan Vernon (Israel-PremierTech), Casper Van Uden (dsm-firmenich PostNL), Marijn Van den Berg (EF Education-EasyPost), Arne Marit (Intermarché-Wanty), Davide Persico (Bingoal WB), Nicolò Parisini (Q36.5), Giovanni Lonardi (Polti-Kometa), and Enrico Zanoncello (VF Group-Bardiani CSF-Faizanè). On the other hand, Movistar has a double card, with Davide Cimolai, third in San Benedetto del Tronto, ready in case of a compact sprint, and Ivan García Cortina, if the race becomes a bit more selective.

However, not everyone will await the sprint calmly. The UAE Team Emirates, for example, will likely try to disrupt the race between Prascorsano and Colleretto, favoring an explosive but not extremely fast rider like Marc Hirschi, who has achieved a third of his 15 career victories in Italian classics. With him will be Diego Ulissi, returning after a few days off due to illness, and the young compatriot Jan Christen, 5th in the Trofeo Laigueglia.

And if any of these riders were to try to make a move, we are sure that other riders would jump on the train to try to anticipate the sprint. Among these, we think of Alberto Bettiol (EF Education-EasyPost), looking for encouraging signs ahead of the Milan-Sanremo, Alexey Lutsenko (Astana Qazaqstan), Stefano Oldani (Cofidis), Louis Barré (Arkéa-B&B Hotels), Kevin Vermaerke (dsm-firmenich PostNL), Marco Tizza (Bingoal WB), Nick Schultz (Israel-Premier Tech), Gianluca Brambilla, and Walter Calzoni (Q36.5).

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