© Milano – San Remo 

Milan – San Remo: Van der Poel, 62 years after Poulidor! 

Sixty-two years after his grandfather Raymond Poulidor, Dutchman Mathieu van der Poel won Milan-Sanremo solo on Saturday after an impressive attack over the Poggio. The rider from Alpecin-Deceuninck made the difference just before the summit of Poggio, five kilometers from the finish, to edge a group of three other superstars by fifteen seconds. Second place was settled in a sprint by the Italian Filippo Ganna ahead of the Belgian Wout Van Aert and Slovenian Tadej Pogacar.

This is the third victory for van der Poel in one of the five Monuments, after his successes in the Tour of Flanders in 2020 and 2022. “I couldn’t imagine a better scenario than today,” van der Poel explained at the finish. “I told the team that I felt very good when we were on the Cipressa climb. I knew I wanted to attack on top of the Poggio and found a small space between Tadej Pogacar and the wall to do so. It was a race that I really wanted to win and the way I did today exceeded all my expectations. It is indeed very special to win here. Not just because my grandfather did it in the past, but also because it’s a Monument and a race that every rider in the peloton dreams of winning one day.”

The results: 1. Van der Poel (Alpecin-Deceunick) ; 2. Ganna (INEOS Grenadiers) ; 3. Van Aert (Jumbo-Visma)… 


Danilith Nokere Koerse: Merlier shines at home

Tim Merlier continued his convincing start to the season by retaining his crown at the Danilith Nokere Koerse. The Belgian champion won after seeing his Soudal-Quick Step team annihilate all the breakaway attempts in the last hour of the race, in particular that of the trio Sep Vanmarcke (Israel-Premier Tech), Florian Vermeersch (Lotto-Dstny ) and Laurence Pithie (Groupama-FDJ), who were reeled in the closing meters. “It’s my home race. Winning it for the second time gives me a lot of pleasure and makes me very proud,” Merlier explained. “The race was a little crazy, especially the final. I am happy to have been able to finish off the work of my team.”

With this race, Merlier won his fifth victory of the season, dominating his compatriots Edward Theuns (Trek-Segafredo) and Milan Menten (Lotto Dstny).

The results: 1. Merlier (Soudal-Quick Step) ; 2. Theuns (Trek-Segafredo) ; 3. Menten (Lotto Dstny)…


Milano – Torino: De Kleijn surprises

The great annual rehearsal for Milan-San Remo, the Italian classic Milano-Torino ended with the expected sprint finish. Dutchman Arvid De Kleijn of the Tudor Pro Cycling Team won ahead of Fernando Gaviria. The Colombian, beaten by a whisker, accused De Kleijn of having cut him off in the final. However, his appeal did not succeed in proving his case with the commissioners. Casper Van Uden (21) completed the podium. “It’s incredible. The team did an amazing job of putting me in a good position. And when I launched with 300 meters, I knew I was going to win, I felt it,” De Kleijn said at the finish. “Everyone around me told me I could win, so I believed it. I have a great group of guys around me. Things are going very well with the team; we have a good train. As a result, we showed that we were capable of accomplishing incredible things.”

Before the final sprint, a breakaway of five then four riders (Veljko Stojnic could not keep pace with Johan Meens, Stefan De Bod, Alessio Nieri and Alessandro Iacchi) had escaped from the peloton before being caught at 12 km from the finish after 180 km of being on the front.

The results: 1. De Kleijn (Tudor Pro Cycling Team) ; 2. Gaviria (Movistar Team) ; 3. Van Uden (Team DSM)… 


Grand Prix de Denain – Porte du HainautMolano wraps up the win for UAE Team Emirates

It was a race to whet your appetite three weeks ahead of Paris-Roubaix. At the end of a very lively day marked by numerous crashes, Juan Sebastian Molano (UAE Team Emirates) won the Grand Prix de Denain, which is the second round of the Coupe de France. The Colombian rider, among a group of five riders who came out on top in the last of the twelve cobbled sections of the event, which also included his teammate Mikkel Bjerg, was the fastest in the final sprint, finishing ahead of Tim van Dijke (Jumbo- Visma), Timo Kielich (Alpecin-Deceuninck) and Edvald Boasson Hagen (TotalEnergies). “I am very happy. I had really good legs,” a very happy Molano said. “The team was very strong, we were in a very good position throughout the day. Thank you, thank you, thank you to Mikkel Bjerg, he is an excellent rider and he did an extraordinary job in the final. This victory is for the team, for the staff, for my family…”

The results: 1. Molano (UAE Team Emirates) ; 2. Van Dijke (Jumbo-Visma) ; 3. Kielich (Alpecin-Deceuninck)…


Bredene Koksijde Classic: Thijssen doubles up

Gerben Thijssen continues to impress. The Intermarché-Circus-Wanty sprinter won by a handful of centimeters ahead of the German Pascal Ackermann (UAE Team Emirates) and the Australian Sam Welsford (Team DSM) at the Bredene Koksijde Classic.

However, the UAE Team Emirates team had done everything to win. They initiated an increase in tempo with fifty kilometers to go to the finish, after two favorites crashed: Tim Merlier (Soudal – Quick-Step) and Hugo Hofstetter (Arkéa-Samsic). Then by launching Ackermann perfectly after an impressive pull from Juan Sebastian Molano. But Ackermann was finally overhauled by Gerben Thijssen. His win is the eighth victory of the season for his team.

The results: 1. Thijssen (Intermarché-Circus-Wanty) ; 2. Ackermann (UAE Team Emirates) ; 3. Welsford (Team DSM)…


Cholet – Pays de la Loire: A first for Pithie

Laurence Pithie (Groupama – FDJ) took his first victory in the professional peloton. The 20-year-old New Zealander was very aggressive in the final moments of a 205-kilometer long race to win ahead of Anthony Perez (Cofidis) and Lorenzo Manzin (TotalEnergies).

In the final circuit, the Arkéa-Samsic, Tudor, and Cofidis formations controlled the many attacks that punctuated the last 50 kilometers. But three kilometers from the line, a group of about fifteen riders got off the front before Alexis Vuillermoz (TotalEnergies) tried to take the win with an attack in the last kilometer. Laurence Pithie reeled him in quickly before dropping him in the last 500 meters. “Today was really tough. We wanted to be aggressive during the last laps and we executed this plan to perfection,” Pithie explained. “Lewis Askey and I went in a strong group of five. It came back on the last lap, but Lewis did an incredible job to allow me to play for the victory. The effort I made in the last kilometer was so hard. I had never ridden so hard in my life. I managed to keep the advantage. I was already very happy with my second place yesterday, but every rider wants to win so I’m happy to achieve this performance today.”

The results: 1. Pithie (Groupama-FDJ) ; 2. Perez (Cofidis) ; 3. Manzin (TotalEnergies)… 


Trofeo Alfredo Binda – Comune di Cittiglio: Van Anrooij takes her first win 

Shirin Van Anrooij won her first victory in the Women’s WorldTour at just 21 years old at the finish of the Trofeo Alfredo Binda. The Trek-Segafredo cyclist won solo after being the first to attack. Twenty kilometers from the finish, she left the pursuers behind to take a fifteen-second lead. On the last climb of Orino, Van Anrooij continued her efforts and further increased her lead despite the attempts of the other riders to bring her back. “I can’t believe it,” she explained at the finish. “This is my first victory in one of my favorite races! I absolutely did not expect to stay at the front. I thought the peloton would catch me and Balsamo would win the sprint. But somehow, I managed to win this race!”

The Trek-Segafredo posted a double with Elisa Balsamo taking second place. Vittoria Guazzini (FDJ-SUEZ) completed the podium.

The results: 1. Van Anrooij (Trek-Segafredo) ; 2. Balsamo (Trek-Segafredo) ; 3. Guazzini (FDJ-SUEZ)…


Upcoming races: 

20 to 26 March: Volta Ciclista a Catalunya, https://www.voltacatalunya.cat/en/

22 March: Classic Brugge De Panne, https://classicbruggedepanne.be/fr/

24 March: E3 Saxo Bank Classic, https://www.e3saxoclassic.be/fr_BE

26 March: Gent-Wevelgem hommes et dames, https://www.gent-wevelgem.be/fr

26 March: Roue Tourangelle, https://www.larouetourangelle.com/