I posted my predictions for Milan San Remo yesterday. I was really looking forward to this race, perhaps more than any other of the Monuments.
This morning I watched Milan San Remo in two parts. First I watched a feed from steephill.tv until 34 km to go. At that point the riders had finished with Capo Berta and the Cipressa was looming. I left then do to a ride and when I returned watched first one video of the Cipressa and then another of the final 10 km including Poggio. There were small gaps between what I saw live and the first of these videos, and another gap (the Cipressa descent) between the two videos. But despite the gaps I really enjoyed watching the race.
I have to say I was pleased with how my picks did. I was all over Cavendish because I thought his team support (especially Kwiatkowski, and Stybar) was so strong and he's a proven rider who has come into the early season relatively fit. Well, stuff doesn't always go as planned, and first Cavendish threw his chain on the Cipressa, causing him to burn matches he desperately needed on the Poggio, then Kwiatkowski and Stybar crashed on the Poggio.
As an aside, Cavendish used to complain about his SRAM Red, but this is the second time this year he's dropped a chain at a critical point in a big race (the other a sprint finish in Tirreno-Adriatico) and this year he's on Shimano Di2. But he runs Di2 with FSA chainrings and therein lies the issue, some say.
I dismissed Kristoff's chances because I thought his fate over Poggio would be tied to Cavendish's. When I saw him at the back of the pack on Cipressa I thought smugly that this had turned out to be a sound prediction but then later I saw him being led up the Poggio by his dedicated teammate Luca Paolini. I was amazed because Kristoff his built like a tree trunk... and a Sequoia not some flimsy eucalyptis. How does he haul all that mass over those climbs? Anyway, there he was.
Other than this detail I think I was fairly spot on. My early attack threat was Thomas, and while his attack came earlier than either he or I expected, he was indeed the first over the Poggio. But the gap just wasn't enough: he needed at least 15 seconds to hold off a chase, a gap he had approaching the top, but there was enough coherence in the chase that that evaporated.
In a Cavendishless sprint my top pick was Degenkolb, and well,.... heh.
Sagan and Cancellara and Valverde were all sort of in the not-quite-good-enough category I thought they'd be. If the race had been to the top of the Poggio Sagan has better chances than Degenkolb but the descent and subsequent 2 km straight has a congealing effect. Valverde as a printer is a notch lower still than Sagan but lacked the top end to solo away. Meanwhile Cancellara missed his usual podium position but as he noted the riders ahead of him were all stronger sprinters so it was the best he could do in the circumstances.
So I was very pleased with my hasty picks for MSR. Next up is Flanders.