Bonifazio hoping for Milan-San Remo success after Lugano victory

Lampre-Merida sprinter holds the Strava record for the Poggio

Niccolò Bonifazio (Lampre-Merida) used his finishing speed to win the GP Lugano on Sunday and is hoping his victory is the first step towards taking aim at Milan-San Remo.

Bonifazio is still only 21 but made his professional debut with Lampre-Merida in 2014 and showed his talent by winning the Coppa Agostoni, a stage at the Tour of Japan, and three stages at the Tour of Hainan. He was arguably the most successful neo-professional of the 2014 season.

Bonifazio grew up on the Ligurian coast and the roads and final climbs of Milan-San Remo are his daily training routes. He currently hold the Strava record for the Poggio, covering the 3.6km climb in 6:41, in the same time as riders who were in the front group of last year's race. He revealed he recently completed a seven-hour training ride so he can be used to the 293km Milan-San Remo race distance.

Lampre-Merida has Filippo Pozzato, Sacha Modolo and Trofeo Laigueglia winner Davide Cimolai but Bonifazio is hoping to get his chance and secure a place in the Italian team's squad for this year's Milan-San Remo.

"I don't know what I can do (at Milan-San Remo) But it's the race I've always dreamed about," he told Gazzetta dello Sport after dominating the GP Lugano sprint, ahead of Francesco Gavazzi (Southeast) and Matteo Montaguti (Ag2r La Mondiale).

"I'll get ready by riding Paris-Nice, where I hope to get a result. Milan-San Remo goes on my home roads and I know every metre. I'm hoping for big things for March 22."

While many Italians shy away from the cobbles and cold of the spring Classics, Bonifazio is keen to return to northern Europe after Milan-San Remo.

"I like the races in Belgium and maybe I can do something up there in a couple of years. Last year I rode them all but I wasn't in great shape due to a crash that left me with knee problems," he explained.

"The Tour of Flanders is tough and perhaps Ghent-Wevelgem is more suited to me. Roubaix is a magical race. Last year I flatted at the start of the Forest (of Arenberg) and so I finished the race in the team bus."

Bonifazio is built for the sprints and started his 2015 season at the Tour Down Under. He finished in the top ten on three stages, securing him second place in the points competition. He was third in the hectic sprint that decided the GP Costa degli Etruschi back in Italy but insists he is far more than a sprinter.

"The sprint (to win in Lugano) was the last of my problems," he claimed. "In training I work on my climbing because it's my weak point. That's why I hit the last two climbs near the front, to avoid going into the red.

"I've also started training at the dinner table by working with nutritionist Iader Fabbri. I've already lost a kilo and a half. I used to eat as if I was always racing. Now I'm more careful."

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