One of France's best sprinters, Romain Feillu, will be having a go at Milan-San Remo this Saturday. At his first-ever appearance in the Italian monument, the Vacansoleil-DCM rider - whose brother Brice rides for Leopard-Trek - looks forward to mixing it with the world's best sprinters in the hope of a successful outcome.
"I want to," Feillu told Velochrono when asked if he thought he could battle it out for the victory in the Classicissima. "I don't know. I'm not in perfect condition, that's for sure [Feillu was ill before Paris-Nice and had to abandon the race - ed.]. But the race is 300 kilometres long... I hope to find my form during the race and that the others make mistakes. This kind of race, like Paris-Tours or the GP Plouay, that are very long, are suited to me. Milan-San Remo is less hard than the Worlds in Melbourne [where Feillu finished tenth - ed.]!"
Feillu has had a great start into the 2011 season by winning an impressive three stages of the Tour Méditerranéen. A flu brought him temporarily off track but as he travelled to Italy on Wednesday, he hoped to come back just as strong.
"I've decided to recon the last few kilometres on my own in the next couple of days. I'll ride the 'capi' (final hills along the Mediterranean coastline towards San Remo) several times as my inexperience is a little bit of a disadvantage. But I've raced the Cipressa and the Poggio at the Tour Med in 2007 and I remember them well."
The 26-year-old said that much of the race outcome depended on race position on top of the Poggio climb, and that he would not hesitate to follow any attackers to battle it out in a smaller group "If I'm in a good position and if I have the means to go for it, I will. Maybe other sprinters won't have the necessary juice and will be eliminated. Even if Gilbert is still very fast in a sprint after 300 kilometres, I will go with him because I'll have my chance. But that means that I have to be very well-placed on top of the Poggio, and I don't know if my form is good enough to do so," he acknowledged.
Even if a bunch sprint seems more likely due to the great amount of world-class sprinters at the event, Feillu said that the weather in Northern Italy this week-end may make the race finale unfold differently. "If, for instance, the weather conditions are very poor, it can move the goalposts and lead to someone like Gilbert having an advantage. The peloton would have more of a hard time to organise a chase. It's possible that it will rain this week-end. I'd clearly prefer the sun..."