Despite the absence of the injured Fernando Gaviria, Quick-Step Floors have an array of options for Milan-San Remo with Philippe Gilbert, Julian Alaphilippe and Elia Viviani all named in the line-up for Saturday’s race.
Alaphilippe enjoyed a sparkling debut at Milan-San Remo last year, when he was part of the three-man winning move that formed over the Poggio, though he had to settle for third in the sprint on the Via Roma behind winner Michal Kwiatkowski and world champion Peter Sagan. The Frenchman was an aggressive presence at Paris-Nice and approaches the race in fine form.
Gilbert has been a regular animator at La Classicissima over the years. He led over the Poggio with Riccardo Riccò in 2007 and placed third in 2008 and 2011, and has placed renewed emphasis on the race this year as he continues his bid to win all five Monument Classics over the course of his career.
Already winner of the Tour of Lombardy (2009 and 2010) and Liège-Bastogne-Liège (2011), Gilbert added the Tour of Flanders to his palmarès last year with a remarkable solo attack, and will make a tilt at Paris-Roubaix this April. Gilbert topped up his condition at Tirreno-Adriatico.
“It’s always difficult to understand this race and predict what will happen, because a win depends on a number of factors and can come after a multitude of scenarios, but one thing that’s certain is we are going there with a strong team and several cards to play,” Gilbert said of Milan-San Remo. “I was a bit sick in Tirreno-Adriatico, but I’m happy for finishing the race and adding some valuable kilometres under the belt before San Remo.”
Viviani, winner of five races already this season, will be Quick-Step’s option in the event of a mass sprint on the Via Roma. The Italian placed 9th in the race last year.
Quick-Step will be without Gaviria, however, who looked primed for victory on his debut in 2016 only to crash on the Via Roma. The Colombian sustained a broken metacarpal in his left hand following his crash on the penultimate stage of Tirreno-Adriatico on Monday, which is set to rule him out of action for the next four weeks.
“It’s one of the biggest classics of the year and we are ready for it, despite not having Fernando in the team,” Gilbert said. “The confidence is there, the squad, as I said, is a solid one and doesn’t lack options, and we’ll just see what the race will bring.”
Quick-Step’s seven-man squad for La Primavera is completed by Fabio Sabatini, Max Richeze, Tim Declercq and Iljo Keisse.
Quick-Step Floors for Milan-San Remo: Philippe Gilbert, Elia Viviani, Julian Alaphilippe, Fabio Sabatini, Max Richeze, Tim Declercq and Iljo Keisse.