Modolo leads EF Education First-Drapac at Milan-San Remo

'It is the first Monument race of the year and for us Italians, it’s everything'

Sacha Modolo has been confirmed as team leader at EF Education First- Drapac for Saturday’s Milan-San Remo, as the US WorldTour team hopes for a sprint finish in the Via Roma. 

Modolo finished fourth in his debut at Milan-San Remo in 2010 and has since taken two other top-ten results, including sixth last year. He showed form at Tirreno-Adriatico finishing fourth in Monday’s sprint finish in Fano. Modolo can count on the support of Matti Breschel, Simon Clarke, Mitch Docker, Sebastian Langeveld, Dan McLay and Taylor Phinney for the 291km race.

“I feel tense, but it is a good tension,” Modolo said, revealing the nerves and expectation that every sprinter and every rider feels in the days before Milan-San Remo.

“Being a leader gives me responsibility, a sense of duty and a desire to repay trust. It is the first Monument race of the year, and being an Italian race, for us Italians, it’s everything.”

Modolo hopes to be as strong as possible for the Cipressa and Poggio climbs in the finale of the race, so that he can use his sprint in the Via Roma.

“The rider who wins has retained that little bit more energy throughout the race,” he explained.

“Wasting as little as possible throughout the race and get on the Poggio fresh. Then the sprint itself is a different sprint from the others, as it comes after 300 kilometres. I feel good. I’m pedalling well. I’m very confident of doing a good performance on Saturday and also the week after in Belgium.”

Experience and speed

The EF Education First-Drapac team is a mixture of riders who rode Tirreno-Adriatico and Paris-Nice. Sep Vanmarcke misses La Primavera to rest up for the cobbled Classics, with Matti Breschel, Simon Clarke and Mitch Docker proving the experience and tactical knowledge. McLay could be a sprint alternative to Modolo or help the Italian in the finale.

“It’s special because it’s uncertain,” said sport director Fabrizio Guidi. “Every year we’re asking what’s going to happen on the uphill, the downhill of the Cipressa, how to manage the Poggio. Who will attack and when? There are all these questions. Nobody is really able to say what will happen. Until we see the final, then everything seems easy to predict.”

Phinney last rode Milan-San Remo in 2013, when he finished seventh. He told Cyclingnews he was hoping the suffering at Tirreno-Adriatico “means the butterfly form is on its way and will start to flap its wings very soon”

“The last time I got beat up by Tirreno was in 2013, and I got seventh in Milan-San Remo that year,” he said.

“Sacha is going really well. And I think we’re all motivated as a group to help him out. It’s nice to get some fresh blood in with Dan McLay, and I’m looking forward to racing with Mitch Docker for the first time this year. We have a stout squad.

“Personally, Milan-San Remo is one of my favourite races. Top two in my Monuments list (behind Paris-Roubaix). So I’m always just ready to race it. It’s long but it goes by pretty fast. It’s a special race.”

EF Education First-Drapac p/b Cannondale for 2018 Milan-San Remo: Matti Breschel, Simon Clarke, Mitch Docker, Sebastian Langeveld, Taylor Phinney, Dan McLay and Sacha Modolo.

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