Team Sky will be hoping that their new approach to the Spring Classics holds them in good stead when they line up on the start of Milan-San Remo on Sunday morning. The British team’s Classics squad shunned the typical warm-up races of Tirreno-Adriatico and Paris-Nice in favour of altitude training in Tenerife in a bid to bring their stage race dominance to the one-day arena.
Led by Edvald Boasson Hagen and Geraint Thomas, Sky is hoping to improve on the Milan-San Remo form book, with Juan Antonio Flecha – now of Vacansoleil – posting the team's best result of 18th 2010. In the last two years, Edvald Boasson Hagen has been the team’s top finisher, with 25th place last year.
However, it’s perhaps Thomas who poses Sky’s greatest threat for Sunday’s monument, albeit assuming he can transfer his altitude training legs to the Capi of La Classicissima.
“I think physically we’ll be a lot more conditioned and a lot more ready for it. But with the Classics, it’s more than just being fit. It’s not just riding up a hill and the fastest man wins. There’s tactics and being in the right place at the right time. It’s quite technical and there’s luck too with punctures and crashes and all that sort of stuff. It’s definitely the best prepared we’ve been as a whole as a team. So hopefully with a bit of luck we can get something out of it,” Thomas said on Team Sky’s website.
Sky’s decision to move their Classics riders into isolated training mode means their form is somewhat of a mystery. Thomas claimed fourth in Omloop Het Nieuwsblad last month though, a results that will provide the team with welcome relief that the rider has found his spring race legs and proof that his stage win at the Tour Down Under was no fluke.
“I’ve ridden it [San Remo] once. It’s just a great race. It’s one of those races you grow up watching on the telly. When I rode it in 2011, it didn’t really go as I wanted. I got caught up in a crash at the bottom of La Manie and that was it – race over. Edvald [Boasson Hagen] was in the front group of 30 or so and we were all stuck behind. That was a bit frustrating so hopefully this year will be a lot different.”
“It’s massive. It’s one of the biggest one-day races in the world. It’s up there with Flanders and Roubaix with the history, plus it’s also in Italy with their passion for the sport of cycling. It’s a massive goal for the team and hopefully I can do my bit.”