Milan-San Remo is one of the few one-day races which can give equal chances to the pure sprinters and the true Classics riders, depending on how it is raced and the conditions. Picking only 10 contenders from the list of 200 riders on the start line can be exceedingly difficult, but Cyclingnews does its best to narrow down the contenders.
Moreno Moser (Cannondale) - Should the seemingly impossible happen, and Peter Sagan not make the final selection off the Poggio, Cannondale have another superb option in the plucky Italian with a rich heritage in the sport. If the odds fall in Moser's favour on Sunday, it will be because the race has come down to a breakaway
Matt Goss (Orica GreenEdge) - When Goss won Milan-San Remo in 2011, it was also the first time that he finished the longest race of the season. A year later not quite the rider he had been 12 months prior, and after a two-week course of antibiotics, he was 15th. It's fair to say that this is a race that suits the Australian and despite having the defending champion in the GreenEdge ranks, will be the team's best option for the win.
Fabian Cancellara (RadioShack Leopard) - The 2008 winner of Milan-San Remo has finished at runner-up the last two years running, and apart from his fourth at this year's Strade Bianche, as opposed to his win in 2011, the form of the RadioShack Leopard rider is not that much different. Where Cancellara does suggest is that he is lacking, however, is confidence given that he is without a win so far in 2013.
Simon Gerrans (Orica GreenEdge) - The defending champion from Milan-San Remo had already signaled his intentions to enjoy a slower start to the year - with a heavy focus circled around the Ardennes classics but don't discount him completely.
Mark Cavendish (Omega Pharma - Quick-Step) - The Manx Missile won his first and only monument back in 2009 and while many are hopeful that Cavendish can do it again, crashes and changes to the route have impeded him over the past three editions and effectively ruled him out from reaching the Poggio in a position to contest the win. He recently stated he "can't win Milan-San Remo" but his status as a former winner means he should not be completely forgotten.
Sylvain Chavanel (Omega Pharma - Quick-Step) - A bunch sprint victory at Paris-Nice, numerous top-10's and fifth overall at the 'Race to the Sun' marks the current French time trial champion as a real threat for Sunday's 298km race.
Philippe Gilbert (BMC Racing) - An early start to the year in Australia and a steady stream of racing in the lead-up to Milan-San Remo secures the world road race champion spot amongst the favourites. Gilbert will be in good company for the race with teammates Thor Hushovd (3rd in 2009) and Greg Van Avermaet (9th in 2011) providing a number of cards to play.
Filippo Pozzato (Lampre-Merida) - A winner of San Remo in the earlier part of his career remains arguably the Italian's biggest victory to date. The 2006 winner has since finished on the podium in 2008 along with two years of consistent results. Fifth in 2011 and sixth last year should not be scoffed at but the 31-year-old will need the right mix of riders at the finish if he is to take another win.
Peter Sagan (Cannondale) - The question seems not to be 'can Sagan win?' rather 'who can beat Sagan?' with the Slovakian powerhouse arguably the shortest price favourite in recent memory. Cannondale's two strong options certainly gives the team an upper hand and the cat-and-mouse game that is sure to ensue could just as easily work against the men in green.
Sagan heads into Milan-San Remo chasing his first Classics victory, having scored five wins so far this season, the most-recent head-to-head against Cavendish in a major confidence boost - not that he seems short of it.
Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) - For the second year in a row, Nibali heads into Milan-San Remo following overall victory in Tirreno-Adriatico. The task at hand in the Monument is to convert third place into first and while the Astana recruit is confident, he knows he's going to have to turn some serious heat on former teammate Sagan.
Nibali will be calling on serious workhorses Fredrik Kessiakoff, Francesco Gavazzi, and Maxim Iglinsky who could be another option for the team in the right circumstance to make the race as hard as possible.
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