Sonny Colbrelli will be the go-to man for Bahrain-Merida at this Saturday's Milan-San Remo. The Italian took his first victory in the team's colours at Paris-Nice, beating John Degenkolb and Arnaud Démare into Amilly.
Colbrelli finished ninth at last year's Milan-San Remo, with Démare the eventual winner in the messy sprint. Backing Colbrelli up will be Niccolò Bonifazio, who finished fifth at the 2015 race, two-time Amstel Gold winner Enrico Gasparotto, and Grega Bole. Experienced heads Manuele Boaro, Franco Pellizotti, Borut Bozic and Giovanni Visconti complete the line-up.
Sports director Alberto Volpi says Saturday will be about the waiting game for the Bahrain-Merida team.
"First of all, you have to keep quiet. The San Remo is a race that seems very easy but usually becomes a real puzzle. Calm helps to interpret it better," said Volpi. "Our team is competitive and Sonny Colbrelli showed at the Paris-Nice to be in a good shape. Behind him, there are other riders who can get a good result as Niccolò Bonifazio, Grega Bole and Enrico Gasparotto. In short, we are not going only to look."
Bahrain-Merida for Milan-San Remo: Manuele Boaro, Niccolò Bonifazio, Grega Bole, Sonny Colbrelli, Enrico Gasparotto, Franco Pellizotti, Borut Bozic and Giovanni Visconti.
Sonny Colbrelli (Bahrain-Merida) takes his first Paris-Nice stage win (Getty Images Sport)
Pozzato returns to Milan-San Remo heading Wilier Triestina - Selle Italia
It's been 11 years since Filippo Pozzato won Milan-San Remo, and nine since he's been on the podium, but the 35-year-old is not done with the Primavera. He will return with Wilier Triestina "with great ambitions", according to the team.
Pozzato is the last Italian to win the first Monument of the season, and last year had his best finish since 2012 when he was eighth in the sprint behind Arnaud Démare (FDJ).
Pozzato has refound some of his previous speed, coming twice in the top three in the Tour de Langkawi sprints and eighth in the GP Industria & Artigianato – second in the bunch sprint behind the breakaway.
Pozzato will have at his side fellow sprinters Manuel Belletti and Jakub Mareczko, climbers Matteo Busato, Daniel Felipe Martínez, Julien Amezqueta and Yonder Godoy and Jacopo Mosca for the early work.
Wilier Triestina for Milan-San Remo: Julien Amezqueta, Manuel Belletti, Matteo Busato, Yonder Godoy, Jakub Mareczko, Daniel Felipe Martínez, Jacopo Mosca and Filippo Pozzato.
Bardiani CSF looking to honour Milan-San Remo selection
Bardiani CSF will be looking to carry on the aggressive approach they've shown at Tirreno-Adriatico at this weekend's Milan-San Remo. The Italian squad has named an eight-man line-up that is relatively unchanged from the Race of the Two Seas.
Mirco Maestri has been at the forefront in much of the racing in Italy this week, pushing Peter Sagan hard for the points classification and losing out by just two points. He is one of the seven riders that will head from the final stage in San Benedetto del Tronto up to Milan for the race on Saturday. Joining him will be Simone Andreetta, Enrico Barbin, Nicola Boem, Simone Velasco and Luca Wackermann. Paolo Simion and Lorenzo Rota will come in to replace Nicola Ruffoni and Alessandro Tonelli.
"We have a clear target: taking the spotlight racing with the combative spirit showed at Tirreno" said sports director Stefano Zanatta. "Milan-San Remo is a very prestigious race and we have to honour it doing more than our best. It's a unique showcase for our young riders and for our sport project. Our selection includes, of course, the riders having the best condition at the moment. I'm sure everyone will be super motivated to shine and leave an evident mark on the race".
Bardiani CSF for Milan-San Remo: Simone Andreetta, Enrico Barbin, Nicola Boem, Mirco Maestri, Lorenzo Rota, Paolo Simion, Simone Velasco and Luca Wackermann.
Wanty-Groupe Gobert back Dehaes and Van Keirsbluck as Classics resume
Wanty-Groupe Gobert head into Nokere Koerse on Wednesday with defending champion Kenny Dehaes in their ranks. Two days later, it is Guillaume Van Keirsbulck that will lead the team's ambitions at the Handzame Classic.
The team has had a successful Classics campaign thus far with Van Keirsbulck taking victory at Le Samyn, where he also took the lead of the Belgian Cycling Cup. DS Hilaire Van der Schueren is looking for the team to continue their solid Classics campaign.
"Nokere Koerse is a very special race. The finish on the cobblestones of Nokereberg makes it something special. We will have to be in good shape. Some guys just came back from training camp and will therefore be more tired. We have to find out how well they are recovered. "
"We are aiming for a podium spot in Nokere. I have a plan in mind, but I won't reveal it here."
Wanty-Groupe Gobert for Nokere Koerse and Handzame Classic: Frederik Backaert, Kenny Dehaes, Wesley Kreder, Mark McNally, Danilo Napolitano, Andrea Pasqualon, Guillaume Van Keirsbulck and Pieter Vanspeybrouck.
Guillaume Van Keirsbulck (Wanty - Groupe Gobert) wins 2017 Le Samyn (Bettini Photo)
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