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Pogacar flanked by aggressive team at Milan-San Remo

SANREMO ITALY AUGUST 08 Giulio Ciccone of Italy and Team Trek Segafredo Tadej Pogacar of Slovenia and UAE Team Emirates Cipressa 239m during the 111st Milano Sanremo 2020 a 305km race from Milano to Sanremo MilanoSanremo MilanoSanremo on August 08 2020 in Sanremo Italy Photo by Nico Vereecken PoolGetty Images
Tadej Pogacar in action at Milan-San Remo in 2020 (Image credit: Getty Images)

Tadej Pogačar may insist that UAE Team Emirates have a line-up "prepared for all the different options" at Milan-San Remo, but, in truth, their selection is built squarely around the Slovenian.

Matteo Trentin, who abandoned Paris-Nice with a delayed concussion, and fellow fast finishers Fernando Gaviria and Pascal Ackermann are absent, with UAE Team Emirates instead fielding a team designed to lay the groundwork for Pogačar’s seemingly inevitable offensive in the finale.

Davide Formolo, Diego Ulissi, Jan Polanc, Oliviero Troia, Alessandro Covi and Milan-San Remo debutant Ryan Gibbons will line up alongside Pogačar at the Vigorelli velodrome in Milan on Saturday morning.

Already winner of the UAE Tour, Strade Bianche and Tirreno-Adriatico this season, Pogačar arrives in Milan as arguably the key favourite for Milan-San Remo, even if the race, at first glance, isn’t as ideally suited to his characteristics as Liège-Bastogne-Liège or Il Lombardia, the two Monuments he won last season.

The peloton, however, is braced for Pogačar’s team to try to shape the race to his liking by setting an infernal tempo on his behalf on the capi in the final 50km of Milan-San Remo.

"I couldn’t have asked for a better start to the year. The whole team has pulled together and worked really hard so I think it is showing in our results as a group. I’m excited for Milano-San Remo," Pogačar said in a statement released by his team on Thursday. 

"The finish is not too far from where I live in Monaco so I know the last part of the race and the final climbs a bit."

Pogačar’s lone previous appearance at Milan-San Remo came in the pandemic-delayed edition of 2020, when he placed 12th on Via Roma, two seconds behind winner Wout van Aert. The following month, Pogačar won his first Tour de France and he defended that title last July.

A reigning Tour de France champion hasn’t won Milan-San Remo since Eddy Merckx in 1975. In the intervening period, Laurent Fignon and Vincenzo Nibali are the only two riders to have won both the Tour and Milan-San Remo during their careers.

 "As we’ve seen before, this race is one of the most difficult to win and can end in many outcomes," Pogačar said. "At UAE we have a team prepared for all the different options so we’re ready for what is sure to be a great race."

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