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Van der Poel: This is a missed chance again at Milan-San Remo

Milano Sanremo 2022 - 113th Edition - Milano - Sanremo 293 km - 19/03/2022 - Mathieu Van Der Poel (NED - Alpecin - Fenix) - photo Luca Bettini/BettiniPhoto©2022
Mathieu van der Poel (Alpecin-Fenix) on the podium in third place at Milan-San Remo (Image credit: Luca Bettini/BettiniPhoto©2022)

Mathieu van der Poel enjoyed an impressive return to racing at Milan-San Remo, grabbing the final podium place on the Via Roma behind Matej Mohorič's (Bahrain Victorious) daring solo attack down the Poggio.

The Dutchman put on a fantastic performance on what was first day of racing this year after working on rehabilitation from a lingering back injury through the early months of 2022. However, the Alpecin-Fenix star was still disappointed after the race.

Speaking at the finish he said that it was a shame that the chase group behind Mohorič – in which he was involved – couldn't make the catch and battle for victory.

"I'm still disappointed," he said. "I think from maybe the biggest favourites I won the sprint for third place. It's a shame we couldn't sprint for victory today but that's Milan-San Remo. A few times it went like this already and it's just a difficult race to win."

Van der Poel came into the race "without any pressure" he said at the Vigorelli velodrome in the morning, even if the external expectations were high. In the end, he was up there with the best on the Cipressa and Poggio as the race exploded under pressure from UAE Team Emirates and Jumbo-Visma.

On the technical descent off the Poggio, it looked as though Van der Poel would be among those to contest victory at the end of six-and-a-half hours of racing, but Mohorič powered on into San Remo alone to seal a famous win.

"We all know that Matej Mohorič can do quick descents," Van der Poel said. "But I thought the group was big enough also to close the gap when we were down. I think he deserves it as well – it's strong if you can maintain a gap until the finish line."

Van der Poel added that few riders wanted to co-operate in the chase group behind Mohorič, singling out his rival Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma) and Mads Pedersen (Trek-Segafredo) as among those who were willing to work.

"Also it was a bit of lack of cooperation. We were two riders with Pedersen and Van Aert that really tried to close the gap. We needed one or two teammates to close it with us, but that's racing.

"I'm really happy with the feeling and I didn't have any pain in the back, so that's a positive thing about today," he added, referring to the back problems that wrecked his cyclo-cross season.

"I hope so," he said when asked about future chances. "But I'm getting old as well. So, this is a missed chance again."

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Daniel Ostanek is production editor at Cyclingnews, having joined in 2017 as a freelance contributor and later being hired as staff writer. Before Cyclingnews, he was published in numerous publications around the cycling world, including Procycling, CyclingWeekly, CyclingTips, Cyclist, and Rouleur, among others. As well as reporting and writing news and features, Daniel runs the 'How to watch' content throughout the season.

Daniel has reported from the world's top races, including the Tour de France, and has interviewed a number of the sport's biggest stars, including Egan Bernal, Wout van Aert, Remco Evenepoel, Mark Cavendish, and Anna van der Breggen. Daniel rides a 2002 Landbouwkrediet Colnago C40 and his favourite races are Strade Bianche and the Vuelta a España.