March 17, 2017 by Irish Peloton
2017 Milan San Remo Preparation
Mark Cavendish beat Heinrich Haussler to win Milan San Remo in 2009. He beat him by about an inch on the line. Winning that race was the result of thousands of little decisions made by Cavendish and Haussler themselves but also by their team-mates, rivals, directeur sportifs and loved ones. All of those decisions put together added up to what transpired between the two men in the approach to the finish line.
What became clear in the instant that Cavendish thrust his wheel one inch in front of Haussler’s was that Cavendish’s decision to ride Tirreno-Adriatico was right and Haussler’s decision to ride Paris-Nice was wrong.
Take a look at the results of Milan-San Remo for the last few years and it’s easy to jump to the conclusion that Paris-Nice provides the better preparation. Last year’s winner Arnaud Demare was present at the French race as were the winners of the 2015, 2014, 2012 and 2011 editions – John Degenkolb, Alexander Kristoff, Simon Gerrans and Matt Goss. Additionally, five of the six podium finishers in the last two years chose Paris-Nice – Demare, Ben Swift, Degenkolb, Kristoff and Michael Matthews.
But dig a bit deeper into the results lists and a different picture emerges. The following bar chart shows the breakdown of which race was preferred by all of the podium finishers in Milan-San Remo for the past 10 years:
Even though five of the last six winners have ridden Paris-Nice, this chart shows that Tirreno-Adriatico has been the preferred choice of the top contenders in Milan San Remo for the last decade. The ‘one’ in the ‘Other’ column was Ben Swift who finished third in 2014 having taken the unorthodox decision to ride the single day Nokere Koerse in Belgium while all of his closest rivals were in France or Italy.
Let’s dig deeper still and extend the data to include the top 10 finishers for the last 10 years:
The five riders, along with Swift, who didn’t ride either during this period were Fillipo Pozzato (2016), Juan Jose Lobato (2104), Ian Stannard (2013), Bernard Eisel (2013) and Robbie Hunter (2007). In recent years the lean towards Tirreno Adriatico has actually been even heavier as no top 10 in Milan San Remo has had more than four riders from Paris-Nice since 2008 – apart from 2015.
It may simply be a matter of geography and logistics. Perhaps riders and their teams are more inclined to choose to race Tirreno-Adriatico simply because it takes place in the same country as Milan-San Remo. Whatever the reason, the last five years indicate if you ride Paris-Nice you’re more likely to win. Whereas certainly over the last 10 years, if you ride Tirreno-Adriatico you’re more likely to finish on the podium.
The following is a list of the top 20 bookies favourites and in which race they chose to hone their form before this weekend:
Paris-Nice: John Degenkolb, Arnaud Demare, Alexander Kristoff, Nacer Bouhanni, Michael Matthews, Sonny Colbrelli, Ben Swift, Julian Alaphilippe, Sam Bennett
Tirreno-Adriatico: Peter Sagan, Fernando Gaviria, Mark Cavendish, Greg Van Avermaet, Caleb Ewan, Michal Kwiatkowski, Elia Viviani, Fabio Felline, Tom Boonen, Edvald Boasson Hagen, Stephen Cummings