Milan – San Remo 2024: on the verge of breakdown, Alaphilippe receives support and can believe in it

The return of Milan - San Remo in 2024 is also the return of questions about the state of form of Julian Alaphilippe.

Milan – San Remo 2024: on the verge of breakdown, Alaphilippe receives support and can believe in it

The return of Milan - San Remo in 2024 is also the return of questions about the state of form of Julian Alaphilippe. Little spared and in crisis with his manager, the Frenchman must prove in the Primavera that he still weighs between Mathieu van der Poel and Tadej Pogacar.

The shores of the Mediterranean are often an invitation to relax, a place where life is good under generous sunshine. They are also a promise. With Milan - San Remo they augur a cycling season which really restarts, taking its most thrilling turn, announcing the month of Classics where madness and pieces of bravery combine against a backdrop of legends.

Located at the crossroads of winter and spring, the Primavera Milan - San Remo serves as a curtain raiser, the first act of a play numbering five. An anachronistic race, an ode to languor and patience of almost 300 km. Certainly, the organizers have trimmed 6 kilometers to make it the shortest edition since 1981, but taming its 288 km will not be easy. Because if it is the easiest Classic to win, Milan - San Remo is also the most elusive, through the acceptance of its character and its melody.

Of the many contenders for this Milan - San Remo 2024, who will set off from Pavia this Saturday March 16, Julian Alaphilippe is not among the favorites and seems destined to attend the battle as a simple spectator. It must be said that the double world champion has lost his splendor. Formerly pack leader of the Soudal Quick-Step, he abandoned this role to Remco Evenepoel. Above all, he has multiplied the poor performances and a series of falls, as recently at Het Nieuwsblad, attracting the wrath of his manager Patrick Lefevere, who was particularly acerbic in the media against him.

However, in the absence of the Belgian, focused on preparing for other objectives such as the Tour de France, Alaphilippe will be the leader of his team between Lombardy and Liguria. Milan - San Remo will be another chance to show that he still has something under his belt. What former Belgian world champion Philippe Gilbert believes. “There are a lot of people who say that Julian no longer puts one foot in front of the other. I tend to defend him, he is not finished,” assures the one who worked with the Frenchman between 2017 and 2019. Five years ago, Gilbert worked perfectly to prepare the ground for Alaphilippe, who then raised his arms at the end of Via Roma, his first Classic.

If the French puncher has already tamed the sleeping beauty at the peak of his career and hopes to defy the predictions, he knows full well that he will have to take advantage of a little help to win as the balance of power does not is more in his favor. Indeed, for Milan – San Remo 2024, eyes are turned, once again, to Mathieu van der Poel and Tadej Pogacar. The two pyrotechnicians had been the great entertainers of the race in 2023, the second dynamiting the finale in the ascent of Poggio, before seeing the first leave him company, thanks to the descent, and race to victory.

Can they do it again this year? Everything suggests that they have the fate of this 115th edition of Milan – San Remo in their hands. The outgoing winner returns to the road and will thus be able to show off his world champion jersey for the first time in 2024. However, don't think that he is chasing form. His winter was studious to say the least as he crushed the cyclo-cross races and won a new world title.

For his part, the Slovenian has shaken up his habits and only comes to Milan - San Remo with only one day of racing in his legs. At Starde Bianche, he had set fire to the dirt roads of Tuscany, giving himself a solitary escape of 80 km, with no one able to dispute him. A way of marking your territory before tackling a challenge that still resists you. Enough to whet your appetite a little more.

Milan - San Remo 2024 may be played elsewhere, who knows. Behind, the two men, the competition questions. Accustomed to places of honor, Wout van Aert declined his participation, busy preparing for the Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix. Without the Belgian, the Jumbo-Lease a Bike will rely on the Frenchman Christophe Laporte. We will also have to keep an eye on the 2022 winner Matej Mohoric, but also the Italian Alberto Bettiol, author of a demonstration during the last Milan-Turin, the Dane Mads Pedersen or the two Ineos-Grenadiers riders Filippo Ganna, not far from the mark in 2023, and Tom Piddcock. The sprinters will have their say if they manage to resist the explosion promised in the middle of the greenhouses which adorn the Poggio, overlooking San Remo.

The 115th edition of Milan-San Remo will leave from Pavia, a town located about forty kilometers south of Milan at 10:15 a.m. The arrival in San Remo is scheduled for around 4:47 p.m., according to the organizers' most optimistic predictions.

The 115th edition of the Primavera, the first of the Monuments of the cycling calendar, will be broadcast in full on Eurosport 2 with an on-air broadcast scheduled from 9:50 a.m.

The Milan – San Remo 2024 route was traced between Pavia, for a unique start, and San Remo for a distance of 288 km. This is the shortest edition in 43 years and was won by Belgian Fons De Wolf.

However, the program remains unchanged. Back in 2023 after two years without being taken, the Passo del Turchino confirms its return to the race as the first difficulty to face for runners after 138.3 km. Behind, you will have to go through the chain of Capi, the Capo Mele (km 236.4), the Capo Cervo (km 241.3), the Capo Berta (km 249.1) before the diptych Cipressa (km 266, 3 - 5.6 km at 4.1%)-Poggio di San Remo (km 282.4 - 3.7 km at 4%, maximum slope at 8%).

Outgoing winner, Mathieu van der Poel stands out as the favorite to succeed himself. The Dutchman's main rival will be the Slovenian Tadej Pogacar, author of a show of force during the Strade Bianche. Behind them, a crowd of outsiders are ready to take advantage of a failure. We can distinguish the Italians Alberto Bettiol and Filippo Ganna, the Briton Tom Pidcock, the Dane Mads Pedersen, the French Julian Alaphilippe, Christophe Laporte, Arnaud Démare and Benoît Cosnefroy, the Pole Michal Kwiatkowski and the Slovenian Matej Mohoric.

Note the absence of Wout van Aert. Winner in 2020, the Belgian is in training in the Canary Islands where he is preparing for the Flanders Classics and in particular the Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix.