2020 Milano-Sanremo

Five Dark Horse Picks For Milano-Sanremo

Five Dark Horse Picks For Milano-Sanremo

We don't think this is the year a pure sprinter will win Milano-Sanremo, but they've got an outside chance.

Aug 6, 2020 by Michael Sheehan
The Milano-Sanremo Build-Up

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The second monument of 2020 arrives on the second weekend of the season's resumption. Milano-Sanremo, often known as the sprinter’s classic is much less straightforward than the nickname implies.

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The outcome of the race largely depends on how the peloton handles the ascent up, and subsequent plunge off of the Poggio. A sprinter has to be in excellent condition, or have a powerful team backing him up to make it onto the Via Roma with the leaders.

The 2020 season provides precious few opportunities to race, and it is unlikely that the peloton will ride up the Poggio idly. The racing that has been seen over the past two weeks has been frantic and aggressive, and there is no reason to suspect the finale to Milano-Sanremo will be any different.

With that in mind pure sprinters did not feature in our favorites, but they've still got an outside chance. Read on for FloBikes' dark horse picks for the very first summer edition of La Primavera.

Greg Van Avermaet

There is no reason to expect Greg Van Avermaet to not be in the final selection on Saturday. The Olympic Champion has been Mister Consistent the past few seasons, however he has been starved of a big classics victory since his utterly dominant 2017 season. 

Van Avermaet has never stopped animating races, and driving breakaways and chase groups. However, due in no small part to lack of team support, Van Avermaet has been falling a little short in the final kilometers. 

This year, Van Avermaet will race alongside Matteo Trentin, which could be a game changer for the Belgian. Both riders could realistically win Milano-Sanremo, but the duo will have to demonstrate cohesion and selflessness if one of them is to win.

Matteo Trentin

Greg Van Avermaet’s Italian counterpart on CCC is an exciting prospect for Milano-Sanremo. Matteo Trentin’s best results at La Primavera are a pair of tenth place finishes in 2016 and 2019. Armed with a strong sprint and the grit necessary to thrive in the closing stages of cycling's longest and most arduous races, Trentin has become a dominant player in the spring classics. Trentin falls in that sweet spot of Sanremo contenders who can stay within contention over the Poggio, and arrive on the Via Roma packing the best sprint of the remaining riders. The only problem is, Van Avermaet also falls in that same sweet spot.

If it comes down to the two CCC leaders in the sprint, who will be on leadout duty?


Caleb Ewan

With five grand tour stages amongst a host of other victories in 2019, Caleb Ewan has asserted himself as the most dominant sprinter on the scene right now. Ewan has shown a great degree of versatility in his sprints as well, winning both uphill drags, steep kicks and fast, flat bunch sprints sprints alike. 

Ewan’s versatility suggests that he may have the best chance amongst the pure sprinters of making it over the Poggio in contention for the win. In 2017, he won the bunch kick at Sanremo behind a solo Vincenzo Nibali. However, Ewan’s Lotto Soudal team has two cards to play in the finale. Whether the race falls into the hands of Gilbert or Ewan will likely be decided on the climb of the Poggio.


Sam Bennett

Similar to the Gilbert and Ewan dynamic on Lotto Soudal, Deceuninck-Quick Step will have Sam Bennett as a fallback plan if the race doesn’t pan out for defending champion Julian Alaphilippe. 

Sam Bennett was tantalizingly close to infiltrating the lead group in 2019, but couldn’t quite pull it off.

Bennett launched a massive winning attack on the uphill finish of stage four (watch it below) of the recently concluded Vuelta a Burgos, which makes him one of the few sprinters entering Sanremo with a win under his belt in the past five months.

The Poggio will be difficult for Bennett, but if Deceuninck-Quick Step can help him arrive on the Via Roma in contention, the Irishman will be a force to reckon with.

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Arnaud Démare

Démare’s inclusion on this list is not without a major asterisk. The French fast man won Milano-Sanremo at the age of 24, but found himself immediately embroiled in scandal as he faced allegations of holding onto his team’s car on the Cipressa. 

The Frenchman is known as one of the weaker climbers amongst the world’s fastest sprinters, but as his career has progressed, Démare has become a more balanced and formidable rider.

With two near misses at the Vuelta a Burgos and a resounding victory at the recently concluded Milano-Torino, Démare is on form for the season restart and could be poised to win an asterisk-free edition of La Primavera. 

The race organizers should do their best to keep a camera bike near him just to be sure.

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