Rho > Orbassano 193.4km
It’s going to be a big sprint, but the finish is different from last year.
Nice and sunny. There’s a bit of wind around at the start, but it quickly disappears.
A big straight road into town but punctuated by several roundabouts. They come at 5.1km, 4.8km, 3.4km, 2.7km, 2.4km, 1.8km, 1.6km and 1.3km to go. This is followed by a tight left-hand turn with 900m to go, a fast chicane with 700m to go and finally a gentle right-hand bend which finishes with 300m to go. The roundabouts are relatively easy, both lanes look just as fast as each other and won’t require slowing down, but this is a ridiculously technical finale.
Despite the roundabouts being able to be taken at pace, teams will still need to be at the front with 5km to go as moving up the bunch will be incredibly difficult. Teams with a long sprint train can take advantage of their numbers, get to the front early and stay there. The rest will just have to hope they can squeeze past before the flamme rouge.
Dylan Groenewegen – Mezgec is rested ahead of Sanremo, so the team have had to make alterations to the sprint train which supported Groenewegen in Tirreno. Štybar, Quick and Reinders are likely to be the final three men, if it was me, I would go with Quick as the last man, it’s a position he has the speed to cope well with. Groenewegen won’t have been happy after not winning in Tirreno, this gives him an immediate opportunity to get back to winning ways.
Nacer Bouhanni – he’s looking to properly get his season started after experiencing some bad luck up until this point. A top 5 would be a step in the right direction.
Biniam Girmay – he’ll have Vliegen, Bonifazio and Teunissen to lead out, which is one of the best sprint trains in the race. He sprinted well in Tirreno, but with Milano-Sanremo just around the corner, he can’t afford to take too many risks in the finale.
Fernando Gaviria – another race where he turns up without the riders to support him in the finale. He’ll need to jump on another sprinter’s wheel and hope they lead him to glory. In recent races he’s looked fast, but positioning is always going to be a problem.
Jordi Meeus – without a sprint train to help in Tirreno, he still managed to walk away with a couple of top 10s, but this is a race where he’ll be hoping for much more. He should have Archbold and Walls to help him in the finale, and both are good enough to ensure the Belgian has a good spot for the sprint. I don’t think he’ll win but the podium should be a realistic ambition.
Casper van Uden – the youngster has recently been riding in the sprint train for Sam Welsford, and he’s done a good job. This is his opportunity to ride for himself and the team have a good sprint train to support him. They have the experience of Alex Edmondson and the youthful exuberance of Märkl, Eddy and Mayrhofer. They might be young, but they have a lot of power.
Mark Cavendish – arrives here with something resembling a sprint train, at long last! With the likes of Riabushenko, Fedorov and Syritsa it’s the first time Cav has men to keep him at the head of the race in the final kilometres, then it’s over to Cees Bol. This is the first time in 2023 that I look at the sprint trains and think Cav starts with a good chance of success.
For me, this is a battle between Groenewegen and Cavendish, either could win, but only one will.
A first Astana win for Mark Cavendish.
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