Cannondale’s multi-pronged Sanremo strategy

Cannondale is focusing on three leaders, Slagter, van Baarle, and Navardauskas, to keep its options open at Milano-Sanremo.

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Cannondale goes into Saturday’s Milano-Sanremo with a different strategy than most: multiple leaders. Head sport director, Charly Wegelius, says the team does not have a dedicated leader, that they will read the race as it goes. “La Primavera,” as it is sometimes called, is the first of the spring monuments, and the longest, at nearly 300 kilometers. Considered to be a sprinter’s classic, the mostly flat course will take riders almost seven hours to complete.

“Tom-Jelte Slagter and Dylan van Baarle have both been in great form of late, while Ramunas Navardauskas is also very well-suited to the race,” said Wegelius.

Slagter has proven he can go the distance in monuments, finishing sixth in the 2014 Liège-Bastogne-Liège. Plus, he’s got a win to his credit this season: stage 1 of Tour du Haut-Var. Van Baarle, 23, will be riding his first Milano-Sanremo, but he’s raced both Paris-Roubaix and Ronde van Vlaanderen twice in his three years in the WorldTour. Navardauskas, the oldest of the trio, has two grand tour stage wins to his credit (2014 Tour and 2013 Giro) and finished 11th at the 2014 edition of Sanremo.

“I think the most difficult part is that it’s almost 300km. Not so many guys can manage the distance. We’ve got a few good riders like Ramunas [Navardauskas], Matti [Breschel], Langeveld, Slagter,” Van Baarle said.

With a victory at GP Larciano on March 6, Simon Clarke is also coming into Sanremo with confidence plus some motivation to prove himself on Cannondale after transferring from Orica – GreenEdge at the close of 2015. “I feel like I’ve got a fresh start and a new opportunity,” he said. “I’m just trying to make the most of it.”

Cannondale roster for 2016 Milano-Sanremo

Simon Clarke (Aus)
Kristijan Koren (Slo)
Sebastian Langeveld (Nl)
Alan Marangoni (I)
Moreno Moser (I)
Ramunas Navardauskas (Lit)
Tom-Jelte Slagter (Nl)
Dylan van Baarle (Nl)