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Fabian Cancellara: I’m tipping Wout van Aert over Tadej Pogačar in Milan-San Remo

'It’s going to be interesting with Pogačar because for me everything points to van Aert,' 2008 winner tells VeloNews.

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Former Milan-San Remo winner Fabian Cancellara is tipping Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma) for the win in Saturday’s race, despite the unstoppable form of two-time Tour de France winner Tadej Pogačar (UAE Team Emirates).

Cancellara, who won the race in 2008 with a last-gasp attack in the finale, believes that van Aert has the edge over Pogačar because he has more cards to play in a finish as technical and tight as the one on the Via Roma, and because the Jumbo rider has the better sprint.

Leading up to the race many pundits have predicted that Pogačar could attack well before the finish, either on the penultimate climb of the Cipressa, or even earlier. Cancellara simply doesn’t see that happening because too many teams will still have fresh riders at that point in the race, and because the opportunity to break clear with a meaningful attack that early will be countered by a flat-out peloton.

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“I just don’t know if they can go any faster uphill on the Cipressa or the Poggio. If you do that then you need to brake into the corners and then accelerate even harder on the exits. Maybe attacks can go from further out on the Cipressa, things we’ve not really seen much, but they’re already going incredibly fast at that point,” Cancellara told VeloNews.

“It’s going to be interesting with Pogačar because for me everything points to van Aert. I think that he has the specialization and more cards to play, and that’s going to make it a tough one for Tadej. For me, Wout is the favorite because he can play different cards, and you have to remember that we’re not talking about a 20km climb at ten percent. This parcours suits van Aert more. It’s a battle of those two favorites but you have to see with the others too.”

One rider that Cancellara feels may struggle to live up to expectations is Filippo Ganna. The Italian has been touted as a possible podium contender by his home media, but he has yet to make a major impression on the race in his previous four starts.

“The Italians always ask me about Ganna, and of course, that would be nice but first he needs to pass the climbs, and then he still needs to make a move because he doesn’t have the sprint. With Wout he can attack, he can wait, he can follow, and he can sprint. It’s like when I won my Milan-San Remo, I had multiple cards to play. It allows you to play poker because Tadej isn’t as fast after 300km.”

Cancellara added that performances earlier in the spring, such as van Aert’s win in Omloop or Pogačar’s stunning ride in Strade Bianche mean little at this point. Both of those races are significantly shorter than the 293km that will be raced in Milan-San Remo this weekend, and more riders have managed to peak at this point than a month ago.

“The performance in Strade in Bianche can’t be compared to Milan-San Remo because it’s a totally different race and a totally different approach. And more riders are at their best condition now.”