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Confirmed: Mathieu van der Poel will start Milan-San Remo

Alpecin-Fenix officials confirm the Dutch star will race the Italian monument 'without expectations or ambitions.'

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It’s official: Mathieu van der Poel will start Milan-San Remo.

Alpecin-Fenix officials will release the official start list with the Dutch star’s name later Friday.

Team officials confirmed the Dutch star will race Saturday “without expectations or ambitions.”

“Because van der Poel’s return was already scheduled for Tuesday, it was decided on Thursday to add him to the roster for Milano-Sanremo,” team officials said. “Van der Poel’s training in recent weeks has been satisfactory and his back issues seem to be gradually disappearing.

“Nevertheless, the team management do not want to put any pressure on the four-time cyclocross world champion; he will participate without expectations or ambitions,” officials said. “The 293km race was preferred over a training session on Saturday to get some extra race kilometers in the legs. After Milano-Sanremo, van der Poel will stay in Italy for the Settimana Internazionale Coppi e Bartali.”

Van der Poel stopped racing cyclocross in December to nurse nagging back problems. His last road race was at Paris-Roubaix where he was third.

His return to training along Spain’s Costa Blanca raised anticipation of his racing comeback. Belgian media reported van der Poel trained 150km of motor pacing Thursday.

It seemed likely he was going to return to competition at Coppi e Bartali on March 22-26, but speculation grew he could race Saturday in light of a wave of illnesses and sickness sweeping the peloton.

Several other top names are missing the Italian monument due to illness, including defending champion Jasper Stuyven, Caleb Ewan, world champion Julian Alaphilippe and Sonny Colbrelli, and others.

Also read: Stuyven out, Pedersen in

It’s unlikely van der Poel would be able to match the firepower of the favorites on the Poggio in his first race in nearly six months.

Returning to racing and hitting out a few hours at race speed, however, would help him in the major Flemish races next month.

Last year, van der Poel was fifth down the Via Roma.