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Jasper Philipsen and his Alpecin-Deceuninck teammates will stay in Italy before Saturday’s Milan-San Remo and ride the Poggio climb several times during a midweek reconnaissance ride of the route, with the Dutch sprinter hoping he can have a shot at a sprint victory in the Via Roma finish.
Philipsen won two of the sprint finishes in Tirreno-Adriatico and was a close second to Fabio Jakobsen in the other. He won in San Benedetto del Tronto on Sunday after a week of hard racing and three hilly stages but played down suggestions he was currently the best sprinter in the world.
Philipsen knows that even the best sprinter in the world might not win Milan-San Remo if the likes of Tadej Pogacar, Tom Pidcock, Wout van Aert and his own teammate Mathieu van der Poel decide to go on the attack on the Cipressa and Poggio.
“It’s probably not going to be a sprint this year but you never know,” Philipsen said.
Mathieu van der Poel enjoying life as a lead-out in Tirreno-Adriatico
Tirreno-Adriatico: Primoz Roglic seals overall victory, Philipsen wins final sprint
Tirreno-Adriatico: Jasper Philipsen wins stage 3 sprint
“Maybe I’m naive to think that but with Milan-San Remo you really do never know. If you don’t have hope or never try, it’ll never happen.
“It’s a 300km race, maybe all for nothing but also there’s a small chance, so we have to try to take that chance because it’s a monument.”
Philipsen will ride the final part of the Milan-San Remo route and focus on studying the final Poggio climb so that he can learn how to calibrate what could be a decisive effort. If he can close the gap on any attacks on the descent of the Poggio, he could have a chance in the sprint to the line. Such a scenario has happened often in what is one of the most finely balanced races in professional cycling.
“We plan to do a Milan-San Remo recon maybe on Wednesday and so we’ll ride the Poggio three times. It takes three years to do that in the race, so it’s good to ride it multiple times in training and get the experience.
After racing for over 30 hours at Tirreno-Adriatico and sprinting with tired legs on Sunday, Philipsen is also looking forward to a recovery week before Saturday’s seven hours in the saddle.
“We’ll rest up this week, drink a few cappuccinos and eat Italian crostata cakes. Then hopefully we’ll have the legs for Saturday,” he said, using ‘we’ to talk about van der Poel and his other teammates.
Philipsen and van der Poel celebrated their success together after their first win in Foligno and again in San Benedetto del Tronto on Sunday. Van der Poel played a vital role in both sprints, as a high-speed leadout man around the last sweeping bend in Foligno and then by lining out the peloton in the final kilometre in San Benedetto del Tronto.
The work was a way for Van der Poel to work on his form while also helping his teammate take Alpecin-Deceuninck’s first wins of 2023.
“I’m going to ask the team to have Mathieu with me at every race I do,” Philipsen joked.
“That’s not possible but it’s really nice he’s doing that job and doing it really good. He needed this race but he’ll be ready for the Classics and so we’ll have two options for Milan-San Remo.”