Dutch cyclist Mathieu van der Poel matched his grandfather by winning the Milan-San Remo “monument race” Saturday. Van der Poel attacked near the summit of the Poggio, the race’s final climb, extended his advantage on the twisty and technical descent and crossed the line alone with plenty of time to celebrate.
Van der Poel, who rides for the Alpecin-Deceuninck team, finished 15 seconds ahead of Filippo Ganna, Wout van Aert and Tadej Pogacar — the two-time Tour de France champion — after nearly 6 ½ hours of racing.
French cyclist Raymond Poulidor, Van der Poel’s maternal grandfather, won the Milan-San Remo in 1961. He died in 2019.
Van der Poel said the win was special not only because his grandfather won it, “but also because it’s a monument.
“It’s one that I think every rider wants to have one day,” he added. “A special win in a special race. It’s so difficult to win here.”
The Milan-San Remo is the first of the five “monument races” of the season, followed by Tour of Flanders, Paris-Roubaix, Liege-Bastogne-Liege and Tour of Lombardy.
It’s Van der Poel’s third monument win after victories in the Tour of Flanders in 2020 and 2020. He also has stage wins in both the Tour de France and Giro d’Italia and is an accomplished cyclo-cross rider and mountain biker.
Pogacar had entered as the pre-race favorite after winning the Paris-Nice race in dominating fashion and he attacked slightly earlier up the Poggio. But Ganna quickly caught Pogacar and a four-man group formed in the lead, setting up Van der Poel’s winning move.
Ganna, previously known as a time-trial specialist, won the sprint for second.
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