Kooij ninth on first stage ZLM Tour
Surprisingly, the first bunch sprint of the ZLM Tour did not take place. Olav Ko...
Wout van has Aert finished on the podium at Milan-Sanremo for the third time in four years. On the Poggio, the winner of the 2020 edition broke away with three other riders but could not hold off an attack by Mathieu van der Poel. On the Via Roma, Van Aert sprinted to third place.
The 114th edition of the Italian monument was the second fastest edition ever. Despite the lacklustre first two hundred and fifty kilometres, the pace in the peloton was good. Before the Cipressa climb, the usual breakaway group was caught.
On the Poggio, the crucial section of the iconic Italian race, Van Aert, Van der Poel, Tadej Pogacar and Filippo Ganna got away from the peloton. Just before the top, Van der Poel pulled away. Van Aert gave it his all to pursue the Dutchman, but he was unsuccessful.
"I can live with this result", the Belgian said. "I don't blame myself or the team. Mathieu was extremely strong. He attacked at the right moment and deserved to win. Congratulations to him. We kept the breakaway within reach, and the pace was very high all day. Then on the Cipressa, it didn't go as fast as expected. We went to the foot of the Poggio with a big group."
"We were going for the win today"
Van Aert recounted his experience of the climb. "The pace was high from the base. I ended up in a nice group of four, which included the four strongest men in the race today. On the descent, I did everything I could to catch Mathieu. We were going for the win today. Unfortunately, it didn't work out. But the legs were good. I was one of the better riders in the final. That's a good thing for the next few weeks."
"Wout showed good form"
"We can definitely live with this performance", sports director Grischa Niermann said. "Wout showed good form. We originally intended to make the race hard on the Cipressa, but we had to change our strategy partly due to Jan Tratnik's crash. We decided not to waste too much energy before the start of the Poggio. The strongest won today. That's all there is to it. In the coming weeks, we will have a strong team with an excellent leader in the classics. That's the conclusion we can draw after today's race."