Spring is almost here!

The 110th edition of La Primavera – “the spring” – is almost upon us. On Saturday 23 March, Milan-Sanremo, the first Monument of the year, will be contested by some of the world’s best riders from all of the world’s best teams. It’s a unique event that holds a special status for riders and fans alike.

At 291km it’s the longest one-day race on the calendar, and after the classic sequence of the “Capi” – Capo Mele, Capo Cervo and Capo Berta – the last of its hill is the Poggio, at just 5km to go. The final 2km are on flat, smooth tarmac, allowing the ‘fast wheels’ opportunities ahead of the finish line on the Via Rome in San Remo. With or without help from the weather it tests all types of riders – and presents chances for all kinds of specialists.

The last three editions have seen the winner decided by a solo breakaway, a group breakaway and a bunch sprint. So it’s understandable that the teams all take a different strategy, and a squad to reflect that. It’s often also a hugely interesting tactical battle, and a race where teamwork can pay off… Michal Kwiatkowski, for example, always considers his 2017 triumph to be a victory for Team Sky.

Kwiatkowski won Strade-Bianche that year on the way to Milan-Sanremo and this year his preparation was being part of the successful Paris-Nice campaign that saw a podium 1-2-3 for Team Sky’s Egan Bernal, Movistar Team’s Nairo Quintana and Kwiatkowski. Elsewhere, the other ‘warm-up’ races saw Team Jumbo-Visma’s Wout van Aert claim a ‘White Roads’ podium spot and his teammate Primoz Roglic storm to his second stage race GC win of the year at Tirreno-Adriatico.

Here’s who to look out for in the squads:

Movistar Team lead with World Champion Alejandro Valverde and feature the experienced Classics specialist Jurgen Roelandts. Team Jumbo-Visma have drafted in sprinter Dylan Groenewegen (winner of the first two stages at Paris-Nice) in place of the injured Timo Roosen, alongside Belgain Wout van Aert. For Team Sky, look out for Kwiatkowski. And many people are excited to see what Romain Bardet can do at Milan-Sanremo after his steady GC 5th position at Paris-Nice for AG2R La Mondiale.