Milan-San Remo resulted in the second fastest edition on record for the 114-year-old Italian Monument, thanks to strong tailwinds on the Ligurian coast of the Mediterranean. A combination of those winds, good legs and extreme motivation propelled Mathieu van der Poel into the record books with the fastest time ever on the climb of the Poggio di Sanremo. His solo attack across the top of the final climb catapulted him to a solo victory on Via Roma.
Van der Poel blasted his way up the 3.7km Poggio in 5 minutes, 38 seconds. That was a robust eight full seconds faster than the previous record, 5:46, set by Italian Giorgia Furlan, who won the 1994 race. Furlan’s scorching time was almost bettered the next year by winner Laurent Jalabert, who covered the same climb in 5:49.
What made this year’s race exceptional was that a total of four riders broke Furlan’s record on the Poggio. As the Van der Poel sped up the ascent, he was part of a decisive breakaway, the other three riders fighting for the final two podium spots in the end – world time trial champion Filippo Ganna (Ineos Grenadiers), 2020 ‘La Classicissima’ winner Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma) and two-time Tour de France champion Tadej Pogačar (UAE Team Emirates).
While Van der Poel attacked at the top of the Poggio to record the fastest time, Ganna, Van Aert and Pogačar went over the top just two seconds back at 5:40. Ganna would finish second on the stage and Van Aert third.
“I think this is also maybe the only Monument where you can have a top five like this with stage racers like Pogačar, a world time trial champion and Hour Record holder like Ganna and of course Wout van Aert. So many riders can win it but only one does,” Van der Poel said.
Once across the finish line with the victory in hand, Van der Poel also etched his name in the long history of this year’s Milan-San Remo as the first Dutchman to win in 38 years and following his grandfather, Raymond Poulidor, for the same Monument win after 62 years.
“It’s a unique race because it’s a really difficult race to win. You don’t always win if you’re the strongest, so that makes it really special when you do win. Not a lot of riders have won solo, so I’m proud of my performance,” Van der Poel said after winning Milan-San Remo in his fourth attempt. He was third last year and fifth in 2021.
Van der Poel averaged 39.18 kph on the climb of the Poggio, and according to La Gazzetta della Sport he had an estimated average power output of 564 watts, or 7.5 watts/kg.
The Poggio measures just 3.7km in length and averages a mere 3.6% on its twisting slopes, but the severity hits riders in the closing stretch of one of the longest one-day races on the calendar and seven hours in the saddle. It was in 1960 that the Poggio was added as the decisive climb, giving the race its current flavour and the perennial battle between the attackers and the sprinters.
Overall, Van der Poel notched the second fastest overall speed on record, with an average speed of 45.773 kph. The fastest recorded time remains with Gianni Bugno, who averaged 45.806 kph in 1990.