With 2015 Milan-San Remo winner John Degenkolb and Trek-Segafredo back-up plan Giacomo Nizzolo both out of this year’s race due to illness and injury, leadership duties for the season’s first Monument fall on Jasper Stuyven, whose biggest Spring win to date came in 2016 at Kuurne-Brussell-Kuurne.
The 25-year-old Belgian was 39th in Milan-San Remo last year, finishing in the field behind the three-rider move of winner Michal Kwiatkowski (Team Sky), runner-up Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) and third-placed Julian Alaphilippe (Quick-Step Floors), but the reigns of team leadership are his this year despite only starting the race once before.
“I don’t think it’s a disadvantage that this is only my second participation in Milan-San Remo,” Stuyven said at the Trek-Segafredo press conefence on the eve of the race.
“I did it last year, we did a recon earlier this week, so I have the final again fresh in my mind. It might be more difficult to predict how the other teams will race, but in fact that’s something you have to see during the race itself. That’s not a Milan-San Remo specific thing.”
Stuyven may be a relative newcomer to Milan-San Remo and its nearly 300km of racing, but he’s no stranger to hard, difficult days. Stuyven finished fourth in Paris-Roubaix last year, making the final five-rider group that included winner Greg Van Avermaet (BMC Racing), Zdenek Stybar (Quick-Step Floors), Sebastian Langeveld (Cannondale-Drapac) and Gianni Moscon (Team Sky).
Stuyven was fourth in Omloop Het Nieuwsblad last month, and in Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne he jumped away from the lead group with Daniel Oss at the top of the Nokereberg, eventually shedding Oss and continuing on solo until the peloton brought him back with 18km to go.
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