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"The fact that we have two leaders is positive because in that way we can anticipate different scenarios. Jürgen Roelandts is the better climber who can follow the others in the final, for me it’s about waiting to see if I g...

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ADAM HANSEN

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ANDRÉ GREIPEL

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FREDERIK WILLEMS

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GREGORY HENDERSON

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JURGEN ROELANDTS

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LOTTO SOUDAL

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MARCEL SIEBERG

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MILANO - SANREMO

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VICENTE REYNES

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15.03.2013 @ 20:27 Posted by Jesper Johannesen

Lotto-Belisol enters this year's Milan-Sanremo with a strong duo at the head. Jurgen Roelandts will join his fellow classics specialists in dangerous attacks while Andre Greipel will cover its bases in a sprint.

 

As one of the fastest sprinters in the world, Andre Greipel has long harboured ambitions for the biggest classic a sprinter can realistically target: the Milan-Sanremo. In his two previous attempts he has failed to get over the Cipressa and Poggio climbs among the best, but this year he hopes to finally show that he is more than a pure sprinter.

 

Actually, the big German handles smaller climbs pretty well, and his victory in the queen stage of the 2010 Eneco Tour in the Ardennes is testament to that. So far he has failed to handle the distance of the biggest classics, but he showed signs of an increased endurance in the Tirreno-Adriatico. He may have struggled in the race's sprints, but he was one of very few sprinters to finish the tough penultimate stage.

 

With his finishing speed, he is one of the very few with the ability to outsprint pre-race favourite Peter Sagan, but the German sprinter tries to avoid any pressure heading into the race.

 

“I don’t think I am one of the favourites for Milan-Sanremo," he said. "There are many others who can claim that position. There are no perfect conditions for Milan-Sanremo, and planning the race is a difficult task. (The climb of, ed.) La Manie usually causes a split in the peloton, and then the Cipressa and Poggio are decisive. As a team we don’t have to carry the weight of the race, but we have to try to sit in the front. Milan – Sanremo is a dream, but I hope to experience this year  if I am able to win the race."

 

Roelandts to attack

Greipel will be joined in the leadership role by Jurgen Roelandts. The strong Belgian leads a double life where he spends most of the time as a key part of Greipel's lead-out train while he also assumes the role as the team leader for the cobbled classics. With a stage win and an overall top 10 in the Tour Mediteraneen he has been in terrific form so far this season, and he featured in the finale of the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad. Most recently he impressed by winning the sprint of Chris Froome's group to end up 8th in the incredibly hard penultimate stage of the Tirreno-Adriatico.

 

On Sunday, the Belgian will have the task to follow attacks on the crucial Poggio climb, and Greipel sees the presence of Roelandts as a major strength of the team.

 

"The fact that we have two leaders is positive because in that way we can anticipate different scenarios," Greipel explained. "Jürgen Roelandts is the better climber who can follow the others in the final, for me it’s about waiting to see if I get over the Poggio in the front of the peloton.”

 

Harsh weather expected

With rain and cold forecasted for Sunday, sports director Marc Sergeant expects a hard race.

 

“Cold, rain, wind, that will probably be the ingredients for next Sunday," Sergeant said. "Such weather conditions will of course play a role. Headwind means a slower race and more chances for the sprinters, but 300 kilometers in the rain mean that there will be a lot of exhausted riders. And bad weather increases the chance that escapees from a long breakaway will survive although that only happens once in fifteen years."

 

With Greipel trying to survive the climbs, Lotto will not try to create a hard race. Instead, the team will surround its leaders to put them in the best possible position at the bottom of the main challenges. Sergeant expects the likes of Peter Sagan (Cannondale), Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) and Philippe Gilbert (BMC) to use their teams to wear out the sprinters, especially on the race's hardest climb, the Le Manie.

 

" I expect a controlled race again, in which the teams of the favourites - Cannondale, Astana and BMC - will carry the weight of the race," he explained. "La Manie has caused a serious selection the past few years, and we have to survive it with as many riders as possible to bring Greipel and Roelandts in perfect conditions into the final.”

 

The two team leaders will be joined by strong rouleurs Lars Bak, Adam Hansen, Vicente Reynes and Frederik Willems while lead-out riders Marcel Sieberg and Gregory Henderson will round out the line-up.

 

You can follow Greipel's and Roelandts' exploits live on CyclingQuotes.com/live on Sunday starting at 14.30. Until then you can prepare for the race by studying our preview.

 

Lotto-Belisol for Milan-Sanremo

Andre Greipel, Jurgen Roelandts, Lars Bak, Greg Henderson, Marcel Sieberg, Frederik Willems, Vicente Reynes and Adam Hansen

 

 

 

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