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Kristoff will defend Katusha's chances in a sprint finish while Paolini will look to join any attacks on the final climbs

Photo: Tim De Waele

ALEKSANDR KUCHYNSKI

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ALEXANDER KRISTOFF

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ANGEL VICIOSO

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EDUARD VORGANOV

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KATUSHA ALPECIN

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LUCA PAOLINI

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MILANO - SANREMO

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VLADIMIR ISAICHEV

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XAVIER FLORENCIO

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15.03.2013 @ 09:21 Posted by Jesper Johannesen

On Sunday Milan-Sanremo kicks off the classics season in earnest. Katusha have revealed their selection and with Alexander Kristoff and Luca Paolini as captains they look to be competitive in all scenarios.

 

Katusha had a turbulent start to the season with their legal battle to get a WorldTour license. They finally debuted in the WorldTour in Paris-Nice and Tirreno-Adriatico, and with a 7th place for Simon Spilak in France and a 5th - plus a stage win - for its Joaquin Rodriguez in Italy, they got off to a solid start.

 

The Russian team will look to keep the ball rolling and prove their worth in the WorldTour when they line up in Milan for the first monument of the year, Milan-Sanremo. The race usually ends up as a battle between sprinters and attackers going clear over the Poggio climb, and the team looks to be ready for all possible outcomes.

 

Olympic bronze medallist Alexander Kristoff will be the team's options if it comes to a group sprint. The young Norwegian had a breakthrough season last year, and with his impressive performance in London and a 15th place in the Tour of Flanders he has the necessary toughness and endurance to be competitive in the classics. He had a terrible crash in the first stage of Paris-Nice, but fought through the pain to reach the finish 17.15 behind stage winner Nacer Bouhanni (FDJ). The next day he had recovered enough to participate in the bunch sprint. He managed to finish the race, and even if failed to get any personal result, he was climbing really well and looks to be ready for Sunday's battle.

 

Luca Paolini won the year's first big one-day race, the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, when he and Stijn Vandenbergh (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) were clearly the strongest riders in a hard-fought race. A fast-finisher himself, he has the ability to join the action in a bunch sprint, should Kristoff get dropped along the way, but he will most probably use his punch to join attacks on Poggio and Cipressa. He has been on the podium in Sanremo twice - with 3rd places in 2003 and 2006 - and with no less than 6 top 12-finishes he knows how to handle the tricky journey along the Mediterranean coast.

 

The captains will be joined by punchy riders Xavier Florencio and Angel Vivioso who could also figure in any attacking actions towards the end of the race, strong climber Eduard Vorganov, and rouleurs Maxim Belkov, Vladimir Isaychev and Aliaksandr Kuchynski. No team will have the same kind of experience in the car behind as 4-time winner Erik Zabel will be present as a sports director.

 

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

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