Milan-San Remo 2014: Mark Cavendish predicts open race that 'anyone can win'
Last Updated: 21/03/14 12:05pm
Mark Cavendish believes any one of the 200 starters at Sunday’s Milan-San Remo could claim victory.
The 294km Classic is the first of the season’s five Monuments and the longest one-day race on the professional calendar.
This year’s route had looked set to favour punchy climbers until landslides forced a key ascent to be excluded, meaning the advantage is back with sprinters.
Cavendish, who won the race in 2009, is one of the favourites to win, but the Omega Pharma – Quick-Step rider insists the race remains both unpredictable and wide open.
He said: "There are so many variables at Milano-San Remo, and that is what makes it beautiful. It is not an easy race just because it ends in a sprint.
“There are 200 guys on the start line that can possibly win. It's not like that at any other race. It is a long race, the easiest to finish, but the hardest to win.”
Although the steep Pompeiana ascent has been removed from the route, two legendary climbs are still in place to ensure a nailbiting finale.
The 5.6km Cipressa summits 22km from the finish, while the 3.7km Poggio tops out with just over 6km to go.
The Poggio, in particular, is likely to be the scene of a battle between attackers looking to avoid a sprint finish and sprinters trying desperately to stay in contention.
Cavendish added: “This year, for me, the race goes how it goes. I might win it, and that is why I'm riding. I might get dropped, and I might not. If it comes to a sprint, I'm the best opportunity we [Omega Pharma – Quick-Step ] have if it comes to that.
“If I don't race this year, I might regret it. I had a win in 2009 and a top 10 last year - there is always that possibility.”