Cavendish coy on Milan-San Remo

Mark Cavendish is coy over his chances of winning a second Milan-San Remo title in Sunday’s one-day race.

In 2009, Cavendish became the second Briton to win the prestigious race, following Tom Simpson’s 1964 triumph.

The Etixx – Quick-Step rider said the 182 miles race – the longest of the year – was “the easiest to finish, but the hardest to win”.

The 106th staging of the Italian race marks the start of five weeks of one-day races known as the

Spring Classics.

The races, which are also held in northern France, Belgium and the Netherlands, pit riders against uneven roads and unpredictable weather.

In 2013 heavy snow forced race organisers to stop the race and bypass a climb before restarting it 54km closer to the finish line.

This year, rain is forecast for the morning as the riders head south out of Milan, with winds of around 30mph forecast for when the race reaches the Mediterranean coast.

Cavendish, who is one of the favourites to win the race, told Cycling Weekly: “There’s a handful of guys with a chance of winning, but more who believe they have a shot of winning, which is different to any other race.”

Last year’s winner, Alexander Kristoff, and Germany’s Andre Greipel will be among the Manxman’s main rivals if the race does end in a bunch sprint.

However, two climbs in the final 30km – the Cipressa and Poggio – can give riders like 2008 winner Fabian Cancellara and Slovakia’s Peter Sagan, who are stronger ascenders than the sprinters, a chance to make a decisive break.

Switzerland’s Cancellara, 34, who has also been a runner-up on three occasions, said: “The race can be won by a puncheur or it can be for sprinters, but I think I’ve always had cards to play.

“I can go with the attackers, I can go on the descent and I can have a go in the sprint. The more I ride it the better my cards are.”

Sagan, 25, has also finished runner-up, in 2013. He said: “Milan-San Remo is special and unpredictable due to many factors such as the length of the race and the tactical situations.

“All I can do is to try my best knowing that I’m backed by a strong and motivated team.”

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