- The first of cycling’s five Monuments rolls out on March 17, 2018.
- The flat course once again favors the sprinters, who have dominated the recent podiums.
- Peter Sagan is the heavy favorite (as usual these days). But is he worthy of wagering on at such short odds?
Milan-San Remo is the first of the Monuments, cycling’s five seminal one-day races. As has become custom in recent years, the 2018 course is relatively flat and favors the sprinters. In 2014, the feature climb was taken out of the route to make way for a new one, but it wasn’t deemed safe and was never added. Thus minor climbs and cobbles are all that stand between the fast-men and the finish. It’s no accident that most of the favorites are known for sprinting, and most of the previous winners (particularly since 2014) are as well.
You can find the odds below on BetWay. [See comprehensive review of BetWay.]
Odds & Analysis
- Peter Sagan: 11/4
- Fernando Gaviria: 6/1
- Alexander Kristoff: 8/1
- Michał Kwiatkowski: 10/1
- Elia Viviani: 12/1
- Arnaud Demare: 14/1
- John Degenkolb: 16/1
- Caleb Ewan: 18/1
- Greg Van Avermaet: 25/1
- Julian Alaphilippe: 25/1
Peter Sagan is the favorite, despite losing last year, because he’s the three-time defending world champion, the golden boy of world cycling, and the first rider in a very long time to have any measurable personality. The thinking goes that Sagan is fast enough to win from a bunch sprint and also good enough to attack the last few climbs and cobbles and open up a gap, so it’s not like the race has to pan out a certain way for him to win. He’s also very much on form. His performance on Stage 4 of the Tour Down Under surprised everyone, when he finished first on a hilly parcours that was supposed to be the bailiwick of skeletal climbers.
The other names on the list aren’t at nearly as short odds, reflecting that bike racing is a harsh, fickle mistress and one-day races especially so. Fernando Gaviria made huge breakthroughs at last year’s Giro d’Italia, winning four stages and establishing himself as one of the world’s premier sprinters. Michal Kwiatkowski was very impressive last year, and accomplished something very few others have managed: he beat Sagan to the line in an out-and-out sprint. Sure, Sagan didn’t have great position. That doesn’t make beating him any less impressive, and Kwiatkowski should get full credit, especially from bettors.
Alexander Kristoff was the first to win on the revised course, recording what was then the biggest victory of his career in 2014. He came second (to Sagan) in last year’s World Championships and is with a new team in 2018 (UAE Emirates), where he’ll be the team leader in the classics. They’ll be targeting this race as a chance to get an early win under their new name.
Speaking of riders switching teams, Elia Viviani (formerly of Team Sky) has switched to sprinter paradise Quick-Step, joining second-favorite Gaviria. The Olympic champion was frustrated by missing the Giro, and now he’s on one of the best sprinting teams in the world.
The winner of 2016’s Milan-San Remo, Arnaud Demare, is returning to try for two in a row. He’s adjusted his schedule to remain fresh and ready for the spring classics, so look for Demare to outperform expectations not only at Milan-San Remo but at the Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix as well. A well-rested sprinter is a happy sprinter, and escaping the grind of constant competition can do wonders for anyone, much less a previous winner.
Nobody had a more disappointing racing year in 2017 than John Degenkolb, and nobody’s off to a hotter start in 2018. The German won both of his first two races and is in fantastic shape. Degenkolb completes the set: with his inclusion, we have every Milan-San Remo winner since 2014 listed among the favorites. Degenkolb won the 2015 edition (and Paris-Roubaix) before being hit by a car and taking a long leave of absence to recover from injuries. It’s good to see him back in the pack; car accidents are nightmare fuel for cyclists, and recovering to compete (and win) at the highest level is hugely impressive.
Caleb Ewan is one of the youngest riders on the favorites list. He came tenth at Milan-San Remo last year, and won a stage at the 2017 Giro. He’s one of the most promising young sprinters in the world, and if he’s in good position heading to the line, he’ll be hard for anyone here to beat. His odds are reasonably long, which recognizes that his team isn’t the best in the field.
From there the list heads into true longshots.
These odds are a little too short on Peter Sagan, but not criminally so. He’s proven an uncanny ability to win and win consistently, and his form at the Tour Down Under was worrying for anyone thinking of betting against him. There might be an argument for eschewing the favorites list, taking a flyer on someone who isn’t a sprinter, and hoping inclement weather or some other factor rolls the dice on this race a little. That will also make you feel extremely dumb when Peter Sagan sprints to the win, though.