Up-and-coming Belgian sprinter Arnaud De Lie has opted for a radically different stance to the peloton’s usual hopes for good weather in Milan-San Remo and will be crossing his fingers for rain and snow next Saturday in northern Italy.
Already a notable second on his debut at Omloop Het Nieuwsblad last month, De Lie will be racing the Italian Monument for the first time in his career this weekend, just two days before he turns 21.
And as he told Belgian newspaper La Dèrnière Heure (opens in new tab), he’s hoping for similarly foul racing conditions to the infamous snow-blighted edition of Milan-San Remo 2013.
“That’s not what they’d like in the team, but me, I’d prefer the weather to be bad and even rain, I go much better in the rain,” De Lie said. “Yes, rain, and snow too, on Saturday – that’d be good for me.”
De Lie has checked out the San Remo finale twice, once in early February and again last weekend after he abandoned Paris-Nice. Speaking to La Dernière Heure shortly after he quit the French stage race, he said his final build up for La Primavera was for two hard training sessions on Monday and Wednesday, then to have two days of rest prior to the event itself.
With the Milan-San Remo route taking in almost 300km in a single day, the race will be the longest race De Lie has ever done, but he denied that he would be daunted by that.
“No, no, it’s 40 minutes more than Plouay or Gent-Wevelgem, races I’ve already done. I’m going to close my eyes and not think about those 40 extra minutes.”
“We’ll have a good team, with Pascal Eenkhoorn, Jacopo Guarnieri and Frederik Frison, for example. But it won’t be up to us to control the race, we should just use our riders to make sure we’re well-placed for Capo Berta, which is the hardest of the three capi.”
“Then we have to be in a good position again for the Cipressa, and I hope, if they’re still up there, before the Poggio. If you’re where you should be at those points, then it comes down to having good legs. Without good legs, there’s no chance of you getting over the Cipressa successfully and even less chance of getting over the Poggio.”
Apart from looking after De Lie, Lotto-Dstny’s main goal will be to take care of Caleb Ewan, and the question of how the team will handle two sprinters in the same line-up, one a double San Remo podium finisher and one a race rookie, will likely only become clear on the day itself.
But De Lie argues in any case that there is “little chance” of both he and Ewan ending…
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