Is this the best ever British line-up for Milan-San Remo?

Nine British riders set to start Milan-San Remo on Sunday, including pre-race favourites Mark Cavendish and Ben Swift

Nine British riders will take part in this Sunday’s Milan-San Remo, widely recognised as the first major one-day race of the 2015 season.

Among those nine Brits are two team leaders with a very real possibility of success in winning the prestigious Italian event that winds its way south along the coast on a gruelling 293-kilometre route peppered with testing climbs towards its finale.

Mark Cavendish will be one of two options for Belgian team Etixx-QuickStep alongside current world champion Michal Kwiatkowski. Cavendish won the race in 2009 and is clearly on startlingly good form, having already taken six victories this year including the Dubai Tour overall and Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne. If the race comes down to a sprint and Cavendish is in there, he is always going to be a factor, particularly with the restoration of the race’s ‘classic’ Via Roma finish.

Ben Swift leads a strong Sky line-up after placing third in the race last year. Swift is joined by a top-performing cast, including four other British riders. On the provisional start list for Sky is Het Nieuwsblad winner Ian Stannard and Volta ao Algarve champion Geraint Thomas, along with Luke Rowe and Andy Fenn. That’s a considerable amount of firepower. Although Thomas and Stannard may be eyeing the northern classics a little later in the season, they will serve as super-strong domestiques.

Steve Cummings (MTN-Qhubeka) will line up for MTN-Qhubeka in a team that includes 2013 Milan-San Remo winner Gerald Ciolek. Cummings looked in peak form during last week’s Tirreno-Adriatico, where he finished in sixth place overall – just one second behind Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo). Cummings’ climbing and time trialling strength during Tirreno point to him being able to keep up with the best during the race.

Completing the collection of British riders, 22 year old Simon Yates (Orica-GreenEdge) will have his first taste of Milan-San Remo, and Alex Dowsett (Movistar) makes an appearance having recently recovered from a fractured collarbone that scuppered his Hour Record attempt in February.

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