The yearly seven-hour battle between the sprinters and puncheurs that is Milan-San Remo has once again come and gone, and for 2019 we can strike another one up to the latter – the third in a row for that most versatile of rider groupings.
Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck-Quick Step) was the man to continue the mini-streak on Saturday afternoon, pulling off a masterful display in the finale. The Frenchman was ably aided by his powerful Quick Step team on the final climb of the day, the legendary Poggio, before launching over the top.
He wasn’t alone though – far from it, in fact. The best of the best had joined him, with the last two winners Michał Kwiatkowski (Team Sky) and Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain-Merida) up there, along with legends of the modern era Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) and Alejandro Valverde (Movistar), among others.
After navigating the potential treachery of the Poggio descent, there were attacks to deal with, first in the form of Matteo Trentin’s (Mitchelton-Scott) bid and then when the young Slovene Matej Mohorič (Bahrain-Merida) went for glory in the final kilometre.
But they were dealt with, and then it was Alaphilippe who was sitting pretty as the finishing line, decked in the garish orange of race sponsor NamedSport, loomed. First he sat on Sagan’s wheel, then Oliver Naesen’s (AG2R La Mondiale), then nobody’s.
That was the race, the first Monument victory of Alaphilippe’s five-year-old pro career. Naesen trailed in second, while Kwiatkowski earned a place on the last step of the podium. 87 seconds later, Alaphilippe’s teammates crossed the line together, hailing a masterclass.
Watch highlights of the action above.