Kristoff wins Milan-San Remo

Cancellara and Swift round out top three

Alexander Kristoff (Katusha) won the 105th Milan-San Remo taking the sprint ahead of Fabian Cancellara (Trek Factory Racing) and Ben Swift (Team Sky). He easily pulled away in the closing meters after a perfect leadout from his teammate Luca Paolini.

It was the biggest career win for Kristoff, who became the first Norwegian to win the race.

As expected, the race once again came down to a mass sprint, with most of the top names making it through to the end. However, Mark Cavendish (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) finished only fifth, last year's winner Gerald Ciolek (MTN Qhubeka) ninth, and heavy favourite Peter Sagan (Cannondale) only 10th in a rain-affected race that split and regrouped several times as the peloton tackled a more traditional looking edition of the race.

The top sprinters had all survived up until the foot of the final climb of the Poggio, at which point an attack from Vincenzo Nibali - who had attacked on the Cipressa - was neutralised. John Degenkolb unluckily punctured near the base of the climb but Team Sky, BMC and Belkin all attempted to split the field on the fast run-in to Sam Remo. It was Katusha who took control. Paolini powered to the front inside the final kilometre at a crucial moment when discipline and calmness were required.

Omega Pharma tried to position Cavendish on the right hand side and although he had enough power to overtake an fading Sacha Modolo, he was powerless to stop Kristoff from charging for the line in a sprint reminiscent of Oscar Friere's last win here in 2010.

Wet, wet, wet

The riders were served a taste of the conditions they would face during the race as they headed to the sign-in close to the Arco della Pace at the end of Corso Sempione. Showers and grey skies alternated in rapid frequency, with riders covered in rain jackets, leg warmers and gloves.

The riders rolled out from central Milan at 9:50 am as planned, with the official race start on the edge of the city in Via della Chiesa Rossa. With the 8.5km transfer and the 294km race route, the riders covered over 300km.

The roads and the Milan tram tracks were wet and slippery, with Jose Joaquin Rojas (Movistar) crashing. He hurt his elbow and was forced to quit the race before it had officially begun.

The attacks came as soon as the flag as dropped, with Maarten Tjallingii (Belkin), Jan Barta (Netapp-Endura) the first to jump away. David Millar (Garmin-Sharp) was keen to get in the move in what is his final Milan-San Remo. However he was chased down and teammate Nathan Haas jumped across as a breakaway of seven riders formed.

The peloton was looking for a controlled race and let the magnificent seven go and they quickly gained a minute. The seven were Matteo Bono (Lampre Merida), Haas (Garmin-Sharp), Nicola Boem (Bardiani-CSF), Antonio Parrinello (Androni Giocattoli), Tjallingii (Belkin), Barta (NetApp-Endura) and Marc de Maar (UnitedHealthCare).

By the time the riders reached Pavia, after 35km, the break already had a gap of seven minutes. It reached 10 minutes after 45km but then the peloton began to react, with the first hour of the race covered at 47.7km/h.

Cannondale led the pursuit, with additional help from several other teams. However occasional rain showers dampened their enthusiasm and soaked the riders. A hailstorm also hit the race on the gradual slopes of the Passo Turchino, with temperatures falling to 5 degrees Celsius, but the gradual climb up from the Lombardy plain did little to change the race.

The break emerged from the 180m long Passo Turchino tunnel with a lead of eight minutes and a view of the Mediterranean offered hope of a dry finale. However it was not to be and spring had not yet arrived on the Italian Riviera. The rain returned as the riders headed west along the Aurelia coast road. Eating and drinking would be as vital as riding a tactically perfect race.

Peter Sagan stopped for a mechanical problem but was soon on his way and his Cannondale team continued to work on the front, with help from Orica-GreenEdge, Giant-Shimano and Trek Factory Racing.

As the riders reached the 175km point of the race, with still more than 100km to go, Boem struggled at the back of the break with cramp. All the seven breakaway riders were fatigued and wet after making a huge effort together, an effort of glory and sacrifice for their teammates rather than of personal ambition.

Before the second feed zone, at 70km to go, the break was reduced to just five riders. First Boem was dropped, then Haas sat up after an unfortunate puncture. After five hours of racing, much of it in the rain, the average speed was still above 42km/h. The gap between the breakaway and the peloton was down to 6:00 as the first capi climb, the Capo Mele, neared.

The gap was under three minutes as the peloton hit the Capo Berta, with the break down to only three riders. The rain let up as the Cipressa approached but the roads were still wet, and it had rained so heavily at the finish that the road was covered with several inches of water, a potentially dangerous situation which organizers hastened to clear away.

The hard conditions took their toll, as reports came through that Omega Pharma-QuickStep was starting to lose its sprint train, although Cavendish was still holding on.

On the Cipressa, Bono was the first to be dropped. Some 1:30 behind them, Cannondale led the way up, stringing out the field and with riders falling off the back with regularity. Nibali took off with 25km to go and quickly picked up a lead on the winding wet road. In no time he had caught and passed Bono.

As the road rose, the gap to the initial break continued to fall. The bad weather didn't seem to bother Nibali, who calmly made his way up to the two remaining leaders, catching and passing them with 20km left.

More and more riders tried to jump away from the chasing group, but Cannondale did their best to hold things together with Alessandro De Marchi providing Sagan with crucial support. Nibali built his lead up to 49 seconds with 15km to go, as Tjallingii tried unsuccessfully to follow.

Sky moved up to the front of the chase, riding for Edvald Boasson Hagen, and the gap had fallen to 20 seconds with 10km - and the Poggio - still to go. Nibali had started to fade and at the foot of the climb; he only held a 13-second advantage.

Lotto led the furious chase, catching the Astana rider on the ascent with 9km to go, but it was Trek's Fabian Cancellara who took off next with Gregory Rast, along with Enrico Battaglin of Bardiani going clear. There was a brief volley from Gilbert but he was unable to make an impression as up ahead as Rast and Battaglin tried to forge clear. They were caught near the top of the climb and it was Lars Petter Nordhaug (Belkin) and Greg Van Avermaet (BMC) who attempted to split the field on the treacherous descent.

Andre Greipel had lost contact on the climb but bravely fought back before the run-in to the line.

With 2km to go, many of the top names were still there as the mass sprint was set up. Katusha led the way to the 1km marker. Gilbert shot up the left hand side, and Cavendish put in his shot, but it was Kristoff who took the win with the Norwegian pulling away in the closing meters for a convincing win.

Full Results

Elite men
# Rider Name (Country) Team Result
1 Alexander Kristoff (Nor) Team Katusha 6:55:56  
2 Fabian Cancellara (Swi) Trek Factory Racing    
3 Ben Swift (GBr) Team Sky    
4 Juan Jose Lobato Del Valle (Spa) Movistar Team    
5 Mark Cavendish (GBr) Omega Pharma - Quick-Step Cycling Team    
6 Sonny Colbrelli (Ita) Bardiani CSF    
7 Zdenek Stybar (Cze) Omega Pharma - Quick-Step Cycling Team    
8 Sacha Modolo (Ita) Lampre-Merida    
9 Gerald Ciolek (Ger) MTN - Qhubeka    
10 Peter Sagan (Svk) Cannondale    
11 Ramunas Navardauskas (Ltu) Garmin Sharp    
12 Salvatore Puccio (Ita) Team Sky    
13 Philippe Gilbert (Bel) BMC Racing Team    
14 Sebastian Langeveld (Ned) Garmin Sharp    
15 Lars Petter Nordhaug (Nor) Belkin-Pro Cycling Team    
16 Yoann Offredo (Fra)    
17 Francisco José Ventoso Alberdi (Spa) Movistar Team    
18 Daniele Bennati (Ita) Tinkoff-Saxo    
19 Grégory Rast (Swi) Trek Factory Racing    
20 Fabio Felline (Ita) Trek Factory Racing    
21 Sylvain Chavanel (Fra) IAM Cycling    
22 Davide Cimolai (Ita) Lampre-Merida    
23 Jurgen Roelandts (Bel) Lotto Belisol    
24 André Greipel (Ger) Lotto Belisol    
25 Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) BMC Racing Team    
26 Alexandre Pichot (Fra) Team Europcar 0:00:06  
27 Fabian Wegmann (Ger) Garmin Sharp 0:00:07  
28 Davide Appollonio (Ita) AG2R La Mondiale 0:00:34  
29 Edvald Boasson Hagen (Nor) Team Sky    
30 Filippo Pozzato (Ita) Lampre-Merida 0:00:40  
31 Thomas Leezer (Ned) Belkin-Pro Cycling Team 0:00:54  
32 Nicki Sörensen (Den) Tinkoff-Saxo    
33 Luca Paolini (Ita) Team Katusha 0:01:12  
34 Arnaud Demare (Fra) 0:01:22  
35 Tony Gallopin (Fra) Lotto Belisol    
36 Mauro Finetto (Ita) Yellow Fluo    
37 Bauke Mollema (Ned) Belkin-Pro Cycling Team 0:01:33  
38 Martijn Maaskant (Ned) Unitedhealthcare Professional Cycling Team 0:01:35  
39 John Degenkolb (Ger) Team Giant-Shimano 0:01:54  
40 Lloyd Mondory (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale 0:02:09  
41 Maarten Tjallingii (Ned) Belkin-Pro Cycling Team 0:02:38  
42 Adam Hansen (Aus) Lotto Belisol    
43 Enrico Battaglin (Ita) Bardiani CSF 0:03:14  
44 Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Astana Pro Team 0:03:15  
45 Jan Bakelants (Bel) Omega Pharma - Quick-Step Cycling Team    
46 Oscar Gatto (Ita) Cannondale    
47 Rinaldo Nocentini (Ita) AG2R La Mondiale 0:03:22  
48 Manuel Quinziato (Ita) BMC Racing Team 0:03:36  
49 Daryl Impey (RSA) Orica GreenEdge 0:03:50  
50 Kristian Sbaragli (Ita) MTN - Qhubeka 0:04:10  
51 Andriy Grivko (Ukr) Astana Pro Team    
52 Yaroslav Popovych (Ukr) Trek Factory Racing 0:05:08  
53 Marc Demaar (Ned) Unitedhealthcare Professional Cycling Team    
54 Simon Geschke (Ger) Team Giant-Shimano    
55 Jack Bauer (NZl) Garmin Sharp 0:05:23  
56 Thor Hushovd (Nor) BMC Racing Team 0:05:29  
57 Robert Förster (Ger) Unitedhealthcare Professional Cycling Team    
58 Dayer Uberney Quintana Rojas (Col) Movistar Team    
59 Francesco Chicchi (Ita) Yellow Fluo    
60 Mickael Delage (Fra) 0:05:34  
61 Marco Marcato (Ita) Cannondale 0:06:03  
62 Alessandro De Marchi (Ita) Cannondale 0:06:06  
63 Franco Pellizotti (Ita) Androni Giocattoli 0:06:20  
64 Manuel Belletti (Ita) Androni Giocattoli 0:06:23  
65 Bernhard Eisel (Aut) Team Sky    
66 Diego Rosa (Ita) Androni Giocattoli    
67 Cesare Benedetti (Ita) Team Netapp - Endura    
68 Heinrich Haussler (Aus) IAM Cycling    
69 Nikolay Trusov (Rus) Tinkoff-Saxo    
70 Hayden Roulston (NZl) Trek Factory Racing    
71 Nicolas Roche (Irl) Tinkoff-Saxo    
72 Sébastien Hinault (Fra) IAM Cycling 0:07:49  
73 Reinardt Janse Van Rensburg (RSA) Team Giant-Shimano    
74 Borut Bozic (Slo) Astana Pro Team 0:07:51  
75 Aliaksandr Kuchynski (Blr) Team Katusha 0:10:04  
76 Pavel Brutt (Rus) Team Katusha    
77 Kiel Reijnen (USA) Unitedhealthcare Professional Cycling Team    
78 Michael Matthews (Aus) Orica GreenEdge    
79 Klaas Lodewyck (Bel) BMC Racing Team    
80 Koen De Kort (Ned) Team Giant-Shimano    
81 Robert Wagner (Ger) Belkin-Pro Cycling Team    
82 Johan Le Bon (Fra)    
83 Maximiliano Ariel Richeze (Arg) Lampre-Merida    
84 Jos Van Emden (Ned) Belkin-Pro Cycling Team    
85 Matthieu Ladagnous (Fra)    
86 Dries Devenyns (Bel) Team Giant-Shimano    
87 Bob Jungels (Lux) Trek Factory Racing    
88 Jaco Venter (RSA) MTN - Qhubeka    
89 Svein Tuft (Can) Orica GreenEdge    
90 Roy Curvers (Ned) Team Giant-Shimano 0:11:42  
91 Jan Barta (Cze) Team Netapp - Endura    
92 Marcel Sieberg (Ger) Lotto Belisol    
93 Roger Kluge (Ger) IAM Cycling    
94 Luke Durbridge (Aus) Orica GreenEdge    
95 Yukiya Arashiro (Jpn) Team Europcar    
96 Alessandro Bazzana (Ita) Unitedhealthcare Professional Cycling Team    
97 Marco Coledan (Ita) Bardiani CSF    
98 Johan Van Summeren (Bel) Garmin Sharp    
99 Karsten Kroon (Ned) Tinkoff-Saxo    
100 Simon Clarke (Aus) Orica GreenEdge    
101 David Boucher (Fra) 0:14:33  
102 Bartosz Huzarski (Pol) Team Netapp - Endura    
103 Sylvester Szmyd (Pol) Movistar Team    
104 Merhawi Kudus Ghebremedhin (Eri) MTN - Qhubeka    
105 Tom Jelte Slagter (Ned) Garmin Sharp 0:17:59  
106 Kenny Robert Van Hummel (Ned) Androni Giocattoli    
107 Christopher Juul Jensen (Den) Tinkoff-Saxo    
108 Rick Flens (Ned) Belkin-Pro Cycling Team    
109 Christopher Jones (USA) Unitedhealthcare Professional Cycling Team    
110 Rafael Andriato (Bra) Yellow Fluo    
111 Laurent Didier (Lux) Trek Factory Racing    
112 Guillaume Bonnafond (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale    
113 Eugenio Alafaci (Ita) Trek Factory Racing    
114 Hugo Houle (Can) AG2R La Mondiale    
DNF Ignatas Konovalovas (Ltu) MTN - Qhubeka    
DNF Louis Meintjes (RSA) MTN - Qhubeka    
DNF Daniel Teklehaimanot (Eri) MTN - Qhubeka    
DNF Jay Robert Thomson (RSA) MTN - Qhubeka    
DNF Steve Chainel (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale    
DNF Patrick Gretsch (Ger) AG2R La Mondiale    
DNF Matteo Montaguti (Ita) AG2R La Mondiale    
DNF Omar Bertazzo (Ita) Androni Giocattoli    
DNF Marco Frapporti (Ita) Androni Giocattoli    
DNF Antonio Parrinello (Ita) Androni Giocattoli    
DNF Gianfranco Zilioli (Ita) Androni Giocattoli    
DNF Enrico Gasparotto (Ita) Astana Pro Team    
DNF Francesco Gavazzi (Ita) Astana Pro Team    
DNF Andrea Guardini (Ita) Astana Pro Team    
DNF Maxim Iglinsky (Kaz) Astana Pro Team    
DNF Alexey Lutsenko (Kaz) Astana Pro Team    
DNF Enrico Barbin (Ita) Bardiani CSF    
DNF Nicola Boem (Ita) Bardiani CSF    
DNF Marco Canola (Ita) Bardiani CSF    
DNF Filippo Fortin (Ita) Bardiani CSF    
DNF Stefano Pirazzi (Ita) Bardiani CSF    
DNF Jonathan Hivert (Fra) Belkin-Pro Cycling Team    
DNF Michael Schär (Swi) BMC Racing Team    
DNF Peter Velits (Svk) BMC Racing Team    
DNF Danilo Wyss (Swi) BMC Racing Team    
DNF Maciej Bodnar (Pol) Cannondale    
DNF Damiano Caruso (Ita) Cannondale    
DNF Alan Marangoni (Ita) Cannondale    
DNF Paolo Longo Borghini (Ita) Cannondale    
DNF William Bonnet (Fra)    
DNF Arthur Vichot (Fra)    
DNF Nathan Haas (Aus) Garmin Sharp    
DNF David Millar (GBr) Garmin Sharp    
DNF Stefan Denifl (Aut) IAM Cycling    
DNF Martin Elmiger (Swi) IAM Cycling    
DNF Matteo Pelucchi (Ita) IAM Cycling    
DNF Thomas Lövkvist (Swe) IAM Cycling    
DNF Diego Ulissi (Ita) Lampre-Merida    
DNF Matteo Bono (Ita) Lampre-Merida    
DNF Manuele Mori (Ita) Lampre-Merida    
DNF Luca Wackermann (Ita) Lampre-Merida    
DNF Lars Ytting Bak (Den) Lotto Belisol    
DNF Pim Ligthart (Ned) Lotto Belisol    
DNF Jelle Vanendert (Bel) Lotto Belisol    
DNF Andrey Amador Bakkazakova (CRc) Movistar Team    
DNF Jose Joaquin Rojas Gil (Spa) Movistar Team    
DNF Enrique Sanz (Spa) Movistar Team    
DNF Jasha Sütterlin (Ger) Movistar Team    
DNF Iljo Keisse (Bel) Omega Pharma - Quick-Step Cycling Team    
DNF Michal Kwiatkowski (Pol) Omega Pharma - Quick-Step Cycling Team    
DNF Alessandro Petacchi (Ita) Omega Pharma - Quick-Step Cycling Team    
DNF Mark Renshaw (Aus) Omega Pharma - Quick-Step Cycling Team    
DNF Matteo Trentin (Ita) Omega Pharma - Quick-Step Cycling Team    
DNF Brett Lancaster (Aus) Orica GreenEdge    
DNF Mathew Hayman (Aus) Orica GreenEdge    
DNF Jens Keukeleire (Bel) Orica GreenEdge    
DNF Bryan Coquard (Fra) Team Europcar    
DNF Jerome Cousin (Fra) Team Europcar    
DNF Tony Hurel (Fra) Team Europcar    
DNF Vincent Jerome (Fra) Team Europcar    
DNF Bryan Naulleau (Fra) Team Europcar    
DNF Bjorn Thurau (Ger) Team Europcar    
DNF Tom Stamsnijder (Ned) Team Giant-Shimano    
DNF Albert Timmer (Ned) Team Giant-Shimano    
DNF Vladimir Gusev (Rus) Team Katusha    
DNF Alexandr Kolobnev (Rus) Team Katusha    
DNF Gatis Smukulis (Lat) Team Katusha    
DNF Angel Vicioso Arcos (Spa) Team Katusha    
DNF Iker Camano Ortuzar (Spa) Team Netapp - Endura    
DNF David De La Cruz Melgarejo (Spa) Team Netapp - Endura    
DNF Zakkari Dempster (Aus) Team Netapp - Endura    
DNF Erick Rowsell (GBr) Team Netapp - Endura    
DNF Paul Voss (Ger) Team Netapp - Endura    
DNF Dario Cataldo (Ita) Team Sky    
DNF Christian Knees (Ger) Team Sky    
DNF Gabriel Rasch (Nor) Team Sky    
DNF Geraint Thomas (GBr) Team Sky    
DNF Roman Kreuziger (Cze) Tinkoff-Saxo    
DNF Michael Morkov (Den) Tinkoff-Saxo    
DNF Lucas Euser (USA) Unitedhealthcare Professional Cycling Team    
DNF Davide Frattini (Ita) Unitedhealthcare Professional Cycling Team    
DNF Daniele Colli (Ita) Yellow Fluo    
DNF Francesco Failli (Ita) Yellow Fluo    
DNF Simone Ponzi (Ita) Yellow Fluo    
DNF Matteo Rabottini (Ita) Yellow Fluo    
DNF Fabio Taborre (Ita) Yellow Fluo    


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