Alaphilippe wins Milan-San Remo

Naesen and Kwiatkowski finish on podium

It may have been the first Monument of the season, but the story was the one we’ve seen so often already this year. Some 175 men fought for half the day to win a bike race, and Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck-QuickStep) ended up on the top step of the podium.

Milan-San Remo is the seventh victory of the season for the Frenchman, and the 19th for his team - no doubt the sweetest yet. Part of an elite group contesting the win in San Remo, Alaphilippe beat Oliver Naesen (AG2R La Mondiale) and Michał Kwiatkowski (Team Sky) to the top spot after a tense sprint to the line.

The Frenchman had played a major part in forming the elite group that made it to the finish, launching an attack over the top of Poggio and bringing a number of the strongest men in the sport with him. Peter Sagan, Alejandro Valverde, Vincenzo Nibali and Kwiatkowski – they were all there – but it was Matteo Trentin (Mitchelton-Scott) and Matej Mohorič (Bahrain-Merida) who tried to make their mark on the run-in to the finish.

Both were caught, however, setting up the battle royal sprint to the line. Mohorič went again, flying past Sagan, who led the way to the line. Alaphilippe masterfully switched wheels before heading into the wind himself after seven hours in the saddle. Another win for the 26-year-old, his best yet.

“It’s difficult to realise what I did and what my team did,” Alaphilippe reflected after the race. “They protected me all day. Tim Declercq was pulling all race and in the final we controlled and made the race harder, and I had to do no mistakes.

“I was really focused to control the attacks, and with 600 metres to go when Mohorič went to attack I said ‘it’s now or never’. It’s unbelievable – I saw my teammates after the finish and everybody was crying.

“I made a big effort at the top of the Poggio to make a big selection, and to see what could happen. At the end I was only with strong riders and I tried to recover in the downhill. In the last two kilometres I said I want to win – no second place.

“I need time to realise [what I’ve achieved]. I’m very happy.”

How it happened

The riders signed under warm spring sunshine in the shadow of the Castello Sforzesco in the centre of Milan, happy to race in spring-like conditions after a rain-soaked start in 2018.

The 2018 winner Vincenzo Nibali, and world champion Alejandro Valverde, lined up at the head of the race, while the likes of Sagan, Fernando Gaviria and Caleb Ewan preferred to stay out of the spotlight and lined up at the back of the peloton. All 175 riders on the start list signed on and started the 110th edition of Milan-San Remo.

The riders always consider Milan-San Remo a 300km race because they include the 7.5km neutralised sector out of central Milan as kilometres in the saddle. The official start is at an anonymous point on the Via della Chiesa Rossa that heads south out of Milan.

As soon as the flag dropped, the attacks to go into the early break began. But with the peloton facing seven hours in the saddle, 10 riders were quickly given their freedom and a moment in the Milan-San Remo spotlight.

The 10 were Fausto Masnada (Androni Giocattoli), Mirco Maestri, Alessandro Tonelli (both Bardiani CSF), Guy Sagiv (Israel Cycling Academy), Luca Raggio, Sebastian Schönberger (both Neri Sottoli) with Joonas Henttala, Andrea Peron, Charles Planet and Umberto Poli all there for Novo Nordisk.

The peloton let them go and they opened a one-minute gap in 10km. After 30km, the gap was up to 10 minutes, but that was the maximum the peloton allowed before upping the pace and starting to control the breakaway. The average speed for the first hour on the Lombardy plane near Pavia and the River Po was a quick 44.4km/h.

A number of teams agreed to share the work, with Adam Hansen riding for Lotto Soudal, Tim Declercq for Deceuninck-QuickStep, while UAE Team Emirates and Bora-Hansgrohe also helped with the hard graft. The gap to the break began to fall as the Passo del Turchino began to loom on the horizon.

Nathan Van Hooydonck of the CCC Team was the first rider to abandon after Novi Ligure as the 100km sign approached. The first feed zone came after 134km as the gradient of the Passo del Turchino began to hurt just a little. The break reached the 120-metre long tunnel at the summit with a lead of 5:50 and dived down to the sun soaked Mediterranean coast.

With 154km covered, there was 137km left to race along the coast west to San Remo. The break worked smoothly together, desperate to maintain as much of their lead as possible. The gap was 5:45 with 100km to go but the peloton gradually upped the pace as the tension rose and the kilometres clicked down.

The break reached the second feed in Ceriale after 221km with their lead down to 3:30. Musettes were grabbed quickly as the speed stayed high. There was time to take on fresh bidons and some final food before the final of Milan-San Remo began on the Capi climbs.

The Capo Mele comes the first with 51km to go. The difference between the 10-rider break and the peloton was clearly noticeable, and the gap fell below 2:30 for the first time. The Capo Cervo caused no problem but the break fell apart on the harder Capo Berta when Schönberger attacked with 40km to go. But the peloton was rapidly closing them down, hitting the Capo Berta at 62km/h.

Masnada hunted down the pursuing Bardiani CSF riders before passing Schönberger and cresting the summit of the Berta alone. He had the now-traditional flare cloud to battle through, with the smoke wafting in a direction indicating a cross-headwind along the coast.

Hitting the bottom of the Cipressa, with 27km to race, Masnada was alone as the peloton swallowed up the remains of the break. His brave effort lasted until around halfway up the climb, before he too was swept up as Astana and Groupama-FDJ led the way.

The pace was perhaps not as high as it could be on the Cipressa, with the peloton not lined out. Some of the more climb-averse sprinters would certainly have been happy with how things were progressing, at least, though Dylan Groenewegen (Jumbo-Visma) and Nacer Bouhanni (Cofidis) looked to be hanging on at the rear of the group.

Local boy Niccolò Bonifazio (Direct Énergie) launched a daring attack on the descent, racing the lead motorbike down to the flat road before to the Poggio. He had a 20-second advantage at the bottom, but was caught before reaching the foot of the Poggio.

Team Sky and Deceuninck-QuickStep led the way onto the final hill of the race, setting a high pace for their men, Kwiatkowski and Alaphilippe. The first attack came seven kilometres out as Alberto Bettiol (EF Education First) launched.

Alaphilippe soon followed, with Kwiatkowski and Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) in close pursuit. Cresting the summit, the trio were together with Trentin, Valverde, Naesen and Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma).

Several more riders chased on down the descent, including Tom Dumoulin (Team Sunweb), Mohorič, Nibali (both Bahrain-Merida), and Simon Clarke (EF Education First).

Trentin tried a solo move on the flat, but was chased down by race debutant Van Aert under the flamme rouge. Mohorič went next, 800 metres from the line, before a relative lull in the proceedings as the contenders looked around for the next move.

Sagan hit the front in the final 500 metres, with Alaphilippe glued to his wheel before the brief game of cat and mouse ended as Mohorič went for it again. In a flash, Alaphilippe switched wheels, getting to Mohorič before Naesen could.

In the final 150 metres, Alaphilippe hit the wind once again, as he had on the Poggio. This time, though, he wouldn’t be caught. As it has been so many times already this season, it was just a question of who would be the runner-up.


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Full Results

#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Julian Alaphilippe (Fra) Deceuninck-QuickStep6:40:14 
2Oliver Naesen (Bel) AG2R La Mondiale  
3Michal Kwiatkowski (Pol) Team Sky  
4Peter Sagan (Svk) Bora-Hansgrohe  
5Matej Mohoric (Slo) Bahrain-Merida  
6Wout Van Aert (Bel) Team Jumbo-Visma  
7Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar Team  
8Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Bahrain-Merida  
9Simon Clarke (Aus) EF Education First  
10Matteo Trentin (Ita) Mitchelton-Scott  
11Tom Dumoulin (Ned) Team Sunweb0:00:03 
12Michael Matthews (Aus) Team Sunweb0:00:08 
13Daniel Oss (Ita) Bora-Hansgrohe0:00:24 
14Alexander Kristoff (Nor) UAE Team Emirates0:00:27 
15Magnus Cort (Den) Astana  
16Fernando Gaviria (Col) UAE Team Emirates  
17Marco Haller (Aut) Katusha-Alpecin  
18Mike Teunissen (Ned) Team Jumbo-Visma  
19Davide Ballerini (Ita) Astana Pro Team  
20Giacomo Nizzolo (Ita) Dimension Data  
21Amund Grondahl Jansen (Nor) Team Jumbo-Visma  
22Davide Cimolai (Ita) Israel Cycling Academy  
23Julien Simon (Fra) Cofidis, Solutions Credits  
24Clement Venturini (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale  
25Luka Mezgec (Slo) Mitchelton-Scott  
26Reinardt Janse Van Rensburg (RSA) Dimension Data  
27Nils Politt (Ger) Katusha-Alpecin  
28Sam Bennett (Irl) Bora-Hansgrohe  
29Caleb Ewan (Aus) Lotto Soudal  
30Jean-Pierre Drucker (Lux) Bora-Hansgrohe  
31Simone Velasco (Ita) Neri Sottoli-Selle Italia-KTM  
32Arnaud Demare (Fra) Groupama-FDJ  
33Matteo Montaguti (Ita) Androni Giocattoli-Sidermec  
34Gianluca Brambilla (Ita) Trek-Segafredo  
35Krists Neilands (Lat) Israel Cycling Academy  
36Alberto Bettiol (Ita) EF Education First  
37Enrico Battaglin (Ita) Katusha-Alpecin  
38Lilian Calmejane (Fra) Direct Energie  
39Jos van Emden (Ned) Team Jumbo-Visma  
40Roman Kreuziger (Cze) Dimension Data  
41Anthony Turgis (Fra) Direct Energie  
42Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) CCC Team  
43Sonny Colbrelli (Ita) Bahrain-Merida  
44Lawson Craddock (USA) EF Education First  
45Tao Geoghegan Hart (GBr) Team Sky  
46Nicolas Roche (Irl) Team Sunweb  
47Dario Cataldo (Ita) Astana Pro Team  
48Marc Hirschi (Swi) Team Sunweb  
49Enrico Gasparotto (Ita) Dimension Data  
50Romain Bardet (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale  
51Tom-Jelte Slagter (Ned) Dimension Data  
52Soren Kragh Andersen (Den) Team Sunweb  
53Jens Keukeleire (Bel) Lotto Soudal  
54Sven Erik Bystrom (Nor) UAE Team Emirates  
55Jacopo Guarnieri (Ita) Groupama-FDJ0:00:35 
56Niki Terpstra (Ned) Direct Energie  
57Stephen Cummings (GBr) Dimension Data  
58Alessandro De Marchi (Ita) CCC Team0:01:01 
59Stefan Kung (Swi) Groupama-FDJ0:01:15 
60Laurens De Vreese (Bel) Astana Pro Team  
61Christophe Laporte (Fra) Cofidis, Solutions Credits  
62Nacer Bouhanni (Fra) Cofidis, Solutions Credits  
63Carlos Barbero (Spa) Movistar Team  
64Marcus Burghardt (Ger) Bora-Hansgrohe  
65Elia Viviani (Ita) Deceuninck-QuickStep0:01:27 
66Yves Lampaert (Bel) Deceuninck-QuickStep  
67Zdenek Stybar (Cze) Deceuninck-QuickStep  
68Philippe Gilbert (Bel) Deceuninck-QuickStep  
69Kristian Sbaragli (Ita) Israel Cycling Academy0:01:29 
70Larry Warbasse (USA) AG2R La Mondiale  
71Tom Van Asbroeck (Bel) Israel Cycling Academy  
72Diego Ulissi (Ita) UAE Team Emirates  
73Marco Marcato (Ita) UAE Team Emirates  
74Viacheslav Kuznetsov (Rus) Katusha-Alpecin  
75Cyril Lemoine (Fra) Cofidis, Solutions Credits  
76Jose Goncalves (Por) Katusha-Alpecin  
77Umberto Marengo (Ita) Neri Sottoli-Selle Italia-KTM  
78Dylan Groenewegen (Ned) Team Jumbo-Visma  
79Jasper Stuyven (Bel) Trek-Segafredo0:01:33 
80Matteo Busato (Ita) Androni Giocattoli-Sidermec0:01:36 
81Sacha Modolo (Ita) EF Education First0:01:54 
82Edward Theuns (Bel) Trek-Segafredo0:02:06 
83Toms Skujins (Lat) Trek-Segafredo0:02:13 
84John Degenkolb (Ger) Trek-Segafredo0:02:37 
85Manuel Belletti (Ita) Androni Giocattoli-Sidermec0:02:39 
86Lukasz Wisniowski (Pol) CCC Team0:02:54 
87Taco van der Hoorn (Ned) Team Jumbo-Visma  
88Yevgeniy Gidich (Kaz) Astana Pro Team  
89Anthony Roux (Fra) Groupama-FDJ  
90Giovanni Carboni (Ita) Bardiani CSF  
91Carlos Betancur (Col) Movistar Team0:03:11 
92Dorian Godon (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale  
93Luis Mas Bonet (Spa) Movistar Team  
94Tomasz Marczynski (Pol) Lotto Soudal  
95Danny van Poppel (Ned) Team Jumbo-Visma  
96Francesco Gavazzi (Ita) Androni Giocattoli-Sidermec  
97Manuele Boaro (Ita) Astana Pro Team  
98Jonas Gregaard Wilsly (Den) Astana Pro Team  
99Gijs Van Hoecke (Bel) CCC Team  
100Tosh Van Der Sande (Bel) Lotto Soudal  
101Mattia Cattaneo (Ita) Androni Giocattoli-Sidermec  
102Maximiliano Richeze (Arg) Deceuninck-QuickStep  
103Luke Rowe (GBr) Team Sky  
104Oscar Gatto (Ita) Bora-Hansgrohe  
105Sebastian Langeveld (Ned) EF Education First  
106Heinrich Haussler (Aus) Bahrain-Merida0:03:39 
107Kristijan Koren (Slo) Bahrain-Merida0:03:51 
108Nikolas Maes (Bel) Lotto Soudal0:04:46 
109Reto Hollenstein (Swi) Katusha-Alpecin0:05:22 
110Koen de Kort (Ned) Trek-Segafredo0:05:26 
111Michael Schar (Swi) CCC Team  
112Salvatore Puccio (Ita) Team Sky  
113Christopher Juul Jensen (Den) Mitchelton-Scott0:05:27 
114Filippo Ganna (Ita) Team Sky0:06:31 
115Owain Doull (GBr) Team Sky  
116Marcel Sieberg (Ger) Bahrain-Merida  
117Roger Kluge (Ger) Lotto Soudal  
118Julius van den Berg (Ned) EF Education First  
119Daryl Impey (RSA) Mitchelton-Scott  
120Robert Stannard (Aus) Mitchelton-Scott  
121Matthieu Ladagnous (Fra) Groupama-FDJ  
122Ignatas Konovalovas (Ltu) Groupama-FDJ  
123Zico Waeytens (Bel) Cofidis, Solutions Credits  
124Guillaume Van Keirsbulck (Bel) CCC Team  
125Marco Frapporti (Ita) Androni Giocattoli-Sidermec  
126Fausto Masnada (Ita) Androni Giocattoli-Sidermec  
127Luca Pacioni (Ita) Neri Sottoli-Selle Italia-KTM  
128Bernhard Eisel (Aut) Dimension Data  
129Nans Peters (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale  
130Jerome Cousin (Fra) Direct Energie  
131Niccolo Bonifazio (Ita) Direct Energie  
132Mads Schmidt Wurtz (Den) Katusha-Alpecin0:07:45 
133Matthias Brandle (Aut) Israel Cycling Academy  
134Roy Curvers (Ned) Team Sunweb0:10:18 
135Conor Dunne (Irl) Israel Cycling Academy  
136Guy Sagiv (Isr) Israel Cycling Academy  
137Sebastian Schonberger (Aut) Neri Sottoli-Selle Italia-KTM  
138David Lozano Riba (Spa) Team Novo Nordisk  
139Joonas Henttala (Fin) Team Novo Nordisk  
140Charles Planet (Fra) Team Novo Nordisk  
141PŽter Kusztor (Hun) Team Novo Nordisk  
142Mirco Maestri (Ita) Bardiani CSF  
143Umberto Orsini (Ita) Bardiani CSF  
144Daniele Bennati (Ita) Movistar Team  
145Michal Golas (Pol) Team Sky  
146Markel Irizar (Spa) Trek-Segafredo  
147Mikel Landa (Spa) Movistar Team  
148Olivier Le Gac (Fra) Groupama-FDJ  
149Jurgen Roelandts (Bel) Movistar Team  
150Jasper Philipsen (Bel) UAE Team Emirates0:13:56 
151Julien Duval (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale  
152Tim Declercq (Bel) Deceuninck-QuickStep0:14:42 
153Bert Van Lerberghe (Bel) Cofidis, Solutions Credits  
154Oliviero Troia (Ita) UAE Team Emirates  
155Kenneth Vanbilsen (Bel) Cofidis, Solutions Credits  
156Paul Ourselin (Fra) Direct Energie  
157Sam Brand (GBr) Team Novo Nordisk  
158Alessandro Tonelli (Ita) Bardiani CSF  
159Fabien Grellier (Fra) Direct Energie  
160Daniel McLay (GBr) EF Education First  
161Andrea Peron (Ita) Team Novo Nordisk  
162Giovanni Visconti (Ita) Neri Sottoli-Selle Italia-KTM  
163Luca Raggio (Ita) Neri Sottoli-Selle Italia-KTM  
164Edoardo Affini (Ita) Mitchelton-Scott  
165Umberto Poli (Ita) Team Novo Nordisk0:19:25 
166Michael Hepburn (Aus) Mitchelton-Scott0:20:53 
167Alessandro Pessot (Ita) Bardiani CSF  
168Adam Hansen (Aus) Lotto Soudal  
DNFDylan Teuns (Bel) Bahrain-Merida  
DNFVincenzo Albanese (Ita) Bardiani CSF  
DNFLorenzo Rota (Ita) Bardiani CSF  
DNFMaciej Bodnar (Pol) Bora-Hansgrohe  
DNFNathan Van Hooydonck (Bel) CCC Team  
DNFLiam Bertazzo (Ita) Neri Sottoli-Selle Italia-KTM  
DNFCasper Pedersen (Den) Team Sunweb  

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