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Kwiatkowski wins Strade Bianche

Daniel Benson

Polish champion drops Sagan on final climb

Michal Kwiatkowski (Omega Pharma-QuickStep) claimed the biggest one-day race victory of his career in Strade Bianche, distancing breakaway companion Peter Sagan (Cannondale) on the final climb to the finish with a blistering attack.

Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) rounded out the podium to take third place.

"I didn't expect to drop him," Kwiatkowski said after he crossed the line.

"I knew the final pretty well. As a team we were so good today, we had five riders in the front with 50km to go and we controlled the race. I can't describe how I feel. Winning in Siena is an amazing feeling.

"I didn't have any problems in the winter and was focused on my work. I started late compared to last year but I'm really happy with my condition."

Kwiatkowski and Sagan, clearly the two strongest riders in the race, broke clear with 21km remaining after a dangerous move including Cadel Evans (BMC) and Ian Stannard (Team Sky) was caught inside the final 30 kilometres.

Sagan, who was riding with little team support in the final 50 kilometres, was the first to attack, with Kwiatkowski the only one capable of bridging across to the Cannondale rider.

From there the pair set about building on an advantage that peaked at over one minute over the final three sections of gravel roads ahead of the finish in Siena.

Alejandro Valverde, Fabian Cancellara (Trek Factory Racing), Damiano Cunego (Lampre-Merida) and Roman Kreuziger (Tinkoff-Saxo), who all had no answer when the leading pair broke clear, formed a late chasing move but they were unable to reel back the two leaders.

Approaching the final climb, and with Sagan and Kwiatkowski working well together throughout their break, it was the Slovak champion who lead onto the final ascent with the gradient rising to over 16 percent. However, Sagan, who has been subject to numerous transfer stories in recent weeks, had no answer when the Polish champion unleashed a ferocious attack.

Four-man early escape

Earlier in the race Marco Frapporti (Androni Giocattoli), Marco Canola (Bardiani-CSF), Davide Frattini (UnitedHealthcare) and Andrea Fedi (Yellow Fluo) formed the early break, with the foursome quickly establishing a lead close to 11 minutes.

At the half-way point the lead dropped to just under eight minutes, with the majority of the difficult gravel sections still to come. Filippo Pozzato (Lampre-Merida) was a high-profile retiree, pulling out at the feed zone, but Sagan, Evans, Kwiatkowski and last year's winner Moreno Moser (Cannondale) were still in contention with 70 kilometres remaining.

Kwiatkowski punctured on the sixth section of dirt roads but the Pole was quickly paced back to the peloton just as the favourites began to play their hands.

Team Sky, without Bradley Wiggins, who pulled out on the eve of the event, along with BMC set to work on the front of the peloton but it was on the longest section of gravel - 11.5km in total - where the race began to fracture.

The leaders had an advantage of a little over two minutes, but the break began to splinter as the road ramped up with sections close to 20 percent and would soon be neutralised.

Evans and Valverde went out on the attack, joined by Stannard, Kreuziger and two riders from QuickStep. While the moved spelled danger for an isolated Cancellara and Sagan, the pair were soon back with the leaders at the conclusion of the sector. However, it was now a vastly reduced bunch with less than 40 riders still in contention.

Only Peter Sagan (Cannondale), Franco Pellizotti (Androni Giocattoli), Damiano Cunego and Diego Ulissi (Lampre-Merida), Michal Golas, Michal Kwiatkowski, Wout Poels, Matteo Trentin and Rigoberto Uran (Omega Pharma-QuickStep), Warren Barguil, Tom Dumoulin, Simon Geschke and Georg Preidler (Giant-Shimano), Angel Vicioso (Katusha), Salvatore Puccio and Ian Stannard (Sky), Daniele Bennati, Christopher Juul Jensen, Roman Kreuziger (Tinkoff-Saxo), Fabian Cancellara (Trek Factory Racing), Angelo Pagani (Bardiani-CSF), Alejandro Valverde and Andrei Amador (Movistar) had made the split but with five riders in the front group, QuickStep quickly took control.

After setting the initial pace the Belgian team sent Trentin clear with Stannard, Amador, Evans, Geschke and Vicioso bidding to chase.

As the move peaked at an 18-second advantage, Kreuziger took off. However, the Czech only succeeded in bringing the race back together and providing Sagan and Kwiatkowski with their launch pad to attack.

Full Results
1 Michal Kwiatkowski (Pol) Omega Pharma - Quick-Step Cycling Team 5:20:33  
2 Peter Sagan (Svk) Cannondale 0:00:19  
3 Alejandro Valverde Belmonte (Spa) Movistar Team 0:00:36  
4 Damiano Cunego (Ita) Lampre-Merida 0:00:40  
5 Roman Kreuziger (Cze) Tinkoff-Saxo    
6 Fabian Cancellara (Swi) Trek Factory Racing 0:00:59  
7 Cadel Evans (Aus) BMC Racing Team 0:01:44  
8 Warren Barguil (Fra) Team Giant-Shimano 0:02:02  
9 Wout Poels (Ned) Omega Pharma - Quick-Step Cycling Team 0:02:11  
10 Simon Geschke (Ger) Team Giant-Shimano 0:02:51  
11 Salvatore Puccio (Ita) Team Sky    
12 Tom Dumoulin (Ned) Team Giant-Shimano    
13 Matteo Trentin (Ita) Omega Pharma - Quick-Step Cycling Team 0:02:54  
14 Michal Golas (Pol) Omega Pharma - Quick-Step Cycling Team    
15 Angel Vicioso Arcos (Spa) Team Katusha 0:03:02  
16 Ian Stannard (GBr) Team Sky 0:03:16  
17 Andrey Amador Bakkazakova (CRc) Movistar Team 0:05:40  
18 Christopher Juul Jensen (Den) Tinkoff-Saxo 0:05:56  
19 Franco Pellizotti (Ita) Androni Giocattoli    
20 Georg Preidler (Aut) Team Giant-Shimano    
21 Diego Ulissi (Ita) Lampre-Merida 0:06:12  
22 Marco Canola (Ita) Bardiani CSF 0:09:15  
23 Michael Schär (Swi) BMC Racing Team    
24 Miguel Angel Rubiano Chavez (Col) Colombia    
25 Martin Elmiger (Swi) IAM Cycling    
26 Alessandro Bazzana (Ita) UnitedHealthcare Professional Cycling Team    
27 Steve Morabito (Swi) BMC Racing Team    
28 Calvin Watson (Aus) Trek Factory Racing    
29 Reto Hollenstein (Swi) IAM Cycling    
30 Matthias Brandle (Aut) IAM Cycling    
31 Manuel Quinziato (Ita) BMC Racing Team    
32 Sergio Pardilla (Spa) MTN - Qhubeka    
33 Gustav Larsson (Swe) IAM Cycling    
34 Andriy Grivko (Ukr) Astana Pro Team    
35 Eduard Vorganov (Rus) Team Katusha    
36 Dmitriy Kozonchuk (Rus) Team Katusha    
37 Oscar Gatto (Ita) Cannondale    
38 Jonathan Castroviejo Nicolas (Spa) Movistar Team    
39 Samuel Sanchez Gonzalez (Spa) BMC Racing Team    
40 Rodolfo Andres Torres Agudelo (Col) Colombia    
41 Dario Cataldo (Ita) Team Sky    
42 Tanel Kangert (Est) Astana Pro Team    
43 Benat Intxausti Elorriaga (Spa) Movistar Team    
44 Moreno Moser (Ita) Cannondale    
45 Marco Frapporti (Ita) Androni Giocattoli    
46 Hayden Roulston (NZl) Trek Factory Racing    
47 Jarlinson Pantano (Col) Colombia    
48 Mauro Finetto (Ita) Yellow Fluo 0:12:05  
49 Thomas Lövkvist (Swe) IAM Cycling 0:12:15  
50 Tobias Ludvigsson (Swe) Team Giant-Shimano    
51 Daniele Bennati (Ita) Tinkoff-Saxo    
52 Matteo Tosatto (Ita) Tinkoff-Saxo    
53 Ben Swift (GBr) Team Sky    
54 Nicolas Roche (Irl) Tinkoff-Saxo    
55 Rigoberto Uran Uran (Col) Omega Pharma - Quick-Step Cycling Team    
56 Maxim Iglinskiy (Kaz) Astana Pro Team 0:12:18  
57 Andrey Zeits (Kaz) Astana Pro Team    
58 Angelo Pagani (Ita) Bardiani CSF 0:14:08  
59 Paolo Colonna (Ita) Bardiani CSF    
60 Martijn Maaskant (Ned) UnitedHealthcare Professional Cycling Team    
61 Alexey Lutsenko (Kaz) Astana Pro Team    
62 Simone Ponzi (Ita) Yellow Fluo 0:16:41  
63 Matteo Rabottini (Ita) Yellow Fluo    
64 Marc de Maar (AHo) UnitedHealthcare Professional Cycling Team    
65 Nicola Testi (Ita) Androni Giocattoli    
66 Diego Rosa (Ita) Androni Giocattoli    
67 Markel Irizar Aranburu (Spa) Trek Factory Racing    
68 Daniel Teklehaimanot (Eri) MTN - Qhubeka    
69 Dominik Nerz (Ger) BMC Racing Team    
70 Marcel Aregger (Swi) IAM Cycling    
71 Lawrence Warbasse (USA) BMC Racing Team    
72 Johannes Fröhlinger (Ger) Team Giant-Shimano    
73 Sebastian Henao Gomez (Col) Team Sky    
74 Alexander Kolobnev (Rus) Team Katusha    
75 Kristian Sbaragli (Ita) MTN - Qhubeka    
76 Edward Fabian Diaz Cardenas (Col) Colombia    
77 Jonathan Paredes (Col) Colombia    
78 Darwin Atapuma Hurtado (Col) BMC Racing Team    
79 Alessandro Petacchi (Ita) Omega Pharma - Quick-Step Cycling Team    
80 Jens Voigt (Ger) Trek Factory Racing    
81 Jacopo Guarnieri (Ita) Astana Pro Team    
82 Tom Stamsnijder (Ned) Team Giant-Shimano    
83 Johnny Hoogerland (Ned) Androni Giocattoli    
84 Bernhard Eisel (Aut) Team Sky    
85 Marco Bandiera (Ita) Androni Giocattoli    
86 Maciej Bodnar (Pol) Cannondale    
87 Enrico Barbin (Ita) Bardiani CSF    
88 Andrea Palini (Ita) Lampre-Merida    
89 Filippo Fortin (Ita) Bardiani CSF    
90 Davide Frattini (Ita) UnitedHealthcare Professional Cycling Team 0:17:37  
91 Nathan Earle (Aus) Team Sky 0:20:07  
92 Manuele Boaro (Ita) Tinkoff-Saxo 0:20:17  
93 Michael Morkov (Den) Tinkoff-Saxo    
94 Andrea Fedi (Ita) Yellow Fluo    
95 Luca Paolini (Ita) Team Katusha    
96 Davide Cimolai (Ita) Lampre-Merida 0:20:33  
97 Alberto Bettiol (Ita) Cannondale 0:20:47  
98 Matthias Krizek (Aut) Cannondale    
99 Ian Boswell (USA) Team Sky 0:22:17  
100 Eugenio Alafaci (Ita) Trek Factory Racing    
101 Fabio Andres Duarte Arevalo (Col) Colombia    
OTL Marco Coledan (Ita) Bardiani CSF    
OTL Donato De Ieso (Ita) Bardiani CSF    
DNS Vladimir Gusev (Rus) Team Katusha    
DNF Kristijan Koren (Slo) Cannondale    
DNF Alan Marangoni (Ita) Cannondale    
DNF Manuel Belletti (Ita) Androni Giocattoli    
DNF Matteo Di Serafino (Ita) Androni Giocattoli    
DNF Fredrik Carl Wilhelm Kessiakoff (Swe) Astana Pro Team    
DNF Dmitriy Muravyev (Kaz) Astana Pro Team    
DNF Nicola Boem (Ita) Bardiani CSF    
DNF Darwin Ferney Pantoja Tobar (Col) Colombia    
DNF Pirmin Lang (Swi) IAM Cycling    
DNF Patrick Schelling (Swi) IAM Cycling    
DNF Niccolo Bonifazio (Ita) Lampre-Merida    
DNF Luca Dodi (Ita) Lampre-Merida    
DNF Manuele Mori (Ita) Lampre-Merida    
DNF Filippo Pozzato (Ita) Lampre-Merida    
DNF Pablo Lastras Garcia (Spa) Movistar Team    
DNF Enrique Sanz (Spa) Movistar Team    
DNF Francisco José Ventoso Alberdi (Spa) Movistar Team    
DNF Jani Tewelde (Eri) MTN - Qhubeka    
DNF Adrien Niyonshuti (Rwa) MTN - Qhubeka    
DNF Meron Russom (Eri) MTN - Qhubeka    
DNF Songezo Jim (RSA) MTN - Qhubeka    
DNF Dennis van Niekerk (RSA) MTN - Qhubeka    
DNF Mark Cavendish (GBr) Omega Pharma - Quick-Step Cycling Team    
DNF Mark Renshaw (Aus) Omega Pharma - Quick-Step Cycling Team    
DNF Thomas Peterson (USA) Team Giant-Shimano    
DNF Maxim Belkov (Rus) Team Katusha    
DNF Rudiger Selig (Ger) Team Katusha    
DNF Sergio Miguel Moreira Paulinho (Por) Tinkoff-Saxo    
DNF Yaroslav Popovych (Ukr) Trek Factory Racing    
DNF Riccardo Zoidl (Aut) Trek Factory Racing    
DNF Benjamin Day (Aus) UnitedHealthcare Professional Cycling Team    
DNF Lucas Euser (USA) UnitedHealthcare Professional Cycling Team    
DNF Christopher Jones (USA) UnitedHealthcare Professional Cycling Team    
DNF Kiel Reijnen (USA) UnitedHealthcare Professional Cycling Team    
DNF Samuele Conti (Ita) Yellow Fluo    
DNF Francesco Failli (Ita) Yellow Fluo    
DNF Fabio Taborre (Ita) Yellow Fluo    
DNF Mirko Tedeschi (Ita) Yellow Fluo